Mine Ban Policy
Four of the eighteen countries of the Middle East/North Africa region are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty: Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen. Algeria, a treaty signatory, announced in May 2001 that it had completed the ratification process, but it has yet to deposit its official instruments with the United Nations in New York.
Thirteen states in the region have not acceded to the treaty: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and United Arab Emirates.
Israel and Jordan provided their consent to be bound by Amended Protocol II of CCW in 2000. They are the only countries in the region to do so.
Tunisia provided its initial Article 7 transparency measures report in July 2000. Jordan and Yemen submitted their annual updates as required. Qatar is late in submitting its initial report, which was due by 27 September 1999.
Delegations from Algeria, Jordan, Qatar, and Tunisia attended the Second Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2000. Yemen did not attend. Seven non-States Parties attended as observers: Iraq, Israel, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
While no country in the region has enacted domestic implementation legislation, Tunisia has said that preparations are underway and Yemen is considering additional steps beyond its ratification legislation.
All States Parties and the one signatory in the region voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 55/33V in November 2000, calling for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. In addition, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates voted in favor of this resolution, as they did in 1999, despite having not joined the treaty. Among the 22 governments abstaining on the vote were Egypt, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Syria.
Countries from the region that attended at least one meeting of the Intersessional Standing Committees were Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Yemen.
Israel acknowledged use of antipersonnel mines in South Lebanon prior to its withdrawal from the area in May 2000, and provided minefield maps to the United Nations. It appears that Israel has continued to use antipersonnel mines in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, allegedly without proper fencing and marking as required by CCW Amended Protocol II, which entered into force for Israel on 30 April 2001. When asked about the allegation, Israel replied that it “fulfills its obligations to the fullest extent, and strongly rejects allegations to the contrary.” There have been allegations of mine use by Palestinians as well.
Production and Transfer
Landmine Monitor Report 2000 identified three current antipersonnel mine producers (Egypt, Iran, and Iraq) and one past producer (Israel) in the region. Egyptian officials have stated several times since 1997 that Egypt no longer produces antipersonnel mines. However, this position has not been issued in writing as a formal policy statement, despite numerous requests from Landmine Monitor and the ICBL. Thus, Landmine Monitor continues to count Egypt as a mine producer.
Israel has a formal moratorium on antipersonnel mine exports in place through 2003. Egyptian and Iranian officials have publicly stated that their countries no longer export antipersonnel mines, but Egypt has not given official written confirmation of this. Iran has been accused of exporting mines to several nations in recent years, but no concrete evidence has been found. Iraq is the only nation in the world known to have exported antipersonnel mines in the past that has not at least announced a halt to exports. In September 2000, an Iraqi diplomat said to Landmine Monitor, “How can we export landmines? We only export oil for food.”
Stockpiling and Destruction
Some previously unknown details of stockpiles in the region have emerged in this reporting period. Tunisia declared a stockpile of 17,575 antipersonnel mines in its initial Mine Ban Treaty transparency measures report. Qatar has confirmed to Landmine Monitor that it has a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but has not provided details. Oman also revealed for the first time that it has a “limited” stockpile of antipersonnel mines for training purposes. No other state in the region has divulged details about the total number of antipersonnel mines in its stockpile. It is likely that Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, and Syria have the biggest stocks of antipersonnel mines in the region.
States Parties have begun to destroy their stockpiles of antipersonnel mines. Jordan destroyed an additional 16,000 antipersonnel mines since May 2000. Yemen destroyed an additional 4,286 antipersonnel mines in February 2001 and has indicated that if funding is forthcoming, it can destroy its entire stockpile within a year. The deadlines for States Parties to destroy their stockpiles are: Yemen (1 March 2003); Qatar (1 April 2003); Jordan (1 May 2003); Tunisia (1 January 2004).
Three States Parties will retain antipersonnel mines for training and research purposes: Tunisia (5,000); Yemen (4,000); Jordan (1,000). Qatar’s plans are not known. Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia combined host a total of nearly 80,000 antipersonnel mines for the United States as part of pre-positioned ammunition stocks. Qatar would neither confirm nor deny Landmine Monitor’s report of the presence of US antipersonnel mines.
Mines and UXO from the World War II period and from more recent conflicts are encountered in 14 of the 18 countries of the region, all except Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Mines and UXO also affect the Golan Heights, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and the Western Sahara. Estimates of the total number of mines emplaced in the region vary greatly.
In Yemen, the Landmine Impact Survey was completed in July 2000 and the Yemeni government approved a five-year Strategic Mine Action Plan based on the survey data in February 2001. The Survey identified 592 affected villages and 1,078 mine sites covering 923 million square meters of land, affecting 828,000 Yemeni civilians.
In Lebanon, the National Demining Office has identified 1,388 mined areas, including 553 in South Lebanon. A nationwide Landmine Impact Survey was due to start in 2001.
Tunisia declared in its initial Article 7 report that there are five mined areas in the country, containing 3,526 antipersonnel mines and 1,530 antivehicle mines laid in 1976 and 1980.
In August 2000, the UK-based Mines Advisory Group completed an assessment of mined areas around the village of Husan in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Mine Action Funding
This year marked the first in which significant inter-regional mine action funding was announced. In March 2001 the United Arab Emirates announced its intention to donate $50 million to help redevelop South Lebanon, which includes funding for mine clearance. In May 2001, Saudi Arabia announced it would provide $3 million over the next three years for mine action in Yemen.
Funding for mine action in northern Iraq totaled some $23 million in 2000, including $20 million for the Mine Action Program under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, funded entirely through the UN Oil for Food Program.
Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Yemen, and most recently Oman receive mine action funding, training, and equipment from the United States. Other donor governments including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom provide mine action assistance and funding in the region.
Egypt’s National Committee to Supervise Mine Clearance met for the first time in June 2000 and subsequently established a trust fund for mine clearance in the western desert.
No country in the region contributed to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action in either 1999 or 2000.
The major humanitarian mine clearance program in the region is in northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan). From 1997 to mid-2001 over 7 million square meters of land were cleared, with over 70 percent of that land cleared during 2000 and 2001. In addition, in 2000, the Mines Advisory Group cleared fourteen minefields, and declared safe 702,111 square meters of land. Norwegian People’s Aid cleared seven minefields and a total of 449,778 square meters of land.
In 2000, 447 antivehicle mines and 4,897 UXO were cleared from an area of land covering 666,445 square meters in Yemen. According to information provided in Jordan’s most recent Article 7 report, 37,997 antipersonnel mines (and 82,929 mines of all types) have been cleared and that the total land area cleared is 50 million square meters. A National Demining and Rehabilitation Committee has been formed in Jordan.
From October 1999 to April 2001, the Lebanese Army cleared 23,293 antipersonnel mines, 4,905 antitank mines and numerous other UXO. The Lebanese Army cleared 672,415 square meters of land in 2000 and 154,772 square meters up to April 2001. According to Iranian officials, in the year 2000, more than 880,000 mines and UXO, and 300 million square meters of land, were cleared. Since 1988, over 7,500 million square meters of mined land and 9 million mines and UXO have been cleared in Iran. In Kuwait, it is estimated that some 250 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines were cleared in the year 2000.
Other affected states where mine clearance occurs, sometimes systematically and sometimes sporadically, are Egypt, Israel, Libya, Morocco, and Oman. Mine clearance is carried out by the armed forces in most countries in the region.
Programs have been implemented in Iran (in Kurdistan province), Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria (including the Golan Heights), and Yemen. In Lebanon, following Israel’s withdrawal from the south, a number of actors including Hezbollah, the ICRC, the Landmines Resource Center, the Lebanese Red Cross, Rädda Barnen, UNESCO and UNICEF have conducted mine awareness activities, including emergency interventions. At least 57 mine awareness education events were conducted in Lebanon between May and December 2000.
In Libya, it is reported that the authorities have provided mine awareness training that may include training in mine clearance. In Egypt, mine awareness activities by the Landmine Struggle Center, the sole NGO conducting mine awareness education in affected areas, have been curtailed due to lack of funds. The ICRC has started collecting data on mine and UXO casualties in southern Iraq as a preliminary step toward defining an appropriate mine awareness strategy. In 2000, the ICRC held discussions with the local authorities and the Iraqi Red Crescent on the object of the data collection, on future plans for mine awareness activities and in an effort to reach an agreement with the government and the next step was to be an in-depth needs assessment, scheduled for July 2001. In the Western Sahara, a mine awareness education program conducted by NPA ended in May 2000. According to the UN Peace Plan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be responsible for providing mine awareness prior to the planned repatriation of Sahrawi refugees.
In cooperation with Syrian authorities, UN peacekeeping forces in the Golan Heights have initiated a program to identify and mark all mined areas in their area of operations. A mine awareness component is included in the Syrian Ministry of Health’s “Safe Gardens Project,” initiated in August 2000. The Defense for Children International/Palestine Section’s mine awareness campaign continued, as more than 70 mine awareness sessions took place in 2000. DCI/PS, in cooperation with the Palestinian National Security Forces, also erected a fence and put warning signs around the Qabatia minefield.
On 19-22 February 2001, Rädda Barnen (Save the Children Sweden) organized in Aden, Yemen, an International Workshop on the Design of Materials, Resources, and Other Media in Mine Awareness Programs
In 2000, there were new victims of mines in Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, and Yemen. There were also mine incidents in areas such as the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Golan Heights, Western Sahara, and northern Iraq.
According to the UN, known UXO and mine explosions caused an average of 56 casualties per month in 2000 and 31 per month in 2001 in northern Iraq. In Yemen, there were at least twelve mine casualties in 2000, and three mine incidents by mid-2001. Since the Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000, 132 mine casualties have been recorded. There were 12 new mine/UXO victims reported in Egypt in 2000. The Medical Engineering Research Center estimates that there are about 300 mine and UXO casualties in Iran every year. In Kuwait, there were at least 44 recorded and reported mine casualties between March 2000 and February 2001. A new mine victim database has been established which shows there have been more than 1,500 civilian mine/UXO victims in Kuwait since August 1990.
The availability of services to mine victims and survivors varies greatly across the region. In Algeria, the Ministry of National Solidarity and Handicap International signed a partnership agreement to establish a program to assist the disabled. In Egypt, the Minister of Social Affairs signed a year 2000 budget for $27,000 for the compensation of mine/UXO victims. In Iraq, the ICRC reports that an estimated 3,000 patients per year receive ICRC prostheses, of whom over 50 percent are mine survivors. In Lebanon, the Ministry of Health stopped providing prosthetic services due to a lack of funding. In May 2000, a new disability law was passed by the Parliament. In Yemen, the Ministry of Insurance, Social Affairs, and Labor (MOISA) and the Ministry of Public Health, in partnership with Handicap International (Belgium) established a rehabilitation center in Aden. MOISA has reorganized its community based rehabilitation program to be more responsive to the needs of landmine survivors.