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Country Reports
UGANDA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Uganda’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Honorable Martin Aliker, signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and made a statement to the signing ceremony that:

“Those who have already been maimed and disabled are closely watching to see whether their plight has moved us enough to append our signatures to this very important convention. Uganda has signed the treaty and pending the finalization of our constitutional process shall fully abide by it.”[1] Uganda ratified the ban treaty on 5 November 1998. The instrument of ratification was handed over to the UNICEF Country Representative in Uganda for onward transmission to the U.N. Secretary-General and deposited on 25 February 1999. Uganda has not yet enacted domestic implementing legislation.

Uganda played an active role during the Ottawa Process. It endorsed the Brussels Declaration, was a full participant to the Oslo treaty negotiations, supported statements and resolutions taken on landmines by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and and voted in favor of pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions on landmines in 1996, 1997, and 1998.

The Government has stated that it has never laid mines. It also states that the locations of the mines laid by rebel groups are not marked and the government does not have accurate information on them. Uganda has made a statement that the Uganda Armed Forces will not engage in the use, production, storage or transfer of APMs; a military directive was issued to that effect.[2]

Ugandan military forces have been supporting opposition forces fighting against the government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). (See country report on DRC). The Namibian Defense Ministry has accused Uganda of laying mines in the conflict. When two Namibian soldiers (fighting in support of Kabila) were killed by a landmine in November 1998, the Defense Ministry said that it and its allies “hold Rwanda and Uganda responsible for using antipersonnel landmines, weapons which the international community has banned.”[3] However, there is no conclusive evidence that Ugandan forces have used AP mines.

Uganda is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, but has not ratified the amended Protocol II on landmines. Following the Fourth International NGO Conference on Landmines in Maputo in February 1997, a number of Ugandan NGOs, including the Ugandan Association of Medical Workers for Health and Environment and IPPNW-Uganda, formed the Uganda Campaign to Ban Landmines (UCBL). The campaign held a number of public seminars on the issue and informed the Ugandan media. In September 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO), with the support of the Ugandan Campaign, held an inter-regional workshop in Kampala on public health and antipersonnel mines.

Production and Transfer

Uganda produced AP mines until at least 1995. These mines were produced by the State-run National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) at Nakasongora. The factory was constructed between 1987 and 1992 with assistance from China's China Wabao Engineering Corporation.[4] According to Ugandan officials the plant produced two antipersonnel mines, a PMD-6 and a plastic mine.[5] The factory had a capacity of to produce 50,000 mines per year, and by one account had produced a total of 10,000 by 1997.[6] But, according to NEC's acting Managing Director, Major Fred Mwesigyi, the Nakasongola factory stopped producing AP mines in 1995 because of the worldwide campaign against mines. Mwesigyi also said that "all the mines and grenades we produced have since been kept in stores and have not been sold anywhere." He said that the factory now produces dry cell batteries instead of mines and grenades[7] Uganda states that it has never exported antipersonnel mines.[8] There is no information about importation of AP mines by Uganda.


At the treaty signing conference in Ottawa in December 1997, Uganda’s Foreign Minister said, "We hold a small stockpile of antipersonnel mines which we intend to destroy as soon as possible.”[9] The stockpile apparently numbers approximately 50,000.[10] According to a Foreign Ministry official, Uganda has already destroyed some mines—those that it produced itself. But, he indicated that destruction of foreign mines is awaiting acquisition of the technology to do so. He added that Uganda is in the early consultation process with Norway and Austria over acquiring destruction technology and expertise.[11]

Three rebel groups are known to have stockpiles of AP mines, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and the West Nile Bank. According to the Ugandan government there is not much information on the quantities and types of these mines but the rebels are believed to be supplied from outside Uganda, mainly from Sudan.[12]


Uganda obtained independence from Britain in 1962 and from the late 1960s until the mid-1980s the country was marked by conflict and numerous human rights abuses, especially under Idi Amin (1971-78) and Milton Obote's second term (1980-85). Obote was again overthrown by his army in 1985 who formed a military government which soon ran into difficulties in its efforts to defeat Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA). After failed negotiations, the government was overthrown by Museveni who was sworn in as President of Uganda in January 1986. He has been president ever since.

In 1987, remnants of Obote's army formed a rebel group, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) which has enjoyed support from the Sudanese government. It has been fighting the Ugandan government in the northern part of the country mainly in the districts of Gulu and Kitgum. Another group, the West Nile Bank, also supported by Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been fighting the Uganda government in the West Nile Region. From 1997, a third rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), supported by the previous government of Mobutu and since 1998 by the current government of Kabila in the DRC, and Sudan, has been fighting the Uganda government in the western part of the country in the Mount Rwenzori area. Since 1990 these rebel groups have used antipersonnel mines.

Only a small number of mines appear to have been in used in the pre-1990s conflicts in Uganda resulting in a few mine victims. Arua hospital reports that they get occasional mine victims from the West Nile region who are injured by the mines left behind by fleeing Amin soldiers in 1979.[13] There were only a few incidents or injuries in these former conflict zones in central Uganda indicating that not many mines were used in this conflict.

The 1990s have seen the wider use of landmines. The ADF in western Uganda and the LRA in northern and north-western Uganda have used antipersonnel landmines. Two children were injured by an AP mine in Kitgum district during the first week of January 1999 for example. AP mines laid by the LRA have also been reported in Kitgum and Gulu, and by the ADF in Kasese. In Kitgum the rebels plant mines in abandoned homes, waiting for the occupants to return to check their property.[14] The rebels also plant mines along their tracks, to stop hot pursuit and keep people away from their route ways. In 1998, a teacher tried to follow the path that rebels had used to see where they had gone and was injured by an AP mine.[15]

At the UPDF garrison in Gulu in northern Uganda, Human Rights Watch saw and photographed large quantities of antipersonnel and antitank mines taken from the LRA. They were sorted by type and labeled by date and place of capture. Both the antipersonnel and antitank mines matched the types of many of those seen by Human Rights Watch in Yei and Kaya in Sudan and those seen in Eritrea.[16] During the period 1991-1998, there were a total of 328 landmine casualties.[17] The number of mine injuries is on the decline from 118 in 1996 to twenty-four in the whole of 1998. The most affected districts are Gulu and Kitgum.[18]

In a recent article in the Ugandan newspaper, The Monitor, UPDF Brigadier Katumba Wamala denied that the army had planted landmines along the Uganda-Sudan border.[19] "Do we plant landmines so that our soldiers are maimed? Do you want to talk to my landmines engineer who was hit by a mine when I sent him to detect mines at Agoro area? The UPDF has no landmine fields at the border," Katumba said while responding to a letter, "Save us from landmines."[20] The letter alleged that five civilians have so far been hit by the 5,000 landmines planted by the UPDF at Lomwaka Hills in Agoro.[21] Katumba however, acknowledged that there are more landmines around Agoro hills than anywhere else in Gulu or Kitgum and he said that demining the two districts is difficult because the said mines were planted by the LRA rebels and are scattered.[22]

Mine Clearance

There are no humanitarian mine clearing and training operations. The UPDF carries out the demining of mined roads in affected areas. In addition to manual clearance, the UPDF uses mine sweeper vehicles popularly known as 'Mambas.' More systematic clearance by the UPDF has resulted in a decline in mine incidents.[23] A special unit of the mechnised division of the UPDF is being trained in mine clearance techniques.[24]

There are no national priorities for demining. The cost of mine clearance is not known and there are no available records of cleared areas. The main obstacle to a more effective mine clearance program is that the mines used by the rebels are scattered. The lack of funds is also a constraint for demining such areas. However, recently some of the areas bordering the Sudan, which were mined by rebels, have been sealed off with barbed wire to exclude civilians from the area and that the civilians have been made aware of this.[25]

Mine Awareness

There has been some mine awareness activities, mainly through the media, in seminars and workshops and through drama and posters. There are a number of agencies working on mine awareness issues in Uganda including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); the AMHEC (IPPNW-Uganda) and the Ministry of Health. But hardly any people have been trained as mine awareness educators.

Landmine Casualties

The combined number of victims from Kitgum and Gulu Districts per month for the year 1996, 1997 and 1998 were 9.8 and 4.9 respectively, a declining trend.[26] Statistics from the orthopedic center indicates also that the AP mine problem is in north and north-western Uganda, especially in Gulu and Kitgum districts.

Mine Injuries in Uganda, 1991-1998[27]

1991 3

1992 2

1993 16

1994 18

1995 46

1996 118

1997 101

1998 24

From the available results so far from four hospitals, the people mostly injured or killed by AP mines are soldiers followed by peasant farmers. Males between the age of twenty and forty are the most affected and the majority of victims were injured while traveling.

Occupation of AP Mine Victims[28]

Occupation Number (Percentage)

Soldiers 54 (67.5%)

Peasant Farmers 11 (13.8%)

Students 8 (10%)

Unknown 6 (7.5%)

Businessman 1 (1.2%)

TOTAL 80 (100%)

Activity at time of Injury[29]

Activity Number (Percentage)

Traveling by foot 28 (53.8%)

Traveling by bicycle 7 (26.9%)

Traveling by vehicle 14 (13.5%)

Farming 1 (1.9)

Grazing livestock 2 (3.9%)

TOTAL 52 (100%)

Landmine Survivor Assistance

In Gulu or Kitgum districts once the patients get to the hospitals they are quickly attended to and usually receive definitive surgical treatment, i.e. amputation would be done within about three hours of arrival, a reasonable time. The Ministry of Health regards landmines as a trauma injury. With the assistance of WHO and CIDA Canada an Injury & Trauma Control Center has been set up which is responsible for documenting traumatic injuries throughout the country. This program is in its infancy and there are no specific programs for psychological and social support services for landmine victims.[30]

There are seven orthopedic workshops in Uganda, four are regional orthopedic workshops, one is a central workshop, and there are two missionary orthopedic workshops run by the Church of Uganda. Most mine victims receive physical rehabilitation at Gulu hospital. While the workshops are well equipped there is a shortage of trained staff. For example there are only eight orthopedic technologists and eleven orthopedic technicians in the whole country and only one social worker attached to the Gulu workshop.[31]

Although the orthopedic workshops are regionally distributed and well equipped, prosthetics and orthotics are not provided free of charge to victims and their costs are prohibitive to most of the population. Even where these are subsidized by government, such as at the Mulago Central workshop in Kampala, the prices are still high and this center is far from affected areas. In Gulu victims cannot afford to pay for wheelchairs.

While the overall number of amputees fitted with prosthesis is low (27.9 percent), the percentage of mine victims fitted with prosthesis is relatively high (55.6 percent). A number of agencies have been donating funds for prosthesis for survivors in Gulu district, including AVSI, the Italian and Austrian governments, the World Relief Fund (WRF) and the Dutch embassy.


[1]Honorable Martin Aliker, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Statement to Signing Ceremony, 3 December 1997.

[2]Interview with Issac Sebulime, Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, Kampala, 29 January 1999.

[3]Namibian Ministry of Defense Media Release, “NDF members wounded in the DRC,” 26 November 1998.

[4]New Vision, (Kampala), 1997.

[5]Interview with Major S Muruli, Uganda People's Defence Force, Kempton Park, South Africa, 20 May 1997.

[6]New Vision, (Kampala), 1997.


[8]Military official, UPDF, Kampala, 25 February 1999.

[9]Honorable Martin Aliker, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Statement to Signing Ceremony, 3 December 1997.

[10]Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Mine Action Data Base.

[11]Isaac Sebulime, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kampala, 29 January 1999.

[12]Military official, UPDF, Kampala, 25 February 1999.

[13]Interview with Mr. Mwambu, Surgeon at Arua Hospital, May 1998.

[14]Acting General of Health Services, Kitgum, December 1998.


[16]Human Rights Watch, Sudan: Global Trade, Local Impact. Arms Transfers to all sides in the Civil War in Sudan, vol.10, no.4(A), August 1998, p.43.

[17]Hospital records (1991-1998)


[19]John Muto Ono P'Lajur, "UPDF Didn't Plant Mines - Katumba," The Monitor, (Kampala), 23 March 1999.




[23]Military official, UPDF, Kampala, 25 February 1999.

[24]Interview with Luc Deneys, ICRC delegate, Kampala,25 February 1999.

[25]Interviews with inhabitants of the Agoro border area who asked to be unnamed, Agoro, Uganda, 20 January 1999.

[26]The following section is a brief summary, detailed information is on file with the Mine Monitor and with the Ugandan Campaign to Ban Landmines.

[27]AVSI, Hospital Records (1991-1998)

[28]Hospital records (1991-1998)

[29]Hospital records (1991-1998)