Communities in both the West Bank and Gaza are impacted by ERW whilst the population in the WB must also contend with living in a land contaminated by 91 minefields covering an estimated 21 sqKm.
WB: During 2012 a Palestinian Mine Action Centre (PMAC) to coordinate MA in the WB was established in Ramallah by the Palestinian Authority with UNMAS as Technical Advisor – UNMAS has deployed a full time TA to the PMAC. PMAC with UNMAS support has developed NTSGs and has been trained by UNMAS in humanitarian MA governance, data management, survey, clearance operations and quality control, with the support of the Jordanian NCDR, the US PRWA, the GICHD and the governments of New Zealand, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. Following MF survey, PMAC has developed an initial clearance plan for five governorates in the WB. Demining operations require the agreement of Israeli authorities as the occupying power- PMAC and stakeholders are seeking that agreement. UNMAS seeks support for (i) clearance operations and the required simultaneous quality assurance; (ii) continued development of coordination systems in PMAC and the UNMAS supporting office. UNICEF seeks support to assist PMAC develop an MRE programme aimed at raising awareness of the population on the threats posed by mines/ERW.
GAZA: The UNMAS team in Gaza works to protect men, women, boys and girls at risk living within lands that are subject to acts of conflict and to ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to the population. UNMAS data suggests that increase in the frequency and intensity of conflict between the parties is followed by a propensity towards a spike of civilians being injured by ERW. In 2012, the number of casualties has risen to an average of almost 4 victims a month, a majority of them children. UNMAS provides technical advice into the roll-out of an MRE initiative in the educational system with UNICEF and UNRWA; and monitoring and evaluation for this service. UNMAS also conducts risk assessments to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian projects, as well as awareness training for UN agencies, INGOS, NGOS and communities. UNMAS seeks continuation of funds for these activities.
Each year, UN entities, nongovernmental organizations, national and local authorities and donors collaborate to assemble a national portfolio of mine action project proposals that together reflect the strategic response developed in the field to all aspects of the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war. A Country Portfolio Coordinator, usually a representative of a UN agency or a national authority, coordinates meetings where all mine action actors agree on a set of projects and priorities and determine funding needs. The proposals in each country's portfolio are assembled with those of other participating countries and published jointly by the UN Mine Action Service, the UN Development Programme and UNICEF in an annual "Portfolio of Mine Action Projects." This publication serves as a tool for collaborative resource mobilization, coordination and planning of mine action activities.
Scope of the Problem
The WEST BANK has been contaminated by landmines (AP and AT) for over sixty years, with an estimated 20,4 km² of contaminated land in 91 minefields and suspected areas. In addition, other ERW can be found throughout the West Bank due to military operations and continuing training by the IDF. While most minefields are located along the border with Jordan, it is estimated that 13 minefields are situated elsewhere in the West Bank. Contamination figures will be confirmed upon the completion of the survey of minefields and suspected areas currently under way by the PMAC, UNMAS and Halo Trust. Most minefields and hazardous areas are located in fertile agricultural and grazing land and, in some cases, inside or in the vicinity of villages. The marking and fencing of minefields is often in poor state of repair, with some minefields not marked at all. In addition to posing a constant risk to the lives and limbs of the population - particularly children, farmers, shepherds, Bedouins – the contamination undermines socio-economic development and livelihoods of Palestinian communities.
'GAZA: Operation Cast Lead' left the inhabitants of Gaza living and working in communities contaminated by ERW. To this day and despite successful interventions by the UNMAT since 2009, the main threat in Gaza stems from the ongoing conflict between different armed groups and the IDF. UNDSS data indicate an average of 53 munitions fired by the IDF into Gaza on a monthly basis; also, 50% of the rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel fall short and land in Gaza. A number of these munitions fail to explode on impact, posing a serious threat to the safety and security of the people living and working in Gaza. In the last 2 years the number of civilian casualties caused by ERW has steadily increased, reaching an average of 4 civilian victims/month in 2012, a majority of them children. UNMAS data suggests that periods of conflict escalation are followed by a spike of civilians being injured by UXO.
Coordination and Consultation
In the WEST BANK, coordination of mine action activities and national capacity development are undertaken by the PA through the Higher Committee for MA and the PMAC, with UNMAS as their technical advisor (UNMAS deployed a full-time Technical Advisor within the PMAC in March 2012 for an initial period of two years). The PMAC’s capacity building programme and mine action activities are implemented/facilitated by a number of national and international partners - UNMAS, UNICEF, HALO Trust, Geneva Center for Demining and Rehabilitation (GICHD), Jordanian NCDR, the US State Department Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PMWRA), and the governments of New Zealand, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. Due to the specificities of the context, partners are also involved in the liaison and coordination mechanisms with all relevant Israeli authorities, although within established security liaison frameworks that already exists between the Palestinian and Israeli security forces. All current partners in the oPt have been consulted by the PMAC and UNMAS prior to submission of the 2013 portfolio to ensure that submitted projects are in line with the PA mine action strategy.
In GAZA, UNMAS coordinates, manages and implements mine action activities following requests by UN agencies, national and international NGOs and community based organizations.
UNMAS and UNICEF’s programmes in the oPt fall under the authority of the UNHC/RC in the oPt. As a member of the UN country Team, UNMAS and UNICEF take active part in all inter-agency coordination mechanisms in place in the oPt, including those with the PA's line ministries. From the inception of the Mine Action programme in Gaza in 2009, UNMAS has led the Mine Action sub-Cluster (within the Protection Cluster) for the oPt; while UNICEF is cluster lead for Education and Wash, coordinator of the Child Protection sub-cluster and co-chair of MHPSS sub-cluster in the oPt.
UNMAS' Gaza project will be included in the CAP 2013, while its West Bank project is in line with the Palestinian National Development plan 2011-2013 and included in the corresponding UN Medium-Term Response Plan 2011-2013
In the WEST BANK:
The Higher Committee for Mine Action (high level inter-ministerial committee established in early 2012) sets the overall strategies and policies to enact the Palestinian mine action programme in the West Bank in close consultation with UNMAS as its Technical Advisor and with inputs from mine action partners. The PA’s strategic objective is to remove the hazards posed by landmines and ERW from the oPt.
The PMAC (operational since April 2012) is coordinating the strategic plan with its partners in the field. In 2013-2014, strategy will focus on the following:
(i) Clearance and QA of 13 minefields in six governorates of the West Bank (Jenin, Tulkarm, Qalqiliya, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron);
(ii) Coordination of mine action activities in the West Bank by the PMAC in line with international standards and Palestinian national technical standards and guidelines;
(iii) Development/adaptation of legislation with regards to mine action;
(iv) Roll out of a public awareness campaign and MRE programme (and potentially VA advocacy) on the threat posed by mines and ERW in the West Bank;
(v) External awareness raising through attendance by the PMAC/PA to international MA conventions as an observer and submission of voluntary reports to the Mine Ban Convention.
The PA has asked UNMAS to continue providing Technical Advice and programme support.
In addition to enhancing the livelihoods and the safety and security of the civilian population, and reducing the risk of death and injury from UXO, UNMAS’ presence in Gaza insures that humanitarian and development operations in Gaza are conducted in a safe and timely manner without dangerous or costly delays due to a known or perceived UXO threat. As the coordinator of mine action operations in Gaza, UNMAS defines its strategy in close consultation with the Humanitarian Country Team, the Protection Cluster, the donors, the beneficiaries and the relevant authorities in Gaza and in Israel.
In 2013, UNMAS will provide technical advice into the roll-out of an MRE initiative in the educational system with UNICEF and UNRWA; and will provide a monitoring and evaluation service for this service. UNMAS will also continue conducting risk assessments to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian projects, as well as awareness training for UN agencies, INGOS, NGOS and communities.