Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian Arab Republic
In Syria, seven years of conflict characterized by the pervasive use of explosive weaponry in populated areas has compounded the complex humanitarian crisis. The resulting explosive hazard contamination poses a serious threat to Syrians and humanitarian response activities. According to the UN 2018 Humanitarian Needs Overview, 8.2 million men, women, and children are now living in communities reporting explosive hazards and are exposed to the threat of debilitating injuries and death on a daily basis. The destruction or contamination of key infrastructure, such as hospitals, has deprived civilians of basic services, and the presence of explosive hazards is a lethal barrier to movement, the delivery of humanitarian aid, and to those seeking refuge from violence.   Explosive incidents with wide-area effects continue to occur in populated urban and rural areas, increasing casualties and compounding the vulnerability of local communities and transient populations, such as IDPs. Anecdotal evidence from Focus Group Discussions indicates that there are significant numbers of unreported accidents among the general population, particularly among agriculturalists, children, and those trying to remove explosive hazards on an ad hoc basis. Syria has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions nor the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
Scope of the Problem
The most recent UN assessment on protection highlighted explosive hazards as a major protection concern for the population; 8.2 million people now live in 162 sub-districts most affected by explosive incidents, with more than 3 million children directly exposed to the risk of explosive hazards. 43% of communities in sub-districts affected by conflict reported the presence of explosive hazard contamination. Contamination from the ongoing conflict includes explosive remnants of war (ERW), improvised explosive devices (IEDs), unexploded ordnance (UXO), cluster-munitions, and landmines.     Lost access to large quantities of productive land or livelihood activities from explosive hazards deteriorates the socio-economic situation and further destabilizes communities, undermining opportunities for potential recovery. Landmines. IEDs, and other explosive hazards have been found along roads, waterways, or concealed in fields and pastoral land, affecting agriculture-based livelihoods and restricting movement. In 33% of assessed communities, agricultural land was reported to be potentially contaminated - rendering it unusable or unsafe for productive use - in over 90% of contaminated sub-districts. Key infrastructure such as housing, schools, health centres, and water and sanitation systems have been repeatedly targeted by explosive weaponry; reconstruction efforts will therefore require a mine action component. More than 50% of medical facilities were determined to be partially functioning or non-functioning, citing damage from the conflict as one of the major causes; 46% of hospitals were reported to be fully damaged or partially damaged. Moreover, the absence of safe and suitable learning spaces remains a barrier to education; the education sector reports that one in three education facilities have been damaged or destroyed by the conflict or no longer accessible because of conflict-related hazards. There is no national humanitarian clearance capacity inside Syria, but ad hoc clearance activities nevertheless continue to happen as the desperate population try to reduce the impact of explosive hazards.
Coordination and Consultation
In 2015, at the request of the UN Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, UNMAS established an office in Gaziantep, Turkey and activated the Mine Action Sub-Cluster (MASC) with the overall objective of mitigating the impact of explosive hazards in Syria. To this end, UNMAS Syria Response leads mine action efforts as the WoS coordinator; overseeing the prioritization and planning of the sector, integrating it within the wider Whole of Syria humanitarian framework, and directly implementing activities to mitigate the threat of explosive hazards. UNMAS Syria Response operates as the MA Coordinator for the Gaziantep and Amman hubs for northern and southern Syria; iMMAP, selected as coordinator for north-eastern Syria in 2017, operates from the Iraq hub. The MASC falls under the Protection Cluster and bases its strategy on the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is the overall strategy of the humanitarian community to respond to the current humanitarian situation. UNMAS Syria Response advocates on behalf of the sector, coordinates effectively, and acts as the single mine action focal point on technical issues with the different authorities. As the WoS focal point for the mine action sector, UNMAS Syria Response integrates it within the broader humanitarian response in Syria and coordinates with humanitarian and stabilization actors to ensure an effective and cohesive response to the crisis. As part of its core coordination function, UNMAS Syria Response collates and analyses data on explosive hazards to define the scope and impact, and, working with the wider humanitarian response, facilitate efficient and well-prioritised operations. The context of Syria is very unique due to the insecurity, access restrictions for international organisations, and the difficulties in the procurement of equipment. The MASC thus serves as an important forum to identify innovative yet secure approaches to respond to the threat posed by explosive hazards.       
The overall objective of the Mine Action Sector is to reduce the impact of explosive hazards within Syria through risk education, survey, explosive hazard clearance, and victim assistance activities.  The humanitarian mine action response in Syria is tailored in accordance with needs and accessibility and follows the objectives outlined in the draft 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP). In 2018, the Mine Action sector will focus on: Providing risk education for at-risk groups including internally displaced persons, farmers, reconstruction workers and children. Removing explosive hazards in high-priority areas. Conducting contamination surveys so that the required response can be directed to areas most in need for clearance. Conducting casualty data collection and providing victim assistance services to persons with disabilities, including survivors of explosive hazards, and their families. Promoting participation by communities and other sectors in priority-setting across all activities. UNMAS Syria Response believes that while a comprehensive EOD clearance projects to remove all the threats, is not currently possible, it is possible to train national capacity to survey and clear surface level explosive hazards, particularly in agricultural areas. Where possible, UNMAS Syria Response will seek to facilitate the deployment of conventional clearance teams in areas most in need and to enable the activities of health, education and other actors. Clearance will focus on the use of non-explosive methodology for the disposal of surface-level ordnance by local teams. In locations accessible to technical personnel, mine action organisations will carry out survey, clearance, and spot tasks where the humanitarian community deems the need to be greatest.   Humanitarian mine action partners operating from Damascus, such as UNICEF, implement risk education activities in collaboration with the Syrian Ministry of Education, training teachers in many parts of the country to provide risk awareness in their communities. In addition to improving the security of the population of Syria in general, building a national capacity to conduct both risk education and clearance will help empower communities by providing a source of income and allowing them to address the hazards around them. The humanitarian mine action response in Syria is tailored in accordance with needs and accessibility.