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Country Reports
TAJIKISTAN, Landmine Monitor Report 1999



Five years of civil war in Tajikistan were formally brought to a close on 27 June 1997, when a peace accord was signed between the government and the opposition, the United Tajik Opposition (UTO).The implementation of the peace accord, however, has to date been plagued with difficulties and delays, and political instability and an overall absence of law and order remain. Since the end of June 1997, the country has witnessed fresh waves of fighting between rival government groups, high levels of political and criminal violence, and renewed hostage-takings of Tajik citizens and international personnel by armed factions. In mid-January 1998, following months of laborious negotiations, the UTO withdrew temporarily from the peace process, claiming that the government was reneging on many of its pledges. In March 1998, in clear violation of the peace accord, hostilities between armed groups allegedly loyal to the UTO and government troops erupted into full-fledged fighting near Dushanbe, the capital.[1] Landmines were used throughout the fighting, and unconfirmed media reports suggest that landmines may have been used as recently as November 1998, when conflict again erupted in the north.

Mine Ban Policy

Tajikistan has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty. It attended the early treaty preparatory meetings, but did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration and did not participate in the Oslo negotiations. It attended the regional conference on landmines in Turkmenistan in June 1997, but made no formal statement on mine ban policy. Tajikistan voted in favor of the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution 51/45S urging states to vigorously pursue an international agreement banning antipersonnel landmines, but was one of eighteen countries which abstained from the 1997 UNGA Resolution 52/38A supporting the December treaty signing. It was absent from the vote on the pro-treaty 1998 UNGA resolution. Tajikistan is not a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

It does not appear that Tajikistan manufactures its own mines, but rather has utilized the stockpiles which the Soviet Union stored in the republic. It is not known if Soviet stocks have been supplemented with new imports. Tajikistan is not known to have exported APMs, but it has no restrictions on landmine production or export in place. Information on the size and composition of Tajikistan’s current stockpile of antipersonnel is not available. Most of the mines laid by the government were of Soviet origin (see below). The UTO also has a stockpile of mines, apparently including Soviet, Italian and Pakistani mines. It is unknown if the UTO received its supply of mines from outside sources or if they were stolen from Tajikistan’s stockpiles.

Both the government and the UTO opposition have been responsible for laying mines. According to the UN military observer team (UNMOT) in Tajikistan, the Tajik government used primarily Soviet PMN, PMN-2, PMD-6 and OZM antipersonnel mines. The UTO used a mix of antipersonnel, antitank (Italian TC-6, Pakistan P2Mk2 and Soviet TMN series), and booby-trapped antitank mines.[2] Several CIS countries sent peacekeeping forces to Tajikistan, including Russia’s Border Forces. The RBF planted antipersonnel mines along the Tajik/Afghan border.[3]

As recently as November 1998, rebel forces were concentrated in the Aini village, and news sources stated that the road may have been mined in order to prevent government forces from using it.[4]

Landmine Problem

Tajikistan has a serious problem with antipersonnel landmines. The U.S. State Department has estimated that there are approximately 100,000 landmines in Tajikistan.[5] The UN Mine Action Service has estimated the total at 200,000.[6] The mined areas are not generally well marked. The major areas affected by landmines are the central Tavildara region, the Garm Valley, Khalaikhum, and the border with Afghanistan. UNMOT observers discovered two minefields near the Tajik/Afghan border which it believed were laid by the Tajik army in 1994.[7] Major roads and highways were mined. The Dushanbe-Khujand highway was one major road which was alleged to be mined. However, five days after the failed November 1998 rebellion, this highway was opened to civilian travel and there have been no reports of landmine accidents. The Dushanbe-Aini highway was another strategic area that was possibly mined.

The United Nations carried out assessment missions in Tajikistan in 1996 and 1997. The 1996 assessment mission concluded that a Mine Action Plan needed to be developed and a Mine Action Centre needed to be set up. The 1997 mission concluded that the landmine problem in Tajikistan was not as severe as originally thought, that mines had a limited humanitarian and developmental impact, and did not affect returning refugees.[8] The UN recommended moving ahead with the Mine Action Plan and Mine Action Center, but on a reduced scale.

Mine Action

There are no humanitarian mine clearance programs underway in Tajikistan. The 1996 UN assessment mission estimated that it would cost $736,425 to demine areas where civilians and UN and aid workers were at risk.[9] The Tajik government has expressed support for mine awareness campaigns, but has limited funds. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has implemented mine awareness programs. The ICRC set up a data collection system to try to gather more detailed information about the whereabouts of landmines, and printed leaflets in Russian and Tajik which alerted people returning to their homes about the possible presence of landmines.[10] The ICRC delivered medical supplies for the treatment of landmine and other war-related casualties. It is unknown how capable the Tajik hospitals are of caring for mine victims. In 1997, the ICRC flew fourteen amputees to Azerbaijan for the fitting of artificial limbs.[11]

Civilians and military personnel have been killed an injured by landmines. The Deputy Premier of Tajikistan, Munnavar Nazriyev, was killed by a landmine in 1994, on the day a ceasefire was to come into effect.[12] The remote geography and poor medical facilities means that most mine casualties go unreported. The number of civilian casualties is uncertain.


[1] Human Rights Watch, Leninabad: Crackdown in the North, Vol. 10, No. 2(D), April 1998, p. 4.

[2]Country Report: Tajikistan, United Nations. At: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/tajikist.htm.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Galina Gridneva and Valery Zhukov, “Tajik Troops Taking Measures Against Rebels,” ITAR-TASS World Service, 5 November 1998. Other news sources stated that the Dushanbe-Aini road had been successfully cleared of landmines: “Tajik Government Forces Recapture District Centre in North,” BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 8 November 1998.

[5] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. A2.

[6] UNMAS Working Document: Mine Action Profiles, 15 November 1998.

[7] Country Report: Tajikistan, United Nations.

[8] United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs Interoffice Memorandum, on the Concept for Mine Action in Tajikistan, 10 October 1997.

[9]United Nations, Demining Programme Report: Tajikistan. At: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/program/tajikist.htm.

[10] International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1997.

[11] Ibid.

[12]United Nations, Casualties and Incidents: Tajikistan, At: http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/casualty/tajikist.htm.