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Last Updated: 24 August 2014

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

 The Kingdom of Morocco remains significantly affected by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), especially in territory under its control in Western Sahara, on the west side of the berm.[1] Its contamination is largely a result of the conflict between the Royal Moroccan Army (RMA) and Polisario Front forces over Western Sahara. Morocco has pledged to clear minefields it has laid as soon as the conflict is over.[2]

The exact extent of contamination is not known, though according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), “the areas surrounding the Berm are believed to be some of the most heavily mined in the world.”[3] In the past, Morocco declared, highly improbably, that a total of 120,000km2 of area was contaminated.[4] A separate report exists on contamination and clearance in Western Sahara east of the berm.[5]

In its most recent voluntary Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report, Morocco identified 10 areas as having been mined by the Polisario Front since 1975: Bir Anzarane, Douiek, Gerret Auchfaght, Gor Lbard, Gor Zalagat, Hagounia, Idiriya, Imlili, Itgui, and Tarf Mhkinza.[6] The area of Glibat Jadiane, which had been listed as contaminated in earlier years, is no longer included on the list of mined areas.[7]

Mine Action Program

Morocco does not have a national mine action authority or a mine action center.

Morocco initiated major demining efforts in 2007, following an increase in the number of mine accidents. The RMA conducts land release activities manually. In 2010, Morocco declared it has employed 10,000 deminers, although only 400 detectors were at their disposal at that time.[8] This raised serious questions both about the procedures being used and the accuracy of clearance figures being reported. Morocco has not adopted national mine action legislation or standards, but reported, most recently in April 2013, that “normal safety and environmental protection standards have been followed.”[9]

The UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) coordinates mine action activities with both parties to the conflict. In this respect, MINURSO Mine Action Coordination Centre organized meetings in 2012 with the RMA and the Polisario Front on information sharing, demining methodologies, risk education, and victim assistance.[10]

Land Release

The UN Secretary-General reported that, between April 2013 and March 2014, the RMA “cleared” more than 259km2, destroying in the process 1,542 items of explosive ordnance, including antipersonnel and antivehicle mines, as well as unexploded ordnance (UXO).[11] Morocco reported clearing a total of 220km2 in 2012, destroying 509 antipersonnel mines, 1,678 antivehicle mines, and 3,271 items of UXO.[12]

According to voluntary Article 7 reports submitted by Morocco since 2008, the RMA cleared approximately 2,270km2 between January 2007 and December 2012.[13] At the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Morocco claimed that 3,928km2 had been “cleared” between January 2007 and October 2013.[14] These figures must describe primarily land release by means other than physical clearance.

Support for Mine Action

No information is publicly available on Morocco’s funding of its mine action operations.

[1] The Berm refers to the defensive wall built by Morocco between 1982 and 1987 to secure the northwestern corner of Western Sahara. It is constituted of earthen walls some three meters in height. Morocco controls the area located on the west side of the Berm.

[3] AOAV, “Making life safer for the people of Western Sahara,” London, August 2011.

[4] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 25 May 2009.

[8] Statement of Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 23 June 2010.

[10] Report of the UN Secretary-General on Western Sahara, UN doc. S/2013/220, 8 April 2013.

[11] Report of the UN Secretary-General on Western Sahara, UN doc. S/2014/258, 10 April 2014.

[13] Ibid., 2008; 2009; 2010; 2011; and April 2013.

[14] Statement of Morocco, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 2 December 2013.