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Last Updated: 17 December 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

As a result of border conflicts with Ethiopia, and two decades of civil war, Somalia is littered with landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination and stockpiles of weapons. The landmine problem in Somalia is only comprehensible in the context of the security situation in the country, and even then, the problem is not completely understood.

Landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and other ERW are a contributing factor to the protracted emergency situation in many parts of Somalia. Incidents involving explosive devices were reported almost daily through June 2012.[1] The mine problem is exacerbated by the ongoing fighting between Ethiopian and Kenyan troops with Al Shabaab and various clan militias. Danish Demining Group (DDG) and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) report there are privately held stockpiles of varying size of abandoned explosive ordnance (AXO) and unexploded ordnance (UXO), which pose a significant threat from accidental explosions as well as possible diversion of explosives to construct IEDs.[2]

The UN is concerned that any period of calm and stability in Somalia following an increase of international support for the government, particularly in and around Mogadishu, could lead to large population displacement. This could greatly increase the need for clearance, survey, and risk education (RE) activities to meet the needs of returnees with little notice.[3]


Surveys in Bakol, Bay, and Hiraan regions in south central Somalia have revealed that, of the 718 communities in total, approximately one in 10 contained mined areas. Surveys in the Afgoye Corridor and parts of Mogadishu have indicated high levels of ERW along with some antipersonnel and antivehicle mines.[4] As recently as May 2012, mine-laying was still reportedly occurring in south-central and eastern Somaliland.[5] In south central Somalia, some of the contaminated areas are in Abodwaq (Galguduud region), Belet Weyn (Hiraan), Dollow (Gedo), and Mataban (Galguduud).[6] Other mined areas are mainly along the Ethiopian border, but they seem to have minimal impact on the surrounding population, one of the reasons why the areas have not been cleared.[7] Surveys also indicate that most districts in Mogadishu are affected to some extent by ERW and abandoned stockpiles, and IEDs present a daily threat. IEDs laid by non-state armed groups pose an additional threat to communities and aid organizations.[8]

Explosive remnants of war

Surveys by MAG, DDG, and UN Somalia Mine Action (UNSOMA), in coordination with the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), identified 340 dangerous areas in 2011 containing 3,219 ERW in Banadir, Galgaduud, and Mudug regions.[9]

In 2011, the Puntland Mine Action Center (PMAC) reported 29 incidents with IEDs resulting in 31 injuries and 12 fatalities. Of the 29 incidents, half occurred in Bossaso town in Bari region and one quarter in Galkayo town in Mudug region. The remaining quarter of the incidents were scattered around the three regions of Puntland, including the main town of Garowe. In the absence of technical capacity, the Puntland authorities would request PMAC and the police explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams to respond to IED incidents and reports, but neither PMAC nor the police had the necessary qualifications to be able to respond.[10] In response, PMAC conducted IED awareness training.[11]

UXO are said to be “held for security or for monetary value, and [UXO] erode feelings of safety; this is addressed through police EOD capacities in Somaliland and Puntland with support from the UN and MAG, as well as a Community Safety Enhancement Program implemented by DDG in Somaliland and Mudug”.[12]

Mine Action Program

Somalia has a complex operating environment with differing threat profiles. The UN has divided Somalia into three zones—Somaliland, Puntland, and south central Somalia—to implement mine action activities. The respective authorities responsible for mine action in each of the three areas design strategies and set prorities.[13] The Monitor reports on Somaliland separately.

Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Authority

Somalia National Mine Action Agency (SNMAA)

Mine action center

PMAC (covering Puntland region in northeast Somalia), South Central Somalia Mine Action Center

International operators

UNMAS in south central region, MAG, DDG, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)

National operators

Puntland police, TFG police

International risk education operators

DDG, UNMAS, MAG, Ukroboronservice

National risk education operators

Puntland police

South central Somalia

The UN Somalia Mine Action Programme (known as UN Somalia Mine Action, UNSOMA) has been managed by UNMAS since early 2009.[14] UNMAS provides capacity development to the local authorities, engages in emergency humanitarian activities, and supports the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).[15] In South Central Somalia, UNSOMA provides capacity-building support to AMISOM with respect to explosives management in Mogadishu where there are large quantities of ERW, weapons, and ammunition stockpiles. In 2011, UNSOMA trained 58 AMISOM personnel to EOD Level Two standard. UNSOMA has an office in Nairobi to provide managerial and support functions for the Regional Offices in Somalia.[16]

On 4 December 2011, Presidential Decree No. 276 established the Somalia National Mine Action Agency (SNMAA) under the supervision of the Office of the President, with its main office in Mogadishu. The SNMAA has the authority to coordinate, supervise, and implement mine action activities in addition to approving national strategies and maintaining a national database and is responsible for the implementation of all obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Antipersonnel Landmine Treaty and other disarmament treaties adhered to by the government of Somalia. Article 6 of the Presidential Decree allows SNMAA to borrow money from both national and international financial institutions.[17]

Several days prior to issuing the decree that established SNMAA, Presidential Decree No. 272 of 29 November 2011 appointed Mohamed Abdulkadir Ahmed as the national director of the Agency.[18] Ahmed had previously worked with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) as an International Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) expert. As of May 2012, the SNMAA was significantly under-resourced. Mohamed Ahmed reported having only a desk, a chair, and no mandate at the UNMAS compound in Mogadishu.[19]

DDG’s operations in Somalia are focused in and around the capital, Mogadishu, and the town of Galkayo, split by a “green line” between the semi-autonomous State of Puntland in the north and the self-declared State of Galmudug, which claims Galkayo’s southern part. DDG conducts general mine action assessments in the Afgoye corridor, Galkayo, and Mogadishu. It also identifies dangerous areas, updates city threat maps for both Galkayo and Mogadishu, and delivers RE.[20]

MAG discontinued its EOD activities in support of the Puntland police EOD team after four years when funding ran out at the end of 2011. MAG found donor interest in EOD lagged when outputs dropped significantly in 2011 as a result of less contamination. In 2011, funding for community liaison activities in Puntland ended. MAG remains in Somalia engaged in weapons destruction projects through the provision of infrastructure development, training, and weapons destruction in support of the police, maritime police, and eventually the army.[21]

As of April 2012, MAG had two EOD teams operating in South Central Somalia; one in Galmudug and the other in ASWJ region.[22]

Northeast Somalia

In Puntland, PMAC coordinates all pillars of mine action on behalf of the government with several local and international partners. The police EOD team is responsible for collecting and destroying unexploded ordnance. UNMAS provides funds for operations and capacity building and technical advice to PMAC and the police EOD team. MAG had conducted training, operational, and administrative supervision to the police EOD and RE teams from 2008 until December 2011. DDG teams collect and destroy UXO as well as provide RE to the members of local communities in Mudug region while Handicap International (HI) manages an RE project.[23]

In 2011, PMAC recruited an IMSMA Assistant and Operations Assistant to address an increasing workload and continued on-the-job training for all PMAC staff on activities. Regional Liaison Officers were trained on tasking procedures, reporting formats and data analysis. Similarly, the police EOD team leader and his assistant were introduced to basic administrative procedures.[24]

Land Release

There is no formal land release policy in Somalia. Operators clear explosive items on location primarily on a response/call-out basis.

Instability and security concerns are major impediments to field operations. With the expansion of operations into South Central Somalia, MAG says security has become their main preoccupation.[25] MAG and DDG reported they spend considerable time and resources on security issues and conditions can change suddenly forcing them to temporarily suspend operations.[26] In October 2011, the DDG suspended all activities after two of its international staff members were abducted from their vehicle in South Galkayo, in Galmudug. In November MAG and HI suspended their activities after the DDG staff members were kidnapped.[27] The two DDG staff members were rescued unharmed by US Special Forces on 25 January 2012.[28] Both MAG and DDG resumed activities in February 2012.

Survey in 2011

MAG and DDG did not systematically survey mined areas in 2011.[29] However, DDG, MAG, and UNSOMA, in coordination with UNMAS, conducted non-technical surveys in Banadir (the region where Mogadishu is located), Galgaduud, and Mudug, where security conditions allowed. In Banadir, UNSOMA identified 321 contaminated areas containing 3,219 ERW and in Mudug and Galgaduud MAG and DDG reported 19 dangerous areas for a total of 340 dangerous areas identified in 2011.[30]

In April 2012, MAG began a Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) survey of 30 police armories in Puntland, with plans to replicate the project in Somaliland, pending funding.[31]

Mine and battle area clearance in 2011

With UNSOMA support and training in South Central Somalia, AMISOM conducted clearance and EOD in all 16 districts of Mogadishu, destroying more than 6,000 items.[32]

With funding from Japan through the AMISOM Trust Fund, the main road from the sea to Mogadishu was cleared of ERW, abandoned stockpiles, and ammunition. UNSOMA re-opened over 993,000m2 of road and destroyed more than 12,000 pieces of UXO.[33]

In 2011, the six AMISOM EOD teams in Mogadishu destroyed 22 antivehicle mines, 19 antipersonnel mines, and 6,076 items of UXO.[34]

In Puntland, no mine clearance has been conducted since the landmine impact survey was completed in 2005, when it identified 35 SHAs in Bari, Mudug, and Togdheer regions of Puntland.[35] According to MAG, the impact from mines is unclear and further non-technical and technical surveys are required to ensure the cost and impact effectiveness of future clearance of the suspected mined areas near the Ethiopia-Somalia border in Puntland, where most are located. The situation is additionally complicated by community elders in the impacted areas not consistently supporting clearance of the areas.[36]

PMAC continues to report large numbers of landmines, UXO, ammunition, and weapons stored in different locations and new dangerous areas. In the Galdogob and Gardo districts, a few residents hold hundreds of various items, but refuse to hand them over to the police or PMAC. RE teams collected hundreds of new reports of danger areas from local communities.[37]

The Puntland army authorized the relocation of a former explosive storage facility to a more secure area inside the Brigade 54 military compound, where two permanent underground magazines of explosives and explosive materials were constructed. These storehouses were constructed according to the International Mine Action Standards and National Technical Standards and Guidelines regarding fireproofing, security, ventilation, and weather resistance.[38]

The police EOD teams under MAG supervision destroyed 2,100 items of UXO, including three IEDs, and conducted battle area clearance on 817,800m2 of area. During EOD operations, the police also collected and destroyed 383 antipersonnel mines and two antivehicle mines that had been stored in households, abandoned buildings, and police stations.[39]

In June 2010, DDG began a comprehensive Community Safety Programme in Galkayo to enhance safety through participatory community planning around the management of weapons and ammunition storage.[40] As with other DDG programs in Somalia, the program was suspended in November 2011 after the two DDG international staff members were abducted.[41] In 2011, two DDG EOD teams in the Mudug/Galguduud region conducted 189 spot tasks covering 118,125m2 and destroying 855 items of UXO.[42]

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

On 16 April 2012, Somalia became the 160th State Party to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Somalia is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 October 2022.

Quality management

In 2011, PMAC issued 43 task orders to the police EOD team. It also conducted 18 quality assurance visits on the EOD clearance operations and monitored RE delivery methodologies to ensure whether the operational procedures of the respective activities were in compliance to the required safety standards.[43]

Risk Education

UNMAS reported that RE in south central Somalia reached 260,000 men, women, and boys in 2011, through DDG, the Ukrainian commercial company Ukroboronservice SC (UOS)[44], and UNSOMA teams.[45]

In 2011, UOS delivered RE to more than 66,000 persons. Three DDG RE teams conducted 207 sessions in Mogadishu for more than 60,000 persons.[46] In February 2011, the Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines (SOCBAL) hosted an RE workshop for 25 participants from the Mogadishu area.[47]

In Puntland in northeast Somalia, DDG conducted 115 RE sessions for more than 18,000 persons. Over half of the participants were women.[48] HI delivered RE messages through the distribution of T-shirts, posters, and leaflets in six districts RE community networks through March 2011, when the lack of funding closed the program.[49] Two MAG roving RE teams from Puntland provide emergency RE to NGOs providing famine relief.[50]

As of 25 April 2012, the Ministry of Education in Puntland was still reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding on the RE materials developed by DDG, HI, and MAG. In South Central Somalia, the RE materials have been adapted to a more urban focus and are used in schools supported by UNICEF.[51]


[1] Ibrahim, Abdifitah, “Ten Dead as Minibus Hits Landmine,” Somalia Report, 27 April 2011 and AMISOM, “A Year in Mogadishu: Looking Back at 2011,” available at, www.amisom-au.org, AMISOM Review, Issue 6, January 2012.

[2] Responses to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, Director of Operations, MAG, 8 May 2012; and from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, Regional Director & Representative for Armed Violence Reduction, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[3] UNMAS, “UNMAS Mine Action Programming Handbook,” January 2012.

[4] UNMAS Annual Report 2011, August 2012, p. 68.

[5] UNMAS, Factsheet Vol. 1 – Somalia 2012; MAG, “UK Secretary of State for International Development visits EOD teams in Puntland,” Reliefweb, 24 April 2012; and Response to Monitor questionnaire from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[6] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[7] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012.

[9] UNMAS, “UNMAS Annual Report 2011,” New York, August 2012, p.68.

[10] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, p. 3.

[11] Ibid., p. 14.

[12] UN, “2011 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects,” New York, March 2011, p. 256.

[13] Ibid., p. 257.

[14] UNMAS, “UNMAS 2010 Annual Report,” New York, August 2010, p. 54.

[15] UN, “2011 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects,” New York, March 2011, p. 257; and interview with Tammy Orr, UNMAS, in Geneva, 16 March 2011.

[16] UNOPS, Job advertisement for the UN Somalia Mine Action Programme, February 2012, not available online.

[17] Presidential Decree Somali Republic No. 276, 4 December 2011.

[18] Presidential Decree Somali Republic No. 272, 29 November 2011.

[19] Interview with Mohamed Abdulkadir Ahmed, Director, SNMAA, in Geneva, 24 May 2012.

[20] DDG, “South/Central Somalia and Puntland,” 17 July 2012.

[21] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012.

[22] Ibid,. The ASWJ Region (Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamma) refers to an NSAG based in the vicinity of the Galgadud district in South Central Somalia, 5 March 2012.

[23] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, p. 3.

[24] Ibid., pp. 8–9.

[25] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012.

[26] Ibid.; and Response to Monitor questionnaire from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[27] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, p. 10.

[28] Associated Press, “Somalia: foreign aid workers held hostage freed in US helicopter raid,” Guardian, 25 January 2012.

[29] Responses to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012; and from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[30] UNMAS, “UNMAS Annual Report 2011,” New York, August 2012, p. 68.

[31] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012.

[33] Ibid.; and UNMAS, “UNMAS Annual Report 2011,” New York, August 2012, p. 69.

[34] UNMAS, “UNMAS Annual Report 2011,” New York, August 2012, p.68.

[35] Interview with Abdirisak Issa Hussein; Director, PMAC, in Geneva, 22 March 2012.

[36] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012.

[37] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, pp. 15 & 10–11.

[38] Ibid., pp. 8–9.

[39] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, p. 9.

[41] Associated Press, “Somalia: foreign aid workers held hostage freed in US helicopter raid,” Guardian, 25 January 2012.

[42] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[43] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, p. 8.

[44] Ukroboronservice SC (UOS) is a commercial company in Kiev, Ukraine, established in 1993 that engages in humanitarian demining among its activities. They operate in Somalia under a contract from UNOPS.

[45] UNMAS, “UNMAS Annual Report 2011,” New York, August 2012, pp. 63 & 68.

[46] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[47] Email from Abdilahi Yusuf, Chairman, SOCBAL, 1 April 2011.

[48] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Klaus Ljoerring Pedersen, DDG, 8 May 2012.

[49] PMAC, “PMAC 2011 Annual Report,” Garowe, January 2012, p. 11.

[50] Response to Monitor questionnaire from Rob White, MAG, 8 May 2012.

[51] Email from Karen Culver, DDG, Hargeisa, 26 April 2012.