Last Updated: 09 October 2014

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Overall Mine Action Performance: VERY POOR[1]

Performance Indicator


Problem understood


Target date for completion of clearance


Targeted clearance


Efficient clearance


National funding of program


Timely clearance


Land release system


National mine action standards


Reporting on progress


Improving performance





The Republic of Senegal is affected by mines and other explosive ordnance as a result of fighting between the Senegalese Armed Forces and a non-state armed group, the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance, MFDC). Contaminated areas are located in the Casamance region of Senegal between Gambia to the north and Guinea-Bissau to the south.

An Emergency Landmine Impact Survey (ELIS) in 2005–2006 had estimated that 11km2 of land and 63km of tracks/paths were mine-affected across 149 suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) in 93 “localities.”[2] In 2008, Senegal acknowledged that the ELIS “might have overestimated the number of affected areas.”[3] At the same time, however, it was not possible to visit certain suspected areas during the ELIS.[4] Subsequently, 11 SHAs were identified in 2011 in Gouraf in Ziguinchor region that were not included in the ELIS.[5]

Senegal has yet to establish an accurate assessment of the extent of contamination, although in December 2013 Senegal reported that confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs) covered an estimated 333,415m2 in four departments: Goudomp (149,537m2), Oussouye (112,000m2), Ziguinchor (53,478m2), and Bignona (18,400m2).[6] Survey was said to be required in 296 localities covering an estimated area of 1.4km2.

Following the abduction of 12 deminers in May 2013, Senegal ordered a halt to all survey and clearance activities, which lasted eight months. In November 2013, clearance activities resumed, and Mechem, operating as a humanitarian demining operator with funds administered by UNDP, was tasked to clear sections of the main trunk road, the RN6, and a dozen laterite quarries used in a project to renovate the RN6.[7] Senegal has cited its politico-security situation to justify the deployment of its clearance assets in these areas where the safety of its demining teams could be guaranteed.[8]

The task orders have been criticized as they related to areas without credible risk of mine contamination and requests from operators to conduct surveys prior to deploying clearance assets were denied.[9] According to Handicap International (HI), as of November 2013—when task orders were given—only one polygon crossed by the RN6 in Sindone Lagoua (20km from Ziguinchor) was recorded as an SHA in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database, and the quarries had never been recorded as suspected or confirmed mined areas.[10]

From November 2013 to April 2014, HI identified in Sindone and in Kaour two previously unreported SHAs near the RN6. Seven suspected paths and five suspected polygons were found in the department crossed by the RN6 in Southern Casamance (between the Casamance river and Guinea-Bissau).[11]

In contrast, recent reports indicate that considerable mine contamination may lie in unmarked minefields around former and active Senegalese military bases.[12] But since the resumption of clearance operations and even though most of the military bases can be readily accessed—as they are under the control of the Senegalese Armed Forces—they have not been cleared or considered as a priority for demining operations.[13] Some areas were confirmed as contaminated by non-technical survey (NTS) and are recorded in the IMSMA database, such as the village of Djirack. Others remain as either SHAs, or as credible, if unrecorded and unconfirmed reports, by local populations, such as in Badème, Basséré, Kouring, and Santhiaba Mandjack.[14]

HI carried out clearance around military installations in 2007–2012 in Darsalam and Gonoum, during which 177 antipersonnel mines were destroyed in cooperation with the Senegalese Armed Forces. Between November 2013 and April 2014, HI conducted NTS in Adeane, Djibanar, and Kaour communities. The seven military bases located in these communities were surveyed and no evidence of mines was found. Only one abandoned military base in a deserted village was identified as an SHA.[15]

In 2013, Mechem’s clearance operations in the Mpack military site resulted in destruction of all the mines found that year during all clearance operations.[16]

As of March 2014, Senegal had identified a total of more than 800 mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties.[17]

Cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war

Internal armed conflict has also resulted in a problem with ERW. In a voluntary Article 10 annual report, submitted prior to becoming a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Protocol V on ERW, Senegal noted that ERW were mainly found in the Casamance region.[18] There is no evidence of any problem with cluster munition remnants.

Mine Action Program

The National Commission for the Implementation of the Ottawa Convention serves as the National Mine Action Authority for Senegal. Demining operations in Casamance are coordinated by the Senegalese National Mine Action Center (Centre National d’Action Antimines au Sénégal, CNAMS). Regional mine action coordination committees have been established in Kolda, Sédhiou, and Ziguinchor.

Sporadic technical assistance, in particular through a technical or chief technical advisor, has been provided to the program by UNDP since June 2008. In May 2012, Senegal said that “slowness in the procedures of certain partners” had “significantly delayed the initiation and conduct of projects.”[19] In 2014, Senegal requested UNDP to provide assistance for resource mobilization and an advisor was due to be appointed by mid-April 2014.[20]

HI remained the sole international demining operator in Senegal until mid-2012 when new clearance capacities were brought with the arrival of Mechem and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA).

In 2013, Mechem teams were in the department of Ziguinchor while NPA was operating in the departments of Goudomp and Oussouye.[21] HI was conducting NTS in the departments of Kolda and Ziguinchor.[22] In total, during the year, Senegal’s mine action program had at least four survey teams, 18 manual deminers, 11 mine detection dogs, and one mechanical team with Digger D3 flail.[23]

In 2014, NPA withdrew from Senegal as a result of “government-imposed limitations on demining activities,” which prevented NPA from deploying demining resources where the necessary work could be done safely and from undertaking NTS in areas believed to be contaminated but which had not been surveyed.[24] This withdrawal resulted in the loss of funding from Norway, Germany, and the European Union (EU).[25]

Strategic planning

Senegal’s national mine action strategy for 2007–2015 set clearance of contaminated areas as a key objective, though without providing a clear work plan with annual benchmarks or a specific timeline. It also lists prioritization criteria for clearance operations.[26]

A revised strategic mine action plan was adopted by the National Commission in November 2009.[27] In March 2012, Senegal reported that a demining plan had been validated and was being implemented in the framework of funding provided by the European Commission, but without providing details.[28]

Land Release

During the past five years, Senegal cleared a total of only 0.52km2, with 90% of this clearance conducted in 2012 and 2013.  

Five-year summary of land release


Mined area cleared (km2)













According to Senegal, in 2013 Mechem and NPA together released 11 suspected mined areas covering 0.24km2, about the same as in 2012, destroying 136 antipersonnel mines in the process.[29] The mines were found in Kampada 2 and Kampada 3 sites (located in Mpack, near the border with Guinea-Bissau).[30]

Mine clearance in 2013[31]


Areas released

Clearance (m2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed













As of March 2014, Mechem was still conducting clearance operations on the RN6. Clearance in the quarries of Adéane, Baghagha, Diagnon, Kanema, Sindone, and Tabacoumba identified no mines.[32] HI was deployed in the regions of Kolda, Sedhiou, and Ziguinchor to conduct NTS.[33]

Safety of demining personnel

With the arrival of Mechem and NPA teams, clearance operations progressed rapidly and neared MFDC controlled-areas, increasing the risk that the MFDC would attempt to stop clearance operations. In March 2013, Geneva Call and APRAN-SDP organized a meeting between the MFDC Kassolol faction and CNAMS in Sao Domingos, Guinea Bissau, in order to avoid incidents and establish a dialogue between both stakeholders.[34] However, following the meeting the MFDC called publicly for a halt on humanitarian demining on the grounds that clearance teams had reached a “red line beyond which operators’ safety could not be guaranteed.”[35] Armed men subsequently kidnapped 12 deminers working for Mechem on 3 May 2013 in the village of Kaïllou (Nyassia); all were released safely, although nine were held for 70 days. Prior to their release, another meeting hosted by Geneva Call was organized in Guinea-Bissau, in July 2013, to break the deadlock and find a solution to the crisis.[36] The government responded by ordering a halt to all survey and clearance activities, a suspension that lasted until November 2013.[37] To help ensure guarantee deminers’ safety, Senegal assigned a national contact committee to meet MFDC leaders and discuss, among different topics, areas to be cleared; whenever an agreement is reached, CNAMS claims to issue task orders for the agreed areas.[38]

Article 5 Compliance

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty and in accordance with the seven-year extension request granted in 2008, Senegal is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2016.

In granting the extension request, the Ninth Meeting of States Parties noted that Senegal “does not yet have a clear knowledge of size and location of areas that will actually warrant mine clearance.” It further observed that “the commitment made by Senegal to undertake technical survey activities and to develop a cancellation procedure may result in implementation that proceeds much faster than that suggested by the amount of time requested and in a more cost-effective manner.”[39]

At the Second Review Conference, Senegal expressed the hope it would fulfill its Article 5 obligations before 2015 if the peace process continued.[40] Senegal previously stated its intention not to seek a second extension period except for “truly exceptional circumstances.”[41] Concerns remain, however, that Senegal will fail to meet its extended Article 5 deadline.

In December 2013, at the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Senegal declared it was planning to accelerate demining operations in order to be able to complete clearance by March 2016. Senegal also explained that its ability to meet its deadline depends on security conditions.[42] In April 2014, the CNAMS director informed the Monitor that Senegal has the technical capacity to clear its territory in a timely manner, noting, though, that security issues and lack of funding could affect its ability to meet its deadline. Senegal will only be able to assess its capacity to meet its Article 5 deadline by the end of 2014.[43]

By April 2014, however, Senegal’s clearance capacities were considerably limited. HI was only carrying out NTS, risk education, and victim assistance, and was seeking funds to restart its technical survey (TS) and clearance operations, Mechem’s funding was likely to run out by June 2014, and NPA had closed its program.[44] NPA’s withdrawal prompted Norway, Germany, and the EU to end their financial support to the program.

In addition, following abduction of Mechem’s deminers in 2013, Senegal announced that all demining operations would first be approved by the MFDC in meetings with Senegalese officials.[45] As of April 2014, operators were not allowed to participate in those meetings, and communication and information-sharing mechanisms between CNAMS, demining operators, and the Senegalese Armed Forces seemed to be lacking.[46] As a consequence, the slow pace of demining, as well as Senegal’s reluctance to clear its military bases make it doubtful that Senegal will be able to complete clearance by 2016.[47]

Support for Mine Action

In 2013, Senegal received US$2.4 million in international assistance from five donors. More than 80% ($2 million) of international contributions were earmarked for clearance.

Since 2009, Senegal has contributed more than US$1.5 million, or 15% of its total mine action budget. In June 2013, Senegal reported it would double its national contribution to $460,000 per year starting in 2013.[48] However, Senegal reported contributing CFA325 million (US$650,000)[49] to its mine action program in 2013, compared with $230,000 in 2012, an increase of 65%. No details of expenditure have been given.


·         CNAMS should direct TS and clearance resources to areas where credible evidence of a mine threat has already been established.

·         To determine such evidence, CNAMS should systematically conduct NTS to ensure time and resources are not wasted.

·         Senegal should clarify how it plans to meet its Article 5 obligations in time. Elaborating, in a collaborative manner with all stakeholders, a revised work-plan that takes into account recent developments would be an important step forward.


[1] See “Mine Action Program Performance” for more information on performance indicators.

[5] Email from Jean-François Lepetit, Head of Mission in Senegal, Handicap International (HI), 27 February 2011.

[6] Statement of Senegal, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 December 2013; and interview with Col. Barham Thiam, Director, Senegalese National Mine Action Center (CNAMS), and Seyni Diop, Head, Risk Education and Victim Assistance Department, CNAMS, in Geneva, 6 December 2013.

[7] Handicap International (HI), “Déminage Humanitaire en Casamance: progression du processus de remise à disposition des terres (RDT)” (“Humanitarian demining in Casamance: progress in land release”), April 2014; and Kathryn Millett, “Clearance and Compliance in Casamance: is Senegal doing all it should?,” Blog entry, 7 April 2014.

[8] Email from Col. Barham Thiam, CNMAS, 13 May 2014.

[10] HI, “Humanitarian demining in Casamance: progress in land release,” April 2014.

[11] Email from Luc Sambou, Mine Coordinator, HI, 8 May 2014.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Email from Luc Sambou, HI, 8 May 2014.

[17] Interview with Col. Thiam, CNAMS, in Geneva, 1 April 2014.

[19] Statement of Senegal, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 21 May 2012.

[20] Interview with Col. Thiam, CNAMS, in Geneva, 1 April 2014.

[21] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ibrahima Seck, Head, Operations and Information Management Department, CNAMS, 2 April 2014.

[22] Email from Luc Sambou, HI, 8 May 2014.

[23] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ibrahima Seck, CNAMS, 2 April 2014.

[25] Ibid.

[26] CNAMS, “Stratégie nationale de lutte antimines 2007–2015” (“National Mine Action Strategy 2007–15”), 20 October 2008.

[27] Email from Amb. Papa Omar Ndiaye, CNAMS, 5 February 2010.

[29] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ibrahima Seck, CNAMS, 2 April 2014.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Procès-verbal de la réunion inter-agences sur la sécurité en Casamance (Report of the interagency meeting on security in Casamance), Ziguinchor, Senegal, 11 March 2014.

[33] Email from Luc Sambou, HI, 8 May 2014.

[35] Joint Press Release from MFDC, CNAMS, Geneva Call, the Sao Domingos Prefect, and APRAN-SDP, 20 March 2013.

[36] Geneva Call, “Senegal,” undated but accessed on 14 May 2014.

[37] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Ibrahima Seck, CNAMS, 2 April 2014; and interview with Col. Thiam, CNAMS, in Geneva, 1 April 2014.

[38] Email from Col. Thiam, CNMAS, 13 May 2014.

[40] Statement of Senegal, Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, Cartagena, 2 December 2009.

[41] Statement of Senegal, Ninth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 25 November 2008. See also Senegal “Observations on the Report of the Analyzing Group,” 11 September 2008, pp. 2–3; and response to Monitor Questionnaire by Amb. Ndiaye, CNAMS, 1 May 2009.

[42] Statement of Senegal, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 December 2013.

[43] Interview with Col. Thiam, CNAMS, in Geneva, 1 April 2014.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Interview with Col. Thiam, CNAMS, in Geneva, 1 April 2014; and Kathryn Millett, “Clearance and Compliance in Casamance: is Senegal doing all it should?,” 7 April 2014.

[47] Kathryn Millett, “Clearance and Compliance in Casamance: is Senegal doing all it should?,” 7 April 2014; and telephone interview with Eusebio Jose da Silva, Committee for Demining in Casamance (an association of mine accident survivors, mine-affected displaced persons, and demining operators in Casamance), 21 March 2014.

[48] “Mobilisation des Ressources pour le Programme de Déminage Humanitaire” (“Resource mobilization for the humanitarian demining program”), Report provided by CNAMS to the ICBL, June 2013.

[49] Annual exchange rate for 2013, US$1=CFA476.642,