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Syria

Ruins in Quneitra, Syria. © UN Photo/Milton Grant

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ABOUT

In its seventh year, the war in Syria has littered the country with explosive hazards. The presence of landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and explosive remnants of war (ERW) endanger the lives and livelihoods of civilians, impede humanitarian aid, restrict freedom of movement, and hinder socio-economic recovery. The 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview for Syria identified explosive hazards as a major protection concern. An estimated 6.3 million people – including 2 million children - currently live in contaminated areas. Men, women, and children, particularly young boys, are at risk of severe physical and psychological impairment and death on a regular basis.

Recognising the need for mine action as a priority for the Syrian humanitarian response, the United Nations Regional Humanitarian Coordinator requested UNMAS assistance in August 2015. The same month, UNMAS established the UNMAS Syria Response programme in Gaziantep, Turkey, and activated the MASC. The overall objective of UNMAS Syria Response is to reduce the impact of explosive hazards. To achieve this, UNMAS Syria Response focuses on providing overall coordination for the mine action sector, technical support and oversight, sponsoring CIS and RE activities through implementing partners, and the integration of RE material across the sectors of the wider humanitarian response. UNMAS Syria Response supports other humanitarian organisations through the delivery of RE, first aid and emergency trauma bag training, information sharing and the development of tailored RE material. In line with the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria, the Mine Action response will aim to support victim assistance, in addition to continuing RE and CIS.  

The removal of explosive hazards is a major priority for the humanitarian response however, access restrictions severely limit humanitarian explosive hazard clearance operations. UNMAS and the wider humanitarian community continue to advocate for increased access while UNMAS and its partners prepare the groundwork for future humanitarian mine action activities in Syria through coordination, IM, CIS, RE, and victim assistance

ACTIVITIES

FUNDING 

UNMAS Syria Response is supported by Japan, Denmark and Italy, and the OCHA Humanitarian Pooled Fund for Syria. Mine action is a critical component of the Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017 and by the second quarter, the sector raised 34 percent of its overall funding appeal. USD 26.7 million of the USD 40.1 million petitioned are still required for an effective humanitarian mine action response. UNMAS Syria Response received USD 4.4 million out of an appeal for USD 10.5 million for coordination, risk education, impact survey, and victim assistance activities in Syria.

Updated: July 2017

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IMPACT

  • UNMAS Syria Response established the Mine Action Sub Cluster (MASC) under the framework of Whole of Syria (WoS) in late 2015 and as a result, mine action is fully integrated into the humanitarian response, is recognised by relevant stakeholders working for Syria, and has become an essential part of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Syria. Establishing the importance of Mine Action as part of the humanitarian emergency response in Syria through UNMAS coordination is essential to ensure that the threat of explosive hazards is mitigated now, as well as to prepare the sector to positively contribute to peace sustainment efforts in the aftermath of conflict.
  • Information Management (IM) is central to UNMAS Syria Response’s core coordination function. Data relevant to explosive hazards feeds into the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database, enabling needs-impact based prioritization; tailoring the response to the need and avoiding the duplication of efforts. With restricted access in Syria, IM becomes vitally important to increasing the effectiveness of the sector response and laying the foundations for future activities.
  • Through UNMAS Syria Response coordination, Risk Education (RE) is now the most widespread protection activity in Syria in terms of communities reached. Since January 2017, UNMAS Syria Response and its partners have reached 1,601,284 beneficiaries with RE and trained 7,125 risk educators in Syria. RE raises awareness on the threat of explosive hazards and teaches basic behaviours to civilians to prevent potential incidents. UNMAS Syria Response seeks to integrate RE in other sectors by collaborating with multi-sectoral humanitarian organisations and implementing partners in the Health, Food Security and Livelihoods, Shelter and Non-Food Items, and Protection clusters throughout Syria
  • UNMAS Syria Response continues to implement Contamination Impact Surveys (CIS) to better understand the impact of explosive hazards for future mine action activities, prioritize interventions on a needs basis, and help ensure the safety of humanitarian actors by identifying potentially hazardous and safe areas.