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Country Reports
CROATIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


With the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) also begin to disintegrate. Different parts of the SFRY began to declare independence and throughout the region there have been varying degrees of conflict in different parts of the SFRY since 1991. The former SFRY is now divided into five different countries: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), and the Republic of Macedonia.

Landmines were used in large quantities during the war in Croatia (1991-1995).[1] Given that the SFRY was a major producer of landmines (see report on Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) landmines were readily available for use and all fighting forces used them. Some sources believe that there are as many as 1.2 million mines and UXOs in eastern and western Slavonia, in Baranja, Posavina, Banovina, Lika and Dalmacija.[2] The U.S. Department of State estimates 400,000 landmines and 3,000 tons of UXOs, contaminating nearly one-quarter of the national territory.[3]

Mine Ban Policy

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ivo Sanader, signed the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa on 4 December 1997. In his remarks to the conference, he noted Croatia’s early involvement in the ban movement, “It was in May 1996 that a group of countries declared their readiness and interest to have all landmines banned. I am proud to say that Croatia readily joined the ‘Ottawa Process’ of which Canada was the initiator?.Signing the Convention, we should bear in mind that we have not completed our journey yet?.Entering into force of the Convention should be our first step and I would herewith like to call upon all the signatory states to ratify it as soon as possible.”[4] Croatia ratified the Treaty on 24 April 1998 and deposited its instruments of ratification at the United Nations on 20 May 1998.

In addition to participating in all of the Ottawa Process meetings and signing and rapidly ratifying the Mine Ban Treaty, Croatia has been involved in promoting the treaty in the region. A government delegation participated in the “Regional Conference on Landmines” hosted by the Hungarian government, ICBL and Hungarian Campaign to Ban Landmines for countries in the Baltic and Balkan regions from 26-28 March 1998. At that conference, the Croatian delegation offered to host another regional follow up meeting in 1999, which, as of this writing, is scheduled for June. Croatia acceded to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Protocol II on 2 December 1993. It has not yet ratified amended Protocol II.

Croatia has expressed support for negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. In his address to the signing conference of the Ottawa Convention, Deputy Foreign Minister Sanader noted the importance of the process of the universalization of the Convention. He stated, “The initiatives to continue the work of the Conference on Disarmament on this issue are more than welcome, for it is the opportunity to bring to the table those countries which at this stage cannot join the ‘Ottawa Process’ and sign the Convention. I am confident that the spirit of that work would be complementary to the solutions achieved in the ‘Ottawa Process’ and the Convention.”[5]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

According to military and government sources, Croatia is not producing any type of mines at the present. On 4 December 1997, Deputy Foreign Minister Sanader stated that his country was “neither a producer nor an importer or exporter of landmines.”[6]

In the past, especially during the war, some Croatian companies manufactured mines. In the very beginning of the war, Croatian forces did not have stocks of mines until taking over JNA barracks and stockpiles. During the war, Croatia developed its own capacity for mine production. Two producing companies have been identified, both government-owned -- “Vlado Bagat” in Zadar and “Rapid” in Virovitica – but information on types and quantities of mines produced is not available.[7]

During the conflict, mines were not imported. Croatian fighting forces acquired stocks during the conflict by capture and new production. There are some indications on Croatian mines exported to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) during confrontations between HVO (Croatian forces in BiH) and Army of BiH and also to Kosovo (via Split - Ancona; recently), but they are not confirmed by Croatian official sources.


All parties to the conflict in Croatia used landmines and there is some evidence of mine use since the end of the war. During 1998 there were four mine incidents in the county of Lika apparently caused by new mine laying. On 8 February 1999 the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights (CHC)[8] gave a statement about recent incidents in Lika and confirmed information previously published in Novi List that 31 people were injured (10 fatally) from “surprise mines” that were placed in yards, gardens, houses and the like. Damir Gorseta, director of CROMAC, stated that it is impossible for a non-expert to make such explosive devices.[9]

Some APMs used by JNA and later by HV[10]

Name of the mine, year of development (D), year of production (P), manufacturer, description


D: till 1955. P: till 1960."Slavko Rodic", Bugojno.

Pressure activated, antimagnetic, blast mine


D: 1962. P: till 1970."Slavko Rodic", Bugojno

Pressure activated, antimagnetic, blast


D: 1967-1970. P: till 1976."Slavko Rodic", Bugojno

Pressure activated, antimagnetic, blast


D: 1952. P: till 1962."Tito", Vogosce, "Slavko Rodic", Bugojno

Trip wire activated, fragmentation


D/P: unknown

Pressure/trip wire activated, fragmentation


D: 1959-1962. P: unknown "Krusik", Valjevo

Pressure/trip wire activated, bouncing, fragmentation


D/P: unknown

Pressure/trip wire activated, bouncing, fragmentation


D/P: unknown"Slavko Rodic", Bugojno

Pressure/trip activated, bouncing, fragmentation


D: 1975-1980. P: unknown"Slavko Rodic", Bugojno

Landmine Problem

The Croatian Mine Action Center (CROMAC) and military sources estimate the number of mines in the ground at between 700,000 – 1,000,000.[11] As noted above, the U.S. State Department puts the figure much lower, at 400,000 mines.[12] About 75% of mines are APMs.

The majority of mines are found along former confrontation lines during the war. Large concentrations of mines were left around big cities in conflict zones: Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Zadar, Knin, Karlovac, Osijek, Vukovar.[13] These cities and some other smaller inhabited areas are also contaminated with UXOs. The right riverbanks of Kupa and Korana Rivers, which are among the most mined areas in Croatia, are also littered with fragments, pieces of metal and unexploded ammunition. The concentration is so dense that is virtually impossible to use magnetic detectors and the mine detecting can be carried out only with probes.[14] Mined areas are also found deep in various provinces. Besides minefields, there are many solitaire mines and booby traps placed in order to terrorize the local population or to prevent the use of houses, farmsteads and agricultural land. Some 6,000 square kilometers of national territory are affected by landmines.[15]

A total of about 10.5% of Croatian national territory – that is 6,000 square kilometers – is considered potentially dangerous because of mines. The U.S. State Department reports that more than one-half of the affected area is in Slavonia; other heavily mined areas are in the former Serb-controlled Krajina as well as along the coast, north of Split.[16] In general, 14 types of mines have been found in 5,780 known mined areas, ranging over one-quarter of the country: houses and inhabited areas – 9.2%, Industrial areas – 5%, infrastructure (roads, railroads, airports, bridges) – 28%, agricultural areas – 27,8%, and meadows and forests – 30%.

The data from Croatian and UNPROFOR sources conflict due to different divisions of Croatian territory. UNPROFOR data corresponds to former UN-Protected Areas (UNPA) under its jurisdiction and that of the Croatian government to political divisions of the national territory into counties.

Early UNPROFOR data from the end of 1994 and the beginning of 1995 gave high figures for the number of deployed landmines. In the former South Sector (Dalmatinska Zagora, Lika up to Korenica) one million mines were said to have been placed. The same figure was given for the former North Sector (Lika from Plitvice, Kordun, Banovina and Posavina up to mouth of the river Una). There were no estimates for the former West Sector, that included parts of western Slavonia, that were occupied by Serbian rebels until May 1995, nor for the former East Sector (eastern Slavonia, Baranja and western Srijem).[17]. In early 1996, when UNTAES took control of the former East Sector and as demobilization had begun (June 1996), it would seem that new data should have been compiled although it was not made public.[18] There was some speculation of a “few hundred thousand” mines.

Some of the later estimates by the United Nations have been drastically reduced -- for example for the former South Sector, 150,000 mines as compared to the earlier figure of one million. The estimates of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MUP) for each individual county that includes parts of South Sector, gave even smaller figures. According to MUP, for example, in the county of Sibenik 343 mine fields were laid by paramilitary forces and 239 mine fields by the Croatian Army (HV) with an approximate total of 15,000 mines.

Mine Action Funding

Mine clearance did not really begin in earnest until the government passed a 1996 law on demining. The government under MUP established a “Commission for Issues of Mine Clearance” which was to coordinate mine issues and clearance was to be carried out by a government-owned company, “MUNGOS,” which was formed from the Civilian Defense Force and was envisioned to serve as the national demining agency. All international assistance had to be channeled through that agency. Then, and for the most part until now, the Croatian government has financed the majority of mine clearance operations.

In the same year, the United Nations established a Mine Action Center (MAC) to help the government to establish its own national mine action center to train national deminers and run a national demining program. In the summer of 1997, an agreement was reached whereby MAC would begin to merge with government operations. In February of 1998, a new demining law was passed in Croatia and the Croatian Mine Action Center formed. In June of 1998, the UNMAC completed merger with CROMAS; the UN remains in advisory capacity.[19]

In 1997, $16,150,000 was allocated in the federal budget for mine clearance.[20] By early October, all field operations had to stop due to total lack of finances – the entire allocation had already been spent. At the end of October the government ensured continuance of the mine clearance with an additional $10 million and promised to give more support the next year. In 1999 an increase of 4% in the federal budget for mine clearance operations is anticipated.

In his statement to the General Assembly in November of 1998, Croatian Ambassador Ivan Simonovic noted that “little international funding has been provided to assist Croatia in demining.” In that light, his government does “highly appreciate donations by the Governments of Switzerland, Germany, Italy Belgium and the UK, as well as by the European Commission and the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Demining.” The Ambassador went on to “applaud” a decision by the European Council to grant 435,000 ECU for clearance in 1998 as well as the Western European Union’s intention to send experts to coordinate, supervise and train new Croatian demining teams.[21] According to the U.S. State Department, the total provided by bilateral donations and the UN Trust Fund between 1994 and 1998 was over $4 million.[22]

In early December 1998, an international donors’ conference was held in Zagreb to raise funds for the overall reconstruction of the country. Reportedly, tensions between Croatia and Western governments over limited action on domestic non-discriminatory legislation resulted in far fewer pledges than hoped for. The majority of $9.1 million pledged by a handful of European countries and Japan was earmarked for mine clearance.[23]

Mine Clearance

As noted above, mine clearance began with the passage by the Croatian Parliament of the Mine Clearance Law in March 1996. The law described mine clearance as a “question of national security and ecological protection as well as protection of health for all citizens.”[24] The law called for the organization of mine clearance to be based on a “Mine Clearance Plan” developed by the government, which is obligated to provide an annual report on the implementation of the Plan to the Parliament. All clearance operations were under the control of MUP’s Commission for Issues of Mine Clearance and carried out by the Croatian Army, police or the government-owned mine-clearance agency, MUNGOS.

The Plan is to include data such as mined areas, available as well as needed personnel, devices and equipment, estimation of costs. and a list of areas needed to be cleared with fixed deadlines.[25] National priorities for mine clearance include houses and farmsteads in the process of reconstruction according to the plan of Ministry of R&D; schools and other objects that are important for the society; infrastructure (long distance power line, roads, railways, bridges, plumbing, telecommunications etc.); economic objects; fields, plowed fields, gardens and orchards; and forests, pastures, maquis, etc.[26] Finances for mine clearance are ensured by the State Budget and other sources.[27] Other sources are defined as “international financial investments in humanitarian mine clearance.”[28]

In February 1998, the national law was changed to allow for more international participation in mine clearance operations. Several private agencies – along with MUNGOS -- are currently undertaking mine clearance in Croatia; the share of the latter has been quite small. Some foreign agencies are also engaged in humanitarian and reconstruction projects.

Between 1995-1998, some 50,000 mines were removed. The Army cleared 40,800 mines (81,6%) and the other approximately 10,000 mines were cleared by MUNGOS and other agencies. According to CROMAC, areas cleared include agricultural areas (5%); roads, not including surrounding areas (50%); infrastructure such as railroads, airports and bridges (50%); and inhabited areas (50%).[29]:

Mine clearance by the Croatian Army, 1995-1997

1995: 13,326,200 square meters were cleared, removing 7,383 APMs, 6,444 ATMs and 3 584 UXO;

1996: 10,224,160 square meters were cleared, removing 5,083 APMs, 3,722 ATMs and 1 734 UXO;

1997: 10,959,742 square meters were cleared, removing 5,357 APMs, 2,982 ATMs and 680 UXOs.

Total: 34,510,102 square meters were cleared, removing 17,823 APMs, 13,398 ATMs and 5,998 UXOs.[30]

In 1997 the area of Podunavlje and eastern Slavonija were totally cleared of mines, that includes settlements: Antunovac, Bilje, Bogdanovici, Ernestinovo, Kopcevo, Apsevci, Donje Novo Selo, Lipovac, Podgradje, Kusonje and Brusnik. This was important for the Peaceful Reintegration program. In 1998, 15.6 million square meters were cleared (a breakdown by county is available).[31]

The quality control for cleared area has not been completed, which had been the responsibility of MUP and carried out by police and the Croatian Army. With the amended law of 1998, responsibility for quality assurance shifted to CROMAC. Two deminers were employed by CROMAC for that end and six more were planned to be hired and trained by the UN Quality Assurance Officer. Of 39 square kilometers cleared, only one square kilometer had been quality assured.[32] About 963,525 square meters of the ground were explored by HV during 1998, but no mines were found. Because of a tragic incident on 18 May 1998 when one military person was killed and three were seriously injured HV called off all the mine clearance activities. The HV is waiting for the improvement of salaries and safety measures for its personnel that are taking care of such a dangerous work.

Mine Awareness

From the early 1990s, UNICEF has been involved in mine awareness efforts in Croatia. UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education in the distribution of mine awareness kits for 800 primary schools. The program was limited by the lack of training for the teachers in best use of the materials. It continues its activities through mine awareness campaigns with television and radio spots, posters, leaflets and actions in mine-affected communities.[33]

In 1996, the ICRC began mine awareness programs through the Croatian Red Cross. It organized mine awareness training for future trainers from the local Red Cross. The ICRC also organized 4 seminars; 2 in Biograd, and one in Topusko and in Vukovar. It has trained 110 mine awareness instructors, of whom about 75 are still working.

Number of participants in Mine Awareness Education, 1 January 1996 - 31 December 1998

Men 14,404

Women 14,413

Children 75,977

TOTAL 104,736

Source: Nela Sefic, ICRC, INFO-CODI Assistant

Currently, ICRC mine action programs are interactive and multimedia and are adjusted according to particular area and its own mine problems. They include theater performances, art exhibitions, teaching toys for children, video presentations, and feedback from the audience -- the most important element of the programs.[34]

The UN Mine Action Center in Croatia offered to provide MA training to the displaced population of Croatia follow a request by the Government Office for Displaced Persons and Refugees (ODPR) in late 1996. It was decided to first conduct a pilot program for two months to see how the “direct training” method. Research for planning purposes was conducted at the ODPR Regional Offices and four instructors, who were all members of the Association of War Invalids (HVIDRA) and actually survivors themselves, were trained by UNMAC with the assistance of ICRC and the Croatian Red Cross from January to March 1997. The results of the pilot program were then analyzed and UNMAC recommended that the best method for disseminating the MA message to the displaced population would be through a combination of media and direct training methods. A proposal for mine awareness education for displaced persons and returnees in Croatia has prepared at an estimated cost of US$550,000.

One NGO, Strata Research, has worked on a mine awareness project combined with specific civic education program focusing on post-war reconciliation. Workshops consisted of two parts: a classical mine awareness training was followed by a broader discussion on reconciliation, on problems concerning various aspects of identity building (ethnic, professional, gender), and on the role of the NGOs in coping with the mine problem in the region.. Between 16 April and 14 June 1998, 16 workshops were held. Additionally, there were 4 radio shows featuring workshop coordinators, instructors and participants.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

Between 1990-1995, 400 civilians were killed and 1,400 were injured in landmine incidents. According to incomplete data from 1995 to 1997, 560 people were injured or killed in 359 incidents. During 1998, 32 persons were killed, 16 seriously injured, 29 slightly injured.[35] Data on mine victims remains unreliable; in official statement by CROMAC it was said that there were 15 incidents with 12 killed from January to June 1998; but the STRATA RESEARCH analytical service notified 15 mine incidents with 19 killed in the same period. Elderly persons, agricultural population and workers in public companies (with objects placed on the mine -affected areas) seem to be the most exposed ones.

According to information given by ICRC there are no prosthesis workshops in Croatia. There are no national disability laws in Croatia. Mine victims do not receive any special treatment compared to other disabled. They get first aid and medical assistance in general according to their health insurance.


[1]Ozren Zunec, The Mine Planet, (Zagreb: Strata, 1997), p. 171. The Dayton Agreement (22 November 1995) is considered as the end of the war in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina

[2]Interview with Hrvoje Babic and Milan Bajic, members of the CROMAC Council

[3]U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, (Washington: Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, September 1998), p. 81.

[4]H.E. Dr. Ivo Sanader, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia, Address: “A Global Ban on Landmines,” Ottawa, Canada, 4 December 1997.



[7]Interview with Dubravko Taras, official in the Ministry of Defense.

[8]Interview with Petar Mrkalj, Assistant Director, Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.

[9]Novi List, 6 February 1999.

[10]Ozren Zunec, The Mine Planet, p. 21.

[11]The most recent statement by CROMAC.

[12]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, p. 81.

[13]Roberts & Williams, 1995.

[14]Vjesnik, 24 August 1996.

[15]Ambassador Ivan Simonovic, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, “Statement to the Fifty-third Session of the General Assembly: Agenda item 42: Assistance in Mine Clearance,” United Nations, New York, 17 November 1998.

[16]Hidden Killers, p. 83.

[17]Roberts & Williams, 1996.

[18]Vjesnik, 14 April 1996.

[19]United Nations, Assistance in mine clearance: Report of the Secretary-General, (New York: United Nations), A/53/496, 14 October 1998, p. 10.

[20]Gorseta, Novi List, 21 December 1998.

[21]Statement of Ambassador Simonovic, United Nations, 17 November 1998.

[22]Hidden Killers, p. 86.

[23]“Croatia Attracts Little Foreign Aid but for Mines,” Reuters, 5 December 1998.

[24]Mine Clearance Law, Article 2.

[25]Mine Clearance Law, Article 3 & 4.


[27]Mine Clearance Law, Article 4.

[28]Mine Clearance Law, Article 5.

[29]Ivanusic, CROMAC official.

[30]Dubravko Taras, Ministry of Defense.

[31]Provided by Vanja Sikirica, CROMAC.

[32]Jutarnji list, 1 October 1998.

[33]UNICEF, Antipersonnel landmines: Policies, Strategies and Programs, (New York: United Nations, undated) in Hidden Killers, p. 85.


[35]Gorseta, Novi list, 21 December 1998.