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Last Updated: 09 October 2014

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Overall Mine Action Performance: AVERAGE BUT IMPROVING[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 Kingdom of Thailand is affected by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), the result of earlier conflicts on its borders with Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, and Myanmar. Thailand is, however, still without a precise estimate of the extent of its mined area.

A 2001 Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) identified 530 communities in 27 of Thailand’s 76 provinces and more than 500,000 people as mine/ERW-affected, estimating total mine and ERW contamination at 2,557km2.[2] Thailand’s revised Article 5 deadline extension request, submitted in 2008, claimed it had released 1,355km2 of this area, leaving a total of 1,202km2 of suspect hazardous area (SHA) to be released, including 528km2 of “real minefield” requiring manual clearance.[3]

Thailand’s 700km-long border with Cambodia, used as a base for Cambodian non-state armed groups in the 1980s and 1990s, is the worst affected, accounting for three-quarters of the LIS estimate of contamination and 51 of its 69 high-impacted communities.[4] The Thailand Mine Action Service (TMAC) has identified 92km2 of suspected contamination on its northern border with Lao PDR and western areas on the border with Myanmar.[5]

The Monitor identified one fatality and 15 casualties caused by ERW in 2013, down from 20 casualties the previous year.[6] Mine incidents on the Thai-Cambodian border in the last three years have killed one Thai soldier and injured 10 others and contributed to tensions between the two countries over border demarcation. The Thai military protested to Cambodia in March 2013 after a mine blast injured three rangers. Defence Minister Sukumpol Sawanatat stated that mines found at the location of the incident did not belong to Thailand, but said they might have been placed by illegal loggers.[7] Cambodia denied responsibility.[8]

Violent conflict in the mainly Muslim southern provinces has continued since 2004, including use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), some of them victim-activated, but there were no reports of casualties caused by these devices in 2013.[9]

Mine Action Program

The National Committee for Humanitarian Mine Action (NMAC), set up in 2000 and chaired by the prime minister, has responsibility for overseeing the national mine action program, but has not met since 2008.

TMAC was established in 1999 under the Armed Forces Supreme Command to coordinate, monitor, and conduct mine/unexploded ordnance survey, mine clearance, mine/ERW risk education (RE), and victim assistance throughout Thailand. TMAC is also responsible for establishing a program to meet Thailand’s obligations as a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty.[10] However, TMAC has had to contend with limited funding and, as a military organization, with regular rotation of personnel at all levels.[11] Its Director General, Lieutenant-General Krisda Norapoompipat, who took over in October 2013 is the eighth since TMAC became operational in 2000 and the fourth in the last four years.

TMAC pressed for a change in its status to a civilian organization in 2005, prompted by the slow progress of demining and the armed forces’ limited budget for its operations. The NMAC agreed in principle to TMAC becoming a foundation in February 2007 but proposed to keep it under the armed forces. A final decision is still pending. NMAC decided in February 2007 to establish five sub-committees for victim assistance, coordination with foreign organizations, demining, RE, and also for monitoring and evaluation. The Demining and Monitoring and Evaluation sub-committees met once in 2012 and once in 2013.[12]

TMAC operated with four humanitarian mine action units (HMAUs) employing a total operations staff of around 287, including 132 deminers, 77 surveyors, 13 explosive ordnance disposal technicians, and 20 mine detection dogs.[13] Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) has supported TMAC since 2011, operating one 10-man survey team, increased in 2012 to two teams, conducting non-technical survey (NTS) in Surin province bordering Cambodia in cooperation with HMAU 3.[14] In September 2013, NPA signed its third memorandum of understanding since January 2012 with TMAC, and an updated Project Annex  providing additional details of the project to run until December 2014. In July 2013, after completing its fourth Land Release pilot  survey in Surin, NPA moved operations to work with HMAU 4 on the Thai-Myanmar border. In the first quarter of 2014, NPA adopted a “Part-completion initiative” aiming to work with HMAU 4 and complete release of all known hazardous areas on the borders with Lao PDR and Myanmar by September 2015.[15] In 2014, it embarked on five tasks covering 25.5km2.[16]

Since October 2009, NPA has also supported TMAC’s database unit providing a data entry technician to help consolidate data and resolve gaps left by missing clearance reports, assisted by periodic visits by NPA’s regional information management advisor. The number of data gaps fell from 120 to 71 in 2013.[17]

APOPO, a Belgian NGO, worked in partnership with local NGO Peace Road Organization in 2011−2012 conducting NTS and “limited technical survey” in Trat and Chanthaburi provinces on the Cambodian border. In 2013, APOPO conducted survey in Ubon Ratchathani and Buriram provinces but ended operations in Thailand in 2013 as a result of lack of funding, relocating to Cambodia in 2014.[18]

As of May 2014, it was unclear what impact the military coup in Thailand would have on the mine action program.

Strategic planning

TMAC does not have a strategic plan but in 2013 it said it planned to present a revised strategic plan to the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty.[19] It did not do so.

Land Release

Thailand released a total of almost 32km2 of mined area in 2013, 53% more than the previous year, reflecting increased confidence in survey and land release methodologies. Only 0.3km2 of the total was, though, released by clearance.[20] TMAC gives priority to accelerating land release through non-technical and technical survey. A series of workshops conducted in 2013−2014 have focused on developing criteria to classify and prioritize land for clearance according to socio-economic impact.[21]

Release of mined areas in 2013[22]


Area cancelled by NTS (m2)

Area released by TS (m2)

Area cleared (m2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed*

Antivehicle mines destroyed*

























Note: *Differences with the number of mines reported destroyed in 2013 may originate from delayed destruction of mines reported cleared in 2012

Survey in 2013

TMAC reported conducting survey on 39 CHAs in Sakaeo, Chanthaburi, Trat, Sisaket, Surin, Burirum, Nan, Mae Hong Son, and Chiangmai covering a total of 31.6km2, of which 31.6km2 was cancelled or released, and 0.3km2 was confirmed as a hazardous area requiring full clearance.[23]

NPA initially worked in Surin province with HMAU 3 but in May 2013 conducted a feasibility study and impact assessment in northern Chiang Mai province; in July, with TMAC’s approval, NPA shifted its teams to undertake survey and land release on two confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs) near the border with Myanmar, working in cooperation with HMAU 4. NPA released a total of 1.83km2 of which 0.67m2 was canceled by NTS and 1.16m2 released by technical survey (TS).[24] In 2014, NPA deployed a survey team to Phayao province bordering Lao PDR to complete an impact assessment and NTS of one task and deployed another survey team to Mae Hong Son province to complete NTS of the four remaining known tasks in the north, northwest, and west located in the provinces of Chiangmai, Mae Hong Son, and Tak on the border with Myanmar.[25]

Mine clearance in 2013

Three of TMAC’s four HMAUs conducted full clearance in 2013, completing clearance of a total of 0.31km2, the same level of activity as the previous year.[26]

Mine clearance in 2013


Mined areas cleared

Area cleared (m2)

Antipersonnel mines found

Antivehicle mines found





















Article 5 Compliance

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the nine-and-a-half year extension granted by States Parties in 2008), Thailand is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 November 2018.[27]

Thailand’s extension request estimated the area requiring full clearance at 528km². It said Thailand would employ some 900 deminers and clear or release between 40km and 65km a year during the plan period, setting a target of 170km² in the first four years.[28] TMAC, however, has not received the resources to fulfill this plan. TMAC has never had sufficient resources to work with the capacity envisaged in the extension request and the gap between land release targets and results continues to widen, albeit at a slower rate as land release methodologies become more efficiently applied. In the last five years, Thailand released less than one-third of the amount of land targeted in the extension request.

Land release in 2009–2013 compared to the extension request targets (km2)


Mined area cleared

Total area released

Extension Request target

























Lack of attention to mine action by political leaders remains a major constraint on progress, resulting in lack of funds for TMAC and the mine action sector. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra received a group of mine action NGOs, led by NPA, at her office in June 2013; she expressed support for their work and said she would urge the relevant agencies to clear mine-affected areas and provide support to victims, but did not commit to further concrete action.[29]

Tensions and disagreements with Cambodia on demarcation of their shared border continue to obstruct clearance and release of mined land on both sides of the border. A Thai-Cambodian Joint Working Group, established to agree on ways to implement an International Court of Justice (ICJ) judgment, agreed in May 2013 to joint demining of the area adjacent to Preah Vihear temple but no further action has yet been taken. In November 2013, the ICJ issued an interpretation of its 1962 judgment in the case concerning the Preah Vihear temple. As of April 2014, TMAC was awaiting a legal analysis of the judgment before deciding on a course of action.[30]

Support for Mine Action

Mine action in Thailand is largely government-funded. TMAC’s budget for fiscal year 2014 (1 October 2013 to 30 September 2014) amounted to THB72.65 million (US$2.24 million), about 10% less than the previous year.[31] NPA’s program, funded by Norway, contributed NOK3.8 million in 2013 (US$650,000).[32]


·         Thailand should present an updated estimate of remaining mine contamination, taking account of new survey, clearance, and other land release in recent years.

·         TMAC should strengthen its mine action reporting and data management to the point where it can provide timely, accurate data on the results of TMAC and NGO operations.

·         Thailand should present a strategic plan to complete its Article 5 obligations on the basis of updated data and with realistic timelines for clearance based on available or likely capacity and funding.

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

[2] Survey Action Center (SAC) and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), “Landmine Impact Survey: Kingdom of Thailand,” 2001, pp. 7 and 17.

[3] Mine Ban Treaty Revised Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 7 August 2008, pp. 15 and 19; and statement of Thailand, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 4 December 2013.

[4] SAC and NPA, “Landmine Impact Survey: Kingdom of Thailand,” 2001, pp. 22 and 88.

[5] Email from Visavesa Chuaysiri, Information Management and Operations Officer, NPA Thailand, 6 May 2014.

[6] Information provided by Database Unit, TMAC, 14 May 2014.

[7] Public Relation Region 4, “Chief of Army Protested to Cambodia at landmines planting to harm Thai Soldiers,” 9 March 2013; “Second Army Chief Protest at Landmines,” Bangkok Post, 8 March 2013; and “Sukumpol Presumed Mines Belong to Logging Group,” MCOT PLC, 7 March 2013.

[8] Statement of Cambodia, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 28 May 2013; and Kaing Menghun, “Cambodia Hits Back Over Thai Border Landmine Claims,” The Cambodia Daily, 10 March 2013.

[9] Based on Monitor analysis of media reports for 2012 and 2013. “Summary of Violence in the South of Thailand from Jan 2004 to February 2012,” Deep South Watch, Center for Conflict Studies and Cultural Diversity, Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus, 1 April 2012. The Center recorded 11,542 violent incidents between January 2004 and February 2012, resulting in 13,571 casualties, including 5,086 deaths. It is not known how many were killed by IEDs. Media reports include: “Laying Mine to Lure the Police; One lost leg Another Seriously Injured,” Thairath, 21 March 2012; “Narathiwas Villagers Stepped on Mine and Lost Two Legs,” INN News, 27 October 2012; “Narathiwas Soldiers Stepped on Mine, Four Injured, 1 Lost Leg,” INN News, 5 September 2012; “Temporary Staff of the Krue Sor High Way Office Stepped on Mine, One Injured,” Matichon, 26 September 2012; and “Unlucky man stopped to Pee, Stepped on Mine and Had Serious Injury – Nine Year Old Boy Lost a Leg,” Deep South Watch, 10 September 2012.

[10] “About us: Thailand Mine Action Center,” TMAC website, accessed 14 July 2012.

[11] Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by Lt.-Gen. Attanop Sirisak, Director-General, TMAC, 20 May 2011.

[12] Document for the Sub-Committee Meetings, Monitor and Evaluation Subcommittee and Clearance and Demining Sub-Committee on 7 September 2012, at TMAC.

[13] Information provided by Database Unit, TMAC, 14 May 2014.

[14] Interview with Aubrey Sutherland-Pillai, Country Director, NPA Thailand, Bangkok, 5 July 2013.

[15] Email from Aubrey Sutherland-Pillai, NPA Thailand, 2 May 2014.

[16] Email from Visavesa Chuaysiri, NPA Thailand, 6 May 2014.

[17] Interview with Aubrey Sutherland-Pillai, NPA Thailand, Bangkok, 16 March 2014; and email, 2 May 2014; and information provided by Siwaporn Suanyu, Data Entry Officer, NPA Thailand, 30 April 2014.

[18] Email from Kim Warren, Country Programme Director Cambodia (previously Programme Manager Thailand), APOPO, 2 May 2014.

[19] Interview with Col. Nippon Maneesai, Assistant Director-General, TMAC, 23 March 2013.

[20] Information provided by Database Unit, TMAC, 14 May 2014; and interview with Lt.-Gen. Krisda Norapoompipat, TMAC, Bangkok, 17 March 2014.

[21] Interview with Lt.-Gen. Krisda Norapoompipat, Director General, TMAC, Bangkok, 17 March 2014; statement of Thailand, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 4 December 2013; document of Workshop on Priority Setting, 18–19 December 2013; and document of Workshop on Confirmed Hazardous Areas Impact Assessment, 26–28 May 2014.

[22] Information provided by Database Unit, TMAC, 14 May 2014.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Interview with Aubrey Sutherland-Pillai, NPA Thailand, Bangkok, 14 May 2014.

[25] Email from Aubrey Sutherland-Pillai, NPA Thailand, 2 May 2014.

[26] Information provided by Database Unit, TMAC, 14 May 2014. HMAU 4 conducted only NTS and TS.

[28] Ibid., p. 23.

[29] Royal Thai Government (RTG), “Prime Minister Supports and Urges Mine Clearance, Reassures on Assistance for People with Disabilities,” RTG website, 12 June 2013; and NPA, “Delegation lobbies for completion of mine clearance,” NPA website, 18 June 2013.

[30] Interview with Lt.-Gen. Norapoompipat, TMAC, in Geneva, 9 April 2014.

[31] Information provided by Database Unit, TMAC, 14 May 2014.

[32] Interview with Aubrey Sutherland-Pillai, NPA Thailand, Bangkok, 14 May 2014.