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Country Reports
DJIBOUTI, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: In 1999, the government appointed a Mine Action Taskforce to formulate an action plan that includes surveys of mine-affected zones, mine awareness, and victim assistance. The U.S. is funding mine action in Djibouti. Djibouti has not submitted its Article 7 report due by 27 August 1999. Rebel forces used antitank mines in 1999 and early 2000, resulting in 69 new mine victims. In November 1999 the French military stationed in Djibouti destroyed its stockpile of 2,444 antipersonnel landmines.

Mine Ban Policy

Djibouti signed the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 18 May 1998. Djibouti has not enacted domestic implementation legislation. It has not submitted its Article 7 transparency report, which was due by 27 August 1999. Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials told Landmine Monitor in February 2000 that they were waiting for a progress report from the Ministry of Defense.[1]

Djibouti did not participate in the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999, nor has it participated in any meetings of the intersessional meetings of the Standing Committees of Experts. Djibouti voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B supporting the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1999, as it had done on similar UNGA resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998.

In 1999, the local NGO Association de Soutien aux Victimes des Mines (ASOVIM) launched the first organized campaign against landmines in Djibouti. ASOVIM has started a letter writing campaign to government agencies and the parliament urging the swift adoption of domestic implementation legislation.

Djibouti has not ratified Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

Djibouti has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines. It appears to have received landmines from France and Italy. The possible transit of mines through Djibouti territory is a concern. Djibouti is the most important seaport on the southern coast of the Gulf of Aden and is the major port for all materials to Ethiopia, which has signed but not ratified the MBT. Neighboring Eritrea has not signed the MBT and neighboring Somaliland is not in a position to sign at this time. In 1998, Djibouti opposition groups claimed that at least one shipment of landmines was imported by Ethiopia through the port of Djibouti.[2] There have been no new allegations of landmines transferred through the ports of Djibouti in 1999 or 2000.

Djibouti has not begun stockpile destruction, or apparently even developed a plan. In 1998 French Foreign Legion technicians assisted Djibouti’s military with the destruction of 350 kilograms of landmines and unexploded ordnance.[3] Djibouti, which obtained independence from France on 27 June 1977, is home to the largest overseas French military base. On 2-4 November 1999, the French military in Djibouti destroyed their stockpile of 2,444 antipersonnel landmines at the Grand Bara, southwest of the city of Djibouti.[4]


There is no evidence that Djibouti’s army has used landmines in counterinsurgency operations since signing the MBT. Although a peace agreement was signed between the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy (FRUD) rebels and the government of Djibouti, a splinter FRUD faction, lead by former Prime Minister Ahmed Dini, maintained an armed insurrection in 1998 and 1999. The government of Djibouti and independent observers claim that FRUD forces employed antitank mines in this renewed conflict. At least ten accidents involving 69 individuals and 22 fatalities due to new landmines were recorded in 1999 and in the first two months of 2000. The latest incident occurred on 7 February 2000. All new use of mines during 1999 and 2000 appear to involve antitank mines planted on civilian access roads.

The government concluded a reconciliation agreement with the opposition FRUD on 7 February 2000 under which the two sides freed all prisoners and agreed to cease hostilities.[5] There have been no new mine incidents since then.

During 1999, Eritrea accused Djibouti of siding with Ethiopia in the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. As a result Djibouti broke diplomatic relations with Eritrea. On various occasions, Djibouti claimed that Eritrea was emboldening the northern Afar militia and that the Afar militia planted mines in the border area between Eritrea and Djibouti. Landmine Monitor cannot verify these allegations. On 13 March 2000, Djibouti and Eritrea normalized diplomatic relations.[6]

Landmine Problem

Djibouti has a small landmine problem, which is the legacy of a three-year internal war during 1991-1994. Landmines were used in this war by both the rebel forces of the FRUD and by government Army troops.[7] Djibouti military used French and Italian mines, while FRUD forces employed Italian and Russian mines.[8] There is no indication of any large-scale use of landmines against the civilian population by either party.

No systematic mine surveys have been carried out in Djibouti and no reliable data are available on the extent of mine contamination. Certain zones in the northern Afar highlands are considered to face a higher risk than other areas. [9] Representatives of ASOVIM toured suspected sites in the Afar Plateau and reported that many public facilities, such as schools, have been abandoned because of the threat of landmines.[10] In Obock town, mines have been found in palm groves, which are now left untended. Rural roads north of Tadjourah may also be mined. The southern district of Dikhil may also contain mines.

As part of the reconciliation agreement the two sides are said to have agreed to reveal all mined areas.

Mine Action

In 1999, the government appointed a Mine Action Taskforce composed of representatives from the military, Ministry of Health, the ICRC and WHO. The taskforce is formulating an action plan that includes surveys of mine-affected zones, mine awareness, and victim assistance.

Djibouti has not allocated any internal funds for mine action. However, the U.S. plans to contribute approximately $1.1 million in 2000 and 2001 to fund a mine action program in Djibouti. The U.S. approved Djibouti's request for humanitarian demining assistance on December 12, 1999. U.S. military trainers and contractors will apparently be used to establish a complete demining program including training, equipment, and facilities for demining training. A survey of requirements was conducted in 2000.[11]

The French army trained of a contingent of thirty Djibouti military deminers and in November 1998, the newly trained deminers started a limited demining exercise in the district of Obock.[12]

Landmine Casualties

A list of recorded mine incidents during 1999 follows, complied by Landmine Monitor from news accounts and interviews. All incidents were caused by antitank mines. Landmine victim statistics are not systematically compiled in Djibouti.

Date and Location
Number of Victims
7 Feb. at Mulhole Alayou Dada
2 military victims (1 killed and 1 injured)
Mar. at Day:
5 military victims (1 killed and 4 injured)
4 Apr. at Ripta
7 civilian victims (2 killed and 5 injured)
14 Apr. near Ripta
2 civilian victims (1 killed and 1 injured)
15 Apr. at Boli
2 military victims (6 killed and 6 injured)
26 Apr. at Mdeho
13 military victims (4 killed and 9 injured)
6 May at Adaylou
8 civilian victims (2 killed and 6 injured)
20 July at Near Obock
10 civilian victims (1 killed and 9 injured)
12 Sep. at Alaili Dada
6 civilian victims (3 killed and 3 injured)
24 Sep. at Adaylou
6 civilian victims (3 killed and 3 injured)
69 victims (22 killed and 47 injured)

Survivor Assistance

Djibouti’s northern plateau, the area most heavily contested during the civil war, and which contains most of the suspected minefields and mined routes, is mostly rough mountainous terrain that contains few easily accessible roads. Civilian victims face major difficulties in calling for or reaching help. Military mine victims are almost always evacuated by helicopter.

The District hospital of Obock, closest to areas with the greatest landmine threat, was completely destroyed during the 1991-1994 civil war. There are now only two hospitals in Djibouti capable of assisting victims of landmines. Both are in Djibouti City. Civilian victims are treated at the public Peltier Group Hospital. Although capable of major surgery, Peltier Hospital had gone through a number of years of deterioration. All military victims of landmines are treated at the French Military hospital of Bouffard, which has adequate, but small, surgery and intensive care facilities. Civilians are not normally treated at this hospital.

Post-operative care is not available for mine victims in Djibouti. Peltier Hospital has a small rehabilitation center for amputees and other handicapped persons. It is not equipped to provide prosthetics. No job training or psychological rehabilitation facilities exist in Djibouti.

The local office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been active in providing some assistance to mine victims. The ICRC, which has a rehabilitation facility in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, imports prosthetics for landmine amputees or sends patients to Addis Ababa to be fitted with artificial limbs. During 1999, the ICRC in Djibouti assisted twenty-four military mine victims. The majority of the soldiers were injured during the 1992-94 war, but eight were injured between 1997 and 1999. ICRC provided seventeen prostheses, five wheel chairs and two orthopedic shoes. Also in 1999, following the resurgence of mine explosions, the ICRC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health of Djibouti, started a program of assistance for civilian mine victims. Six civilians injured during 1999 have so far been treated at the government Peltier Hospital.[13]


[1] Interview with Office of Multilateral Relations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Djibouti, 23 February, 2000.
[2] “Addis Readies for War in the Air,” Indian Ocean Newsletter, ION 842, p. 8-9.
[3] Nation (Djibouti government weekly publication), 28 March 1998; French military sources.
[4] News of the destruction was broadcast on Djibouti Radio and Television. The destruction of landmines by the French Army in Djibouti was also witnessed by three delegates from France’s National Commission on Landmines. See also, “La France détruit ses dernières mines antipersonnel,” French Ministry of Defense, press file, 20 December 1999.
[5] Radio France International (RFI), various reports, Radio Television de Djibouti (RTD), various reports.
[6] Nation, 13 March 2000.
[7] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999 p. 33-34 for more details.
[8] Information on the types of mines used in Djibouti was given by Djibouti military officials on the government appointed Mine Action Taskforce.
[9] Information on mined zones was given by Djibouti military officials and members of the Mine Action Taskforce.
[10] Discussion between Landmine Monitor and Dahir Osman, President of ASOVIM, 13 March 2000.
[11] U.S. Department of State, 9 December 1999 Humanitarian Demining IWG Fact Sheet.
[12] Nation, 18 November 1998.
[13] Interview with Mustfa Barkhat, ICRC Djibouti, 8 May 2000.