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Country Reports
ALGERIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Algeria signed the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1997 but has not ratified it yet. Algeria did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels declaration in June 1997 and attended the Oslo negotiations in September initially as an observer. In Oslo, however, Algeria announced it had changed its position and would sign the ban treaty in December. Algeria voted “Yes” on the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution supporting negotiations of a total ban on antipersonnel mines as soon as possible and voted “Yes” on the 1997 UNGA Resolution inviting all states to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. It also voted in favor of the 1998 UNGA Resolution urging ratification and universalization of the treaty. It is a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, but it hasn’t ratified the amended Protocol II on landmines (1996).

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Algeria does not produce antipersonnel mines and is not known to have exported landmines to other countries. Algeria has reportedly imported mines and explosives from Italy, France, Yugoslavia, Great Britain and China.[1] Algeria has a stockpile of mines, although the numbers and composition are unclear.

Some new mines have been laid due to Algeria’s security problems of the 1990s. Reports suggest that GIA (groupe islamiste arme) has used mines to counter pursuit by the Algerian national army. Minefields have been found in the regions where GIA operates and according the Algerian newspaper L'Authentique, at least 1,500 mines needed to be removed in the regions of Ouled Allel.[2] The train between Algiers and Oran, a popular tourist route, has been attacked at least twenty-five times, often with landmines, and is nicknamed “the train of death.”[3]

Landmine Problem

Algeria has a slight landmine problem. German and Italian troops laid minefields in the Northern Coastal areas during World War II and French troops laid mines near the Tunisian and Moroccan borders until 1962.[4] According to the Civilian Victims of the War of Liberation Association, France left “two million pieces of landmines in Algeria,” planting landmines along the famous electrified line of “Challe et Morice”’ at a rate of one landmine per meter.[5] While many mines have been removed, according to the government, today there are about 1.3 million mines in place, including 913,000 in the Eastern frontier, 409,000 in Djebel et Kssour, and 4,200 in the Western frontier.[6]

Mine Action

At the end of the Algerian war for independence, the Army undertook a significant effort to demine the regions infested by mines. Mine removal programs are still the responsibility of the Army. The Army has received maps from France showing the mined zones. The mined zones are often uninhabited desert places or mountainous areas that are difficult to access.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has distributed information kits on landmines to authorities in the North Africa region, although no specifics regarding Algeria are known.[7]

Landmine Casualties

It is unclear how many civilians have been killed or wounded by landmines. According to the Algerian newspaper El Acil, there have been more than 3,000 victims of mines since the independence.[8] According to other sources, 40,000 people have been killed and 80,000 people wounded as a result of the landmines placed along the 2,000 kilometer “Challe et Morice” line.[9] A recent landmine victim was a farmer who lost his legs as he tried to plow his land in September 1998, at Hoauch Benidja in the region of Sidi Moussa.[10] In 1974, a law was implemented by Algerian National Assembly to give financial assistance to landmine survivors.[11]


[1]Osservatorio sul commercio delle arme report, Italy.

[2]Journal l'Authentique, 6 September 1998.

[3]John Burns, “Algeria Back from the Brink,” The Observer, 14 March 1999.

[4]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, 1993, p. 44.

[5]“Landmines: A Problem for Algeria as Well,” Reuters, 24 December 1997.

[6]Le Reseau D Echanges Multidisciplinaire Pour L’Environment et le Developpement, Algerie, Conference Regionale Sur les Dangers des Mines Terrestres dans les Pays Arabes, 11-12 February 1999.

[7]International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1996: Tunis, Regional Delegation (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco/Western Sahara, Tunisia), 1 June 1997.

[8]El Acil, 6 September 1998.

[9]“Landmines: A Problem for Algeria as Well,” IPR Strategic Business Information Database, 24 December 1997.

[10]El Acil, 6 September 1998.

[11]Le Reseau D Echanges Multidisciplinaire Pour L’Environment et le Developpement, Algerie, Conference Regionale Sur les Dangers des Mines Terrestres dans les Pays Arabes, 11-12 February 1999.