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


Key developments since March 1999: Angolan UNITA rebels and Angolan government troops have used landmines inside Namibia. The number of mine incidents in Namibia has increased dramatically since December 1999. Mine clearance operations have continued and in February 2000 the U.S. completed its training program. Namibia had not submitted its Article 7 transparency measures report which was due by 27 August 1999.

Mine Ban Treaty

Namibia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 21 September 1998. Although there is no formal national legislation passed, the treaty has become part of national law under the terms of a provision in the Namibian Constitution.

Namibia had not submitted its Article 7 transparency measures report which was due by 27 August 1999. The Namibian Campaign to Ban Landmines has been unable to establish whether any submission is being prepared and its inquiries have received no response from either the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Defense.[1]

The country participated in the First Meeting of States Parties held at Maputo on 3-7 May 1999 by sending an officer from their Ministry of Defense. Namibia did not attend any meetings of the intersessional Standing Committees of Experts. Namibia is not known to have made any statements regarding the Mine Ban Treaty or a ban more generally in 1999 or 2000. Namibia voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54 B in support of the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1999.

Namibia is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons nor is it a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling

Namibia denies that it has produced or exported antipersonnel mines.[2] Lingering questions regarding PMD-6 mines either assembled or produced in Namibia have not been resolved.[3]

As reported in Landmine Monitor Report 1999, Namibian officials claim that all AP mines were destroyed by May 1998, and only a small stockpile has been retained for training purposes.[4] At the same time, there had been reports about a substantial stockpile of AP mines, including POMZ-2 and PMD-6 AP mines stored at Grootfontein Military Base. In March 1999, in his annual report to Parliament, the country's Auditor-General, who carried out an inspection of the controversial ammunition storage at the Grootfontein Military Base, stated that “there were slack controls over some of the most dangerous arms and ammunition in the base.”[5]

Use by Angolan UNITA Rebels

In late 1999 Namibia gave permission for its territory to be used by Angolan government troops as a base for attacks on UNITA positions in southeastern Angola.[6] Angolan government forces were permitted to use Namibian military bases and other facilities to store and transfer weapons and ammunition to combat zones in the southeastern regions of Angola as well as in the northeastern parts of Namibia.

Angola’s UNITA rebels responded to this by conducting military operations in northern Namibia including laying landmines.[7] UNITA has been accused by the Namibian authorities of having planted AT and AP mines in the Kavango and Caprivi regions of the country.[8]

According to the police since December 1999 AP mine incidents have increased by “an alarming 12.01%.”[9] An examination of the mines in these incidents strongly pointed to UNITA’s use:[10]

  • improvised AT mine consisting of a two kilogram block of TNT explosives connected with South African manufactured military detonating cord to a pressure release fuze of Bulgarian origin;
  • Chinese Type 72;
  • South African Claymore-type mines with a mechanical pull-switch of Bulgarian origin;
  • South African R2M2 AP mine. These mines were manufactured in 1978 and were in an immaculate condition and appeared to have been recently taken out of a crate. Several others found of 1987 origin, all kept under good storage conditions. According to Military Intelligence in South Africa these mines were traced to consignments given to UNITA before majority rule;
  • TM-57 with a pressure switch of Bulgarian origin attached to South African manufactured military detonating fuze. This mine was possibly a South African recycled mine, dating to pre-Namibia independence when it is alleged the South African Defense Force removed the explosive content of captured Soviet mines, refilled them with inferior explosives and gave them to UNITA.

In February 2000 the U.S. Embassy “strongly urged” its citizens to avoid the “entire northern border of Namibia,” adding that “UNITA has staged violent cross-border raids and planted landmines.”[11] In this period the U.S. Embassy, Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) and European missions pulled out their nationals from the Ohangwena region. Telephones in rural areas of Kavango, including at hospitals were also affected by the use of landmines. Technicians, fearful of attacks by suspected UNITA rebels and their landmines refused to service faulty phone lines. Only in April did they resume their work once the security forces provided escorts.[12]

On 11 April 2000, suspected UNITA rebels blew up electricity pylons, bringing the construction industry to a standstill in Caprivi and Kavango. Two women were injured after stepping on AP mines left by the assailants in the area.[13] On 29 May 2000 a landmine exploded in the middle of Ntara Catholic church just after a service finished. Twenty-six-year-old Renate Nekaro stepped on the AP mine while leaving church and lost her right foot. Eight others were slightly injured. This incident brought to sixteen the number of mine victims that week in Kavango.[14] In the same period an NGO worker witnessed three landmines put across a road with a tripwire to ensure that the first car driving in the morning would set off the mines.[15]

Not all freshly placed mines may have been laid by UNITA rebels. On 19 April 2000, a news report on the local NBC radio quoted Ambrosius Haingura, a regional counselor, as cautioning that “UNITA rebels should not be blamed for all the criminal activities in the Kavango region.”[16] Haingura was reacting to a landmine incident and attacks on civilians two days previously. In May several Angolans linked to the Angolan military were put on trial in Rundu for possessing and using landmines for criminal gain.[17]

Use by Angolan Government Forces

There have been reports of possession and use of AP mines inside Namibia by Angolan government troops. Two members of the Angolan Armed Forces were charged with possession in May 2000. Also in May, two other members of the Angolan Armed Forces were arrested following a robbery and an AP mine incident at Ntara village. [19]

Use by Namibian Forces

Landmine Monitor is not aware of any allegations that Namibian forces have used mines inside Namibian territory. Nor is Landmine Monitor aware of any allegations of use of mines by Namibian forces in Angola, during their joint operations against UNITA. In January 2000 the media reported on a joint operation inside Angola and published pictures of Namibian and Angolan government soldiers said to have been injured in mine explosions near UNITA's former bush base at Jamba in southeastern Angola.[18]

Angolan forces, however, have used mines against UNITA. The ICBL has expressed concern that a Mine Ban Treaty State Party, such as Namibia, may be violating the treaty by virtue of participating in a joint military operation with another nation, such as Angola, that uses antipersonnel mines in that operation. Under Article 1 of the Mine Ban Treaty, a State Party may not “under any circumstance...assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity that is prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.” Moreover, Namibia could be in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty if it were to permit Angolan forces to stockpile antipersonnel mines inside Namibia, or to transit AP mines across Namibian territory, or to use AP mines on Namibian territory.

Although most of the forces fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been accused of laying landmines, Landmine Monitor is not aware of any allegations of use by Namibian troops supporting the government forces of Laurent Kabila. But, it does appear likely that Kabila’s forces have used antipersonnel mines, and possibly others foreign armies fighting on the side of the government. (See Landmine Monitor report on DRC). Again, Namibia could be in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty by virtue of engaging in joint military operations with any armed force that uses antipersonnel mines.

Namibia should make clear the nature of its support for any foreign forces that are using antipersonnel mines, and make clear its views with regard to the legality under the Mine Ban Treaty of its joint military operations with Angola and the DRC. As a party to the treaty, Namibia should state categorically that it will not participate in joint operations with any force that uses antipersonnel mines.

Landmine Problem

An assessment mission from the UNMAS visited the country toward the end of 1999. UNMAS concluded, “The landmine situation in Namibia constitutes neither a humanitarian emergency nor a major obstacle for development.” It stated, “The mine problem in Namibia is finite, well known and could be solved relatively quickly given the appropriate resources and co-ordination. Therefore, Namibia could become the first, or one of the first, mine-affected countries to declare itself mine free.”[20]

However, as noted above, there is a growing problem in the Kavango and Caprivi districts due to conflict involving Namibian, Angolan, and UNITA forces. Mines and UXO are still present in the densely populated Kaokoland, Owambo, Kavango, and Caprivi Strip districts in the northwestern, northern, and northeastern regions of the country as a result of twenty-three years of conflict between Southwest African People’s Organization (SWAPO) and South African troops.

Although more than 60% of the country’s population inhabits these areas, only a small fraction could be described as “affected” in terms of occasional explosions, leading to civilian casualties, as well as destruction of livestock.

Most of the mined areas are unmarked. This includes the areas where mine clearance operations were underway.[21] Nine former military bases of the South African Defense Force (SADF) were properly marked as they were protected by antipersonnel mines. However, civilians had since removed most of fencing around such bases in order to make their own fences at home. Records, including maps of such minefields, were handed over to the incoming Namibian government in 1990 by the SADF.

Mine Action Funding

The U.S. began funding a range of mine action programs in 1995. This included “train-the-trainer” programs for mine clearance, establishment and operation of a national demining office, equipment, and mine awareness programs. Total U.S. funding through 1999 was $8.3 million. This included $1.053 million in fiscal year 1999 (October 1998-September 1999) for mine clearance along the power pylons in the northwestern parts of the country. An additional $300,000 will be contributed in fiscal year 2000, and $100,000 more in 2001, for mine clearance along the power lines.[22] The sole recipient of this U.S. funding is the Namibian government. The U.S. Defense Department training program was completed in February 2000.

There is no policy, criteria, strategy, or practice governing the allocation and use of mine action funds or in-kind contributions. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Defense are responsible for receiving funding donated for mine action in the country. There appears to be cooperation between the two institutions. Whereas the Ministry of Defense is responsible for mine clearance, the Ministry of Information is responsible for mine awareness education.

Apart from the U.S. government and the Mine Advisory Group (MAG), a British NGO, neither the government nor any other organizations or individuals in the country are known to have made financial and other in-kind contributions to humanitarian mine action in the country. On 16 June 1999, MAG donated $2,000 to the NCBL to monitor military mine clearance operations along the 409 power pylons in the northwestern parts of the country. Namibia does not appear to have any domestic resources for mine action.

Mine Clearance

Mine clearance operations have been underway in Namibia since 1989.[23] From March 1995 to February 2000, the U.S. carried out a “train-the-trainer” program.

The clearance around nine former military bases conducted between 1995-1998 destroyed 2,383 antipersonnel mines and 1,107 UXO.[24] The clearing of the berms and minefields around 409 power pylons as part of a second mine clearance program were declared as “success” by the Ministry of Defense. On 28 October 1999, the State Secretary for Defense informed a conference of the SADC Mine Action Committee that a total of 3,161 antipersonnel mines and 1,107 UXO have been destroyed since the program began in 1998. [25] Of these, 1,214 were destroyed from 200 of the 409 pylons.[26]

Namibia has hosted demonstrations and field tests of several demining technologies. MgM, a German mine clearance NGO, tested its ROTAR sifter in September 1999. Previously, the U.S. provided prototype machinery called a “berm processor” to mechanically clear landmines from berms surrounding 409 electrical pylons.

There are no procedures to ensure that land cleared of mines is transferred to those who are entitled to it. The prime beneficiaries of mine-cleared land would be the local communities. In the absence of a demographic survey it is impossible to quantify the effect of mine clearance in the country. Except in one case where the former SADF base at Omahenene was converted to be used as headquarters of a women's development project and offices of the Ministry of Agriculture, none of the other former bases have been put to specific civilian use.[27]

Some communities are not satisfied with the mine clearance as mine explosions do occur even in areas said to have been cleared. At least two mine explosions have occurred in the Ohangwena and Omusati regions, which were declared “mine free” in 1998 by the Namibian Defense Force.[28] An antitank mine explosion occurred at Onengali Village, in Ohangwena Region in November 1999.[29] Several people were injured near Etunda in the Omusati Region in January 1999.[30]

Landmine Casualties

The number of mine incidents in Namibia has increased dramatically since December 1999. According to the police since December 1999 AP mine incidents have increased by “an alarming 12.01%.”[31]

According to the Namibian police, two soldiers were killed while ten women and children were injured in thirteen separate mine incidents between 13 December 1999 and 2 March 2000 in the Kavango and Caprivi regions.[32]

According to the Namibian Red Cross between December 1999 and mid-May 2000 landmines in northern Namibia’s Kavango region have injured eighty-nine people, including Angolan soldiers and civilians.[33]

On 10 April 2000, the Explosives Unit of the police released a report detailing mine incidents in the Kavango and Western Caprivi regions between January and April 2000. According to the report, twenty-three persons were injured while three died from such mine incidents during that period.[34]

On 29 June 2000, the Namibia Campaign to Ban Landmines (NCBL) was informed by relatives that at least two Namibian soldiers died in the DRC when they stepped on “friendly” antipersonnel mines of unknown origin allegedly planted by Zimbabwean soldiers there.

The Office of the Chief Inspector of Explosives records show that from 1989-1999, there were 106 people killed and 254 injured in mine and UXO explosions.[35] The data shows 87% of all accidents were due to UXO, not mines.

According to the NDF there was no “single casualty” or injury on the part of the NDF deminers.[36]

Victim Assistance

According to Ms. Batseba Katjioungua, Director of Social Services, Ministry of Health and Social Services, no donor funding was received to care for the over 2,000 mine victims in the country.[37] However, the Namibian Red Cross in June 2000 announced that it, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies were conducting an assessment of the needs of amputees.[38]

The government has not yet adopted any national legislation regarding persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation is primarily responsible for the coordination on disability matters.


[1] Letter by Phil ya Nangoloh, NCBL Coordinator addressed to the Minister of Defense, 16 February 2000.
[2] Verbal denial (regarding research and production) by Defense Minister Erkki Nghimtina during a meeting with the NCBL, 12 January 1999.
[3] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 65-66.
[4] Ibid.
[5] “No explosives threat, says Defense,” The Namibian, 9 March 1999.
[6] “Angola: New concerns as fighting rages along southern border", IRIN, 22 December 1999; “Sergeant killed in UNITA attack,” The Namibian, 22 December 1999; “Civilian killings spark concern,” The Namibian, 22 December 1999; “Unita 80 percent destroyed, says Angolan army chief,” The Namibian, 21 December 1999; “Angolan fighting spread into Namibia,” The Independent Online, 20 December 1999.
[7] “Angola’s UNITA Rebels Say They Will Go on Harassing Namibian Civilians,” Die Republikein (Namibian Newspaper), 4 February 2000, distributed in English by BBC Worldwide Monitoring, 6 February 2000.
[8] Replying letter from the Inspector General of the Namibian Police addressed to the Director of Administration of the National Society for Human Rights, 2 March 2000.
[9] “Report On Anti-Personnel Mine Incidents: Kavango Region, January-April 2000,” Chief Inspector of Explosives, 10 April 2000.
[10] Ibid.
[11] U.S. Department of State, “Namibia - Consular Information Sheet,” 19 May 2000.
[12] “Foreign Missions Remove Workers in North,” Africa News Service, Windhoek, 14 February 2000.
[13] The Namibian, 12 April 2000.
[14] “Landmine Explodes Inside RC Church,” Africa News Service, Windhoek, 30 May 2000; “Landmine Injures 11 People,” IRIN, 29 May 2000.
[15] The Namibian, 30 May 2000.
[16] A. Maketo, Namibian Broadcasting Company radio news report, 1900, 19 April 2000.
[17] “Angolans Face Terror Charges,” IRIN, 24 May 2000; journalist Pedro Rosa Mendes obtained similar accounts from local residents of Angolan government complicity, interview 6 June 2000; Publico, 10 May 2000.
[19] For accounts of use by Angolan troops in an operation in northern Namibia see: “Namibia: Angolans face terror charge,” IRIN, 24 May 2000; journalist Pedro Rosa Mendes obtained similar accounts from local residents, interview, 6 June 2000; Publico (Lisbon), 10 May 2000; National Society for Human Rights (Namibia) Press Release, “Kavango Atrocities Update I,” 23 May 2000.
[18] “Two more FAA casualties,” The Namibian, 4 February 2000; “Namibia Wary of Insecurity After 10 Years of Peace,” Pan African News Agency, 25 January 2000; “Namibia: Government reiterates support for Angola,” IRIN, 24 January 2000; “SPFF Clash with UNITA rebels,” New Era, 14-16 January 2000, pp. 1-2.
[20] UNMAS, Joint Assessment Mission Report: Namibia, 6 April 2000, p. 3.
[21] “Marking the First Anniversary of Mine Ban Treaty,” NCBL/NSHR, 28 February 1999; The Namibian, 2 March 1999.
[22] U.S. State Department, “Congressional Budget Justification, FY 2001,” 15 March 2000; U.S. State Department, “FY 2000 NADR Status,” 5 May 2000; interview with Ms. Ruby Aspler, Director, American Cultural Center, U.S. Embassy Windhoek, 15 March 2000.
[23] “Mine Awareness Campaign,” speech by Lt. Col. M K Nashandi, Commander, Engineer Regiment, Oshikango, 18 September 1998.
[24] Defense Minister, Erkki Nghimtina, “Message on Mine Awareness Campaign,” Information Campaign on Mines & UXOs, 23 September 1998, p. 2.
[25] “Demining in Namibia's north a great success,” Windhoek Observer, 29 October 1999; “Power Plus,” The Namibian Online, 13 December 1999; “1,214 Mines Destroyed from 200 Pylons so Far: Demeaning operation on Good Course,” New Era, 13-16 December 1999; “Over 1,200 Mines Destroyed in Namibia's Etosha,” Pan Africa News Agency, 11 December 1999.
[26] “Over 1,200 Mines Destroyed in Namibia's Etosha,” Pan Africa News Agency, 11 December 1999; “1,214 Mines Destroyed from 200 Pylons so Far: Demining Operation on Good Course,” New Era, 13-16 December 1999; “Power Plus,” The Namibian, 13 December 1999.
[27] “Omahenene Receive Close to N$500,000,” New Era, 10-12 March 2000.
[28] “Nam edges closer to being proclaimed landmine-free,” The Namibian, 31 August 1998, p. 5.
[29] “Villagers fearful after mine blast,” The Namibian, 16 November 1999.
[30] “5 Injured,” New Era, 11-14 January 1999 and “Four hurt in explosion,” The Namibian, 11 January 1999, p. 1.
[31] “Report On Anti-Personnel Mine Incidents: Kavango Region, January-April 2000,” Chief Inspector of Explosives, 10 April 2000.
[32] Replying letter from the Inspector General of the Namibian Police addressed to the Director of Administration of the National Society for Human Rights, 2 March 2000.
[33] The Namibian, 29 June 2000.
[34] Chief Inspector of Explosives, “Report on Anti-Personnel Mine Incidents, Kavango Region,” January-April 2000.
[35] UNMAS, Joint Assessment Mission: Namibia, 6 April 2000, p. 9. See also, “Demining in Namibia's north a great success,” Windhoek Observer, 29 October 1999.
[36] “1,214 Mines Destroyed from 200 pylon so far De-mining operation on good course,” New Era, 13-16 December 1999.
[37] Interview with Ms. Batseba Katjiuongua, Director of Social Services, Ministry of Health and Social Services, 23 February 2000.
[38] The Namibian, 29 June 2000.