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Country Reports
ETHIOPIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Prior to 1993, Ethiopia also included what is today the independent nation of Eritrea. The tremendous turmoil in Ethiopia and the region over the past few decades has left a considerable landmine problem. Over the past year, Ethiopia has been involved with Eritrea in a dispute over the border between the two countries, which was never formally delineated after Eritrean independence in 1993. Ethiopia has accused Eritrea of laying mines during the conflict.

Mine Ban Policy

Ethiopia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and in a statement to the signing conference, the government reaffirmed its commitment to the treaty, and as a mine-affected nation, urged the international community to adhere to the articles of the treaty dealing with assistance in mine clearance and victim assistance.[1] Ethiopia has yet to ratify the ban treaty but the Foreign Ministry recently stated that “Ethiopia has already triggered the necessary procedural mechanisms leading to the ratification of the Convention.”[2]

Ethiopia participated in the meetings of the Ottawa Process, including the October 1996 meeting which launched the Process. It endorsed the Brussels Declaration and was a full participant to the Oslo treaty negotiations where it spoke out against U.S. proposals which, if accepted, would have seriously weakened the ban treaty.

At the time of the Oslo meetings, the International Committee of the Red Cross organized a conference in Addis Ababa with government, media and aid organizations, during which the government confirmed its commitment to the Ottawa process.[3] Ethiopia has also supported resolutions put forward by the Organization of African Unity (OAU)—which is headquartered in Addis Ababa—on landmines, along with the “Plan of Action” from the May 1997 OAU meeting on landmines in Kempton Park, South Africa. It has supported all relevant 1996, 1997 and 1998 UN General Assembly resolutions supporting the ban on antipersonnel mines.

Ethiopia is a member of the Conference on Disarmament but has not been a noted supporter or opponent of efforts to negotiate a partial ban on landmines in this forum.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Ethiopia does not produce landmines and claims to not have imported mines since the end of the Menguistu regime in 1991.[4] Ethiopia is not known to have ever exported antipersonnel mines. The list below of mines found in Ethiopia gives an indication of the sources of supply of AP mines to the government in the past. The current size and composition of the government’s mine stockpile is unknown.


Over the last thirty years, landmines have been used in Ethiopia during various armed conflicts both internally and with neighboring countries. Landmine problems stem from several conflicts. One was the long struggle for independence by Eritrea and Tigre, which left contamination in the northern region of Ethiopia.[5] After the unsuccessful incursion of Somali forces to take the disputed Ogaden region in 1977 and 1978, the Menguistu regime constructed a mine barrier along the border between the two countries.[6] The fighting in the late 1980's to unseat the Menguistu regime, which ended in 1991, also caused mine contamination. Another area of concern stems from the mining of the southern Sudanese border.[7]

The regions most affected by these various conflicts include Tigray, Afar, Amhara, Somali, Gamela, Oromya and Beni-Shangul.[8] The areas known to be contaminated consist of "Gondar and Dessie, the northern Shewar region, along the road between Djibouti and Awash, the Ogaden region, along the Somalia border and in the Western area around Welega and West Arosa.”[9] The estimated number of mines varies greatly from 500,000 mines, of which 400,000 are thought to be antipersonnel mines, to 1.5 million mines, to as many as four million mines.[10] More than twenty types of mines have been identified from seven countries.[11]

Antipersonnel mines in Ethiopia include:

  • MON-50, MON-100, MON-200, OZM-3, OZM-4, OZM-72, PMD-6M, PMD-57, PMN, PMN-2, POMZ-2, Bangalore mines (Former Soviet Union); the M3 (USA); PPM-2 (Former East Germany).[12]

Antitank mines in Ethiopia include:

  • TM-57, TM-62M, TMK-2 (Former Soviet Union); M7A2, M15 (USA) and PM-60 (Former East Germany).[13]

There were also mines of German, Italian, Cuban, Czechoslovakian origin which could not be identified by the U.S. Department of State in its 1993 Hidden Killers report.[14]

Since the overthrow of Menguistu in 1991, Ethiopia has continued to experience internal conflicts and disputes with neighboring countries. Tensions have been felt in the National Regional States of Oramia and Somali.[15] Ethiopian forces are also reported to have entered Somalia to go after Islamic bases that have supposedly carried out attacks inside Ethiopia.[16]

The most publicized border conflict has been with Eritrea. The conflict over the delineation of the border, which was never officially marked after Eritrean independence in 1993, has centered on the Badme region and been equated to the trench warfare of World War One.[17] While the Ethiopian government and press accuse Eritrea of using mines during the conflict, as many as 50,000 in the Badme region alone, the government maintains that in this border conflict “Ethiopian defense forces have never used anti-personnel landmines.”[18] There is no evidence to the contrary.

Mine Clearance

The threat of mines in Ethiopia is considered a problem though not an emergency situation.[19] The government says that demining is one of its priorities to further sustainable peace and development and the national capacity has developed considerably since 1993 when it was deemed "extremely limited."[20] Currently the Ethiopian Ministry of Defense-operated Ethiopian Demining Project (EDP), with U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining assistance, is the only capacity in country. The main headquarters in Addis Ababa consists of management, a public awareness team and an historical research team. The Project has three headquarters in the east, south and west regions of the country each with a demining company of one hundred deminers.[21]

Funding to the EDP from the U.S. government has totaled U.S. $8.2 million since 1993, with another $1.3 million projected for 1999.[22] The Handicap International project in the refugee camps has totaled U.S. $338,510, of which U.S. $270,281 was provided by the EU, with another U.S. $83,842 requested for the current year.

As of June 1998, the EDP had cleared 17,000 sq. km of land.[23] The number of mines cleared by the end of 1997 was reportedly 74,850.[24] Injuries to deminers have been limited with sixteen injuries and four deaths over a two and one-half year period.[25] Prioritization for clearance is determined by the EDP headquarters in Addis from requests by various ministries and local authorities.[26] While the Project seems reactive in its choice of areas to clear and there are questions about the prioritization mechanisms, the results appear to be entirely humanitarian in their effect.[27]

The Ethiopian program has yet to undertake a nation-wide survey to determine the full range and extent of mine contamination and victim assistance needs. Ethiopia has been identified by the UN Mine Action Service as needing a such a survey to support the existing program.[28] The German NGO, Santa Barbara, reached an agreement with the Ethiopian government to conduct a level 1 survey in 1998, however due to a lack of funding, the survey was postponed.[29] One hundred mine sites have already been identified by the EDP with additional sites being added regularly.[30] None are marked, as signs previously placed around mined areas were taken by local inhabitants.[31]

Mine Awareness

Mine awareness is carried out by the EDP and NGOs although there has been little coordination to date. The EDP program uses newspapers, radio, TV and fliers to convey messages about the danger of mines.[32] The UN assessment mission found problems in the military style of training used by the EDP and its lack of involvement with the community. In 1996, the ICRC expanded its affiliation with Circus of Ethiopia, a local NGO made up of street children to include messages about identification and the dangers of mines.[33]

Since September 1997, Handicap International has operated a mine awareness program in four Somali refugee camps located in Ethiopia.[34] As of 1998, more than 58,000 refugees had received training to prevent accidents in and around the camps and during and after repatriation. The project is staffed by one expatriate and people from the four camps.[35]

Landmine Casualties

A general estimate of amputees in Ethiopia is 21,000-23,000 of which twenty percent, 4,200-4,600, are thought to be mine victims.[36] A 1994 estimate put the number of accidents at five to ten per week.[37] However, more recent investigations say the number of mine accidents in Ethiopia is relatively low.[38] The lack of a comprehensive level 1 survey or of an established system for reporting accidents makes a more exact estimate of casualties impossible. In addition to Ethiopian casualties, a “sizable number” mine victims from Somaliland have been transported over the border to the refugee camps in Ethiopia.[39] Estimated costs for treating mine victims in Ethiopia is U.S. $60,000.[40]

Landmine Survivor Assistance

Ethiopia has three functioning physical rehabilitation centers; the Prosthetics-Orthotics Center in Addis Ababa indigenously established in 1961, the Mekele center in the Tigray region, which was established by the ICRC in 1992, and the Harar center in the Hararegay region established by ICRC in 1982.[41] A fourth center, Debre Zeit in the Wollo region is no longer functional. The Prosthetics-Orthotics center in Addis is the main center, and one of the premier centers in Africa with eighty-two staff members of which fifty-three are technicians.[42]

In addition to the 380 prosthetics produced by the center in 1998, which account for almost sixty-five percent of all production in Ethiopia, the Addis Center produces orthotic devices, wheel chairs and crutches, as well as components that supply other centers across Africa.[43] It also provides technical consulting services and has trained technicians from other centers across the world including technicians from mine-affected nations like Angola, Lebanon, Chad and Somalia.[44] Twenty-five technicians received training at the Addis center in 1998. The center is an autonomous welfare organization independently operated under the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The center is supported by its own income generation and support from organizations and individuals.

The Mekele center is administered by the Tigraye Disabled Fighters Association, a local NGO. The center produced 116 prosthetics in 1998.[45] The Harar center is administered by the regional branch of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. The center produced ninety-five prosthetics in 1998.[46] ICRC scaled down its involvement at the Mekele center in 1994.[47] ICRC provided assistance to the Addis, Harar and now defunct Debre Zeit centers through 1995 with funds from its Special Fund for the Disabled through 1996.[48]


[1]His Excellency, Dr. Fecadu Gadamu, Ambassador to Canada, Statement to Signing Ceremony, Ottawa, 3 December 1997, p. 2.

[2]Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax to Ethiopian Consulate in The Hague, 17 March 1999, p. 2.

[3]ICRC, “Ethiopia: Media poised to raise awareness about landmines,” ICRC News, no. 34, 5 September 1997, see www.icrc.org.

[4]Gadamu, p. 3.

[5]“Ethiopia- Joint assessment mission report,” UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 2.

[6]U.S. Department of State, Political-Military Affairs Bureau, Office of International Security Operations, Pub. No. 10098, July 1993, p. 89; U.S. Department of State, “Background Notes: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia,” March 1998, Office of East African Affairs, Bureau of African Affairs, www.state.gov

[7]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 2.

[8]Ibid. Map- “The Three Most Mine Affected Areas in Ethiopia.”

[9]Ibid, p. 2.

[10]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. A-1.; UN Landmine Database. “Ethiopia.” www.un.org/Depts/Landmines; Gadamu, December 1997, p. 2; UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 2.

[11]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, 1993, p. 88.

[12]Ibid. The U.S. Department of State incorrectly listed the M3 AP mine as an AT mine.



[15]ICRC, “Ethiopia,” Annual Report 1997.

[16]BBC World, “Ethiopians pull Out of Somalia,” 4 January 1999, www.bbc.co.uk.

[17]“Ethiopia and Eritrea- Trench warfare,” Economist, 13 March 1999, p. 56.

[18]Ethiopian Government Spokesperson, “Total Victory for Operation Sunset,” Ethiopian News Service, Addis Ababa. www.telecom.net.et/~ena, 28 February 1999; Professor Addis Birhan, “Mind Eritrea's Mine Fields,” Walta Information Service, Addis Ababa. www.telecom.net.et/~walta, 6 March 1999; Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 17 March 1999, p. 2.

[19]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 2.

[20]Gadamu, p. 2; U.S. Department of State, 1993, p. 88.

[21]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 2.

[22]U.S. State Department, “Demining Program Financing History,” 11 January 1999.

[23]UNMAS, p. 3.

[24]Gadamu, p. 2.

[25]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 4.

[26]Ibid, p. 3

[27]Ibid., Executive Summary and p. 3.

[28]“UNMAS Discussion Paper on the Application of Survey and the Impact of the Ottawa Treaty,” UNMAS, New York, Version 1.2/98, Annex C.

[29]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 3.

[30] Ibid, p. 2.

[31]Ibid, p. 4.

[32]Ibid. p. 3.

[33]ICRC, “Ethiopia,” ICRC Annual Report 1994, 30 May 1995, www.icrc.org

[34]Handicap International, MAG, and Norwegian People's Aid, “Ethiopia,” Portfolio of Mine-related Projects, 1998.


[36]Yohannes Berhanu, Manager, Prosthetics-Orthotics Center- Addis Ababa, Fax to author, 19 March 1999, p. 2.

[37]U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis. (Washington DC: U.S. Department of State, 1994), p.16.

[38]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 4.


[40]UNMAS, 22 June 1998, p. 6.

[41]Berhanu, 19 March 1999, p. 1.

[42]Ibid, p. 1-2.


[44]Berhanu, p. 2; ICRC, “Ethiopia,” Annual Report 1994, 30 May 1995; ICRC, “Ethiopia,” Annual Report 1995, 31 May 1996.

[45]Berhanu, p. 1.


[47]ICRC, “Ethiopia,” Annual Report 1994, 30 May 1995.

[48]Ibid.; ICRC, "Ethiopia," Annual Report 1995, 31 May 1996; ICRC, “Ethiopia,” Annual Report 1996, 1 June 1997.