We are pleased to present to you the 2011 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects and simultaneously to highlight the immense value mine action brings to peacekeeping, humanitarian relief and development efforts.
As a cross cutting activity, mine action delivers concrete and measurable results. It saves lives, protects livelihoods and provides assistance to mine victims, including through job skills training, socio-economic initiatives, and employment opportunities.
Mine action workers assist victims and their families, reduce the risk to affected communities, and remove dangers from farmer’s fields, from roads, from villages; all of which allow children to safely travel to school, communities to have access to water and to collect firewood, and commercial trade to return to assist with the socio-economic recovery of affected areas.
With increased awareness of the links between mine action and the achievement of the Millennium Development
Goals, mine-affected countries are pursuing mine action as a development priority as well as a humanitarian, security and human rights priority, and are giving it due prominence in their national development plans, strategies and budgets.
Since the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty was adopted in September 1997, mine action has helped an ever-increasing number of civilians reclaim their lives and restore their livelihoods. The treaty has mobilized the international community’s response to this scourge and it is a testament to what can be achieved when we collectively take on a grave humanitarian and development challenge.
The 2011 Portfolio outlines the requirements to support national programmes and efforts in participating countries to clear areas known or believed to be contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war, assist victims, destroy stockpiled mines, and educate girls, boys, women and men about the dangers of these devices. These submissions also reflect the diverse partnerships and coordinated efforts involved in pursuing these mine action initiatives presented in this 14th edition of the Portfolio of Mine Action Projects to a successful conclusion.
While the international community celebrated the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 August 2010, which further underpins the extensive normative framework and the global call to action involving the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons’ Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War and the 2007 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — a key instrument for mine survivors — advocacy also features as an important mine action effort, particularly in relation to universalization of these conventions as well as fulfillment of relevant obligations and compliance, alongside clearance work, victim assistance, and risk reduction.
These goals are reinforced through many of the projects in this edition of the Portfolio.
Some of the countries making submissions to the Portfolio have well-advanced mine action programmes, while others have begun tackling landmines and explosive remnants of war only recently. Regardless of the stage of development, each of them requires sustained, predictable support from Governments and donors alike, in order for all of us to move forward and succeed.
We wish all involved in this noble endeavor to sustain their commitment to end the suffering caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war.
Occupied Palestinian Territory
In the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the population live and work in communities threatened by minefields and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The precise scope, scale and impact of the contamination is not known. Since the beginning of the Intifada, the mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem has increased, encompassing minefields, military training zones and areas of confrontation, where many explosive devices are left behind. Further hazards exist in Gaza as a result of Operation Cast Lead (27 Dec.08 to 18 Jan.09). The UN stated that while anti-vehicle mines were used to demolish buildings, there is no evidence that antipersonnel mines were laid by either side. To enhance coordination and response, the Palestinian Mine Action Committee (PNMAC) was established in 2002 but has not been active since 2008. There has been little clearance of mines and ERW in recent years in the West Bank.
Since January 2009, the UN Mine Action Team in Gaza (UNMAT-GO) has been addressing contamination in Gaza resulting from Operation Cast Lead. The majority of the residual UXO and ERW hazard is, as of the end 2010, confined to restricted areas.
There is no comprehensive data collection mechanism in oPt, but data is collected by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), the Palestinian Police, and some international and local organizations. The total number of Palestinian mine/ERW casualties is not known, though at least 3,340 casualties have been reported. Defense for Children International Palestine recorded more than 2,500 mine/ERW casualties occurring between 1967 and 1998. Since the end of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, 11 civilians have been killed and 44 injured due to UXO-related accidents.
From 1999 to 2008, mine/ERW risk education activities have been provided in the West Bank and Gaza mainly through school-based activities and public information dissemination. After Operation Cast Lead, specific emergency RE activities were carried out. Particularly, UNICEF and the Mines Advisory Group conducted an ERW RE project in schools in Gaza.
The portfolio team’s funding appeal for mine action projects in Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2011 totals US $493,820.
Scope of the Problem
OPt is contaminated with mines and ERW, although the precise extent of contamination is not known. There are believed to be at least 15 confirmed minefields, all located in the West Bank on the border with Jordan. Palestinian National Security Forces are said to lack maps or records of minefields. The UN has called for a mine action survey to be conducted in the West Bank in order to begin to assess the scope, scale, and impact on communities and development.
Since the beginning of the Intifada, the scope of the mine and UXO problem has increased, moving beyond minefields and military training zones to reach areas of confrontation, where belligerents leave many explosive devices behind. In Gaza following Operation Cast Lead, the main threats are from ERW left behind by Israeli aerial and artillery weapon systems, or from militant caches targeted by the Israeli forces.
The UNMAT deployed into Gaza immediately after Cast Lead and initiated assessments to identify the locations of ordnance within destroyed houses and public buildings. Throughout 2009 and 2010, the UNMAT GO enabled a safer environment for the civilian population and the wider humanitarian community in Gaza through the destruction of all known white phosphorus UXO in Gaza [i.e. 92 items]; the localization and neutralization of 360 items of UXO; the UXO contamination threat assessments for 2,186 damaged/destroyed/suspected sites and properties; the provision of 247 UXO safety briefing sessions for 5,383 at-risk civilians, contractors and UN/NGO staff members. Due to this progress the majority of the residual UXO and ERW hazard is as of end 2010 confined to restricted areas such as the buffer zone along the border line with Israel. This has informed the decision to progressively downscale the programme as of August 2010. As for 2011, UNMAS will maintain a residual capacity composed of a Mine Action Technical Advisor with minimal local support staff in Gaza within the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) office to ensure that the Mine Action needs are met to support UN Agencies, NGOs and the civilian population at risk.
Coordination and Consultation
To enhance coordination, monitoring, prioritization, and response, the PNMAC was established in 2002 and has been chaired by the Ministry of the Interior since 2006. Its works have been discontinued since August 2008. The PNMAC does not have a formal mandate, and its coordination role remains limited. Because of restricted access and mobility between the West Bank and Gaza, a committee was formed in both locations. Once the political situation permits, the two committees will merge into one official coordination body, which will be known as the PNMAC. The PNMAC consists of representatives from seven ministries: culture and environment, education and higher education, health, interior (including its five divisions of civil defence, national security, the police, political guidance and preventive security), planning, social affairs, and youth and sport. Participating international organizations include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), and the European Union Coordination Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUCOPPS). Other organizations such as DCI and the PRCS are also represented.
In Gaza, UNICEF has started a mine risk education working group. A number of agencies have agreed to use a common data-gathering tool. Data is being collated centrally and triangulated with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). This tool is also being used by agencies working with persons with disabilities.
The UNMAT-GO has been coordinating humanitarian mine action in Gaza throughout 2009 and 2010.
Given limited resources available for demining activities, UNICEF had until 2008 assisted the PNMAC in developing its national mine action strategy — including an intermediate plan of action and recommendations for the longer term. The first priority of the strategy was to build local capacities to address mine and UXO issues through the involvement of all members of the PNMAC. The PNMAC has also worked on establishing an active network at the local level. Recurrent funding deficits hinder efforts to build a comprehensive national strategy for mine action and to move away from a piecemeal approach.
The key challenges faced by the sector include:
The presence of many minefields dating back to previous wars and ERW contamination, as well as unfenced
Israeli military training camps located near populated areas within the West bank;
 Lack of mine clearance capacities within the Palestinian Authority both within Gaza and the West Bank;
 Restrictions placed upon Palestinian EOD teams by Israeli authorities due to restricted Israeli controlled military areas within the West Bank;
 The lack of accurate mine and UXO victim information to establish a reliable database;
 Poor or little coordination/cooperation between Israel/Palestinian Authorities and Palestinian Authorities in Ramallah and Gaza; and
 Lack of Donor awareness of Mine / ERW problem in West Bank, therefore lack of funding.
UNMAS is currently engaged with the Palestinian Authority to initiate and facilitate mine action activities in the West Bank, including capacity building and demining in the coming years.
To contribute to a safer living and operating environment for the people of Gaza, and humanitarian and development agencies, through a continued residual Mine Action response capacity which will assist in the prevention/reduction of the risk of death and injury as a result of UXO/ERW contamination.
- Provision of MA technical advice to UN, international and national NGOs on UXO/ERW threats which may exist when planning/implementing projects.
- Limited UXO risk assessments to ensure that partners’ planned activities can proceed with a high degree of safety for personnel involved on the ground.
- Provision of UXO safety awareness briefings as required to new UN, NGO staff & at-risk civilian population depending on the target group.
- UXO marking & recording.
- Limited removal & neutralization of UXO if required & permitted.
- Provision of IED advice, awareness training and possible on site investigation capacity for the safety and protection of UN personnel and property, when no other measures are available.
- Enhanced safety and security of the civilian pop. and livelihoods.
- Increased knowledge of UXO/ERW and how to recognize/deal with them safely amongst the civilian pop. And humanitarian/development stakeholders.
- Reduced number of deaths/injuries caused by UXO/ERW.
- Safe and timely humanitarian/development operations in Gaza without dangerous/costly delays due to a known/perceived UXO/ERW threat.
- Maintained ability for UNMAS to swiftly deploy a larger capacity if needed.
Contact: Ms Celine Francois; Programme Officer; United Nations Mine Action Team - Gaza Office; Tel: 972 549 760 517; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MINE ACTION COUNTRY PORTFOLIO TEAM
Celine Francois (CPC) United Nations Mine Action Team - Gaza Office