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


Key developments since March 1999: In the conflict in Kosovo, Yugoslav forces laid at least 620 minefields and an estimated 50,000 mines, with the great majority concentrated in the south near the Albanian and Macedonian borders. The KLA also used mines in the conflict.


The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) consists of two Republics, Serbia and Montenegro. The Republic of Serbia has two autonomous provinces, Kosovo and Vojvodina. Serbia has a mixed ethnic population of which a small percentage is Albanian, while in Kosovo most of the population is ethnic Albanian. The FRY has been involved in armed conflicts almost continuously since the disintegration of the Socialist Federal Republic Yugoslavia.

Early in 1999 the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union demanded that the FRY cease repressive measures against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, withdraw its Army and police units from Kosovo, and enable UN peacekeeping forces and international civilian missions to enter and operate in the province. The Yugoslav authorities responded to these demands by increasing repressive measures and starting and accelerating the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo.

On 24 March 1999 NATO started an air campaign against FRY that lasted until 9 June 1999. During this time the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) conducted military operations against Serbian forces in Kosovo. Under UN Resolution 1244, the province was placed under the administrative control of the United Nations. Throughout this most recent conflict, mines were used by both the Yugoslav army and the KLA (See Landmine Monitor Report 2000—Kosovo).

Mine Ban Policy

The FR of Yugoslavia has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT). On 11 January 2000 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that “in spite of the expressed interest of the FR of Yugoslavia to take part in the preparatory stage for the Convention [MBT], it has not been given the opportunity to do so from the very outset. Having joined the negotiations at a later stage, it was not possible for the FR of Yugoslavia to make all necessary preparations related to its possible accession to the Convention before the Ottawa Conference, held in December 1997.”[1] The Foreign Ministry also stated: “The NATO aggression against the FRY of Yugoslavia in March-June 1999 has raised completely new questions about the use of inhumane weapons, among which anti-personnel landmines represent but only one category.... The population of Kosovo and Metohija was also a victim of anti-personnel landmines planted by the terrorist organization of the so-called KLA.... I wish to assure you that we stand ready to continue to participate actively in the efforts towards the elimination of all types of weapons, inhumane weapons in particular, and will make our concrete contribution to this as soon as appropriate conditions have been created to this effect.”[2]

Clearly the key reason Yugoslavia has not signed the MBT is that its military still sees the weapon as useful. In 1996, Col. Dusan Stanizan, chief of engineering on the Yugoslav Military’s General Staff said, “Considering the fact that Yugoslav military doctrine is primarily defensive, antipersonnel and antitank landmines have a very important place in our defensive system.”[3] In January 2000, he commented on their utility in the conflict in Kosovo when he wrote that the Yugoslav Army’s mining of some routes from Albania into Kosovo had prevented KLA soldiers from breaking through.[4]

There has been no perceptible change in official attitudes toward AP mines, despite continuing efforts to open dialogue on the issue by international and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including the Yugoslav Campaign to Ban Landmines (YUCBL) and the Red Cross. With the aim of raising public awareness about AP mines and involving more NGOs in the effort, the YUCBL organized roundtables in Novi Sad, Podgorica and Pristine during 1999 and 2000, to which the Army and Ministry of Defense were invited but refused to attend.[5] On 21 February 2000 the YUCBL wrote to the General Staff and Ministry of Defense requesting information for this report; there has been no reply. Efforts to arrange interviews also failed, and open letters published in newspapers received no response.[6]

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had signed and ratified the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1981 and 1983 respectively. Because the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia asserts itself to be the legal successor of the SFRY, it claims that the CCW has become part of Yugoslav national legislation. The FRY has not ratified Amended Protocol II (Landmines).

Production, Transfer and Stockpile

The SFRY was one of the largest producers of AP mines in the world, and a major exporter, primarily to the lesser developed countries.[7] There have been official and unofficial claims that the FRY has stopped producing and exporting antipersonnel mines, but it is not possible for Landmine Monitor to affirm or disprove these statements.[8] It is likely that current stockpiles remain substantial.

Recent Use

The Yugoslav Army used mines extensively in Kosovo. Maps and other information handed over to the UN Mine Action Coordination Center by Yugoslav authorities in the second half of 1999 indicate that 620 minefields were laid by Yugoslav forces. Although it has been reported that some 500,000 mines were laid, the Kosovo Mine Action Coordination Center (KMACC) has told Landmine Monitor that the actual number is likely to be around 50,000.[9] About eighty percent of the landmines are concentrated near the southern border, while nuisance mines are concentrated in the interior of the province.[10] Yugoslav and KLA use of mines in this province is described in more detail in the separate report on Kosovo.

During 1998 and 1999 the Army also mined areas on the Croatian border, especially bridges and their environs, in anticipation of a possible NATO invasion from the west and north. During this period, minefields were laid near the community of Sid, some of which have been cleared according to a military source.[11] However, the forested left bank of the Bosut River remains very dangerous for civilians. Peasants collecting wood have activated mines with their tractors and now no longer enter this area.[12]

Landmine Problem

In November 1999 the Serbian Ministry of the Interior reported that there are one hundred locations on FRY territory (excluding Kosovo) contaminated with UXO.[13]

During the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, especially in the periods of the Serbian-Croatian war (1991-1992, 1994-1995), mine barriers were deployed on a sixty-six kilometer-long section of the Hungarian-Yugoslavian border, starting at the junction of the river Dráva and the Danube. These minefields were created on the Yugoslavian side of the border by Serbian military corps (Yugoslav People's Army) and para-military troops (Krajinian Serb Republic). The border section, located west of the current Yugoslavia-Croatia-Hungary triple border as far as Drávaszabolcs, is full of AP mines: PMR-2 (concrete Yugoslavian-made), PMR-2A (tripwire, metal, Yugoslavian-made), OMSZ-2 (tripwire) and antitank mines: TMM-1 (metal, Yugoslavian made), TMPR-6 (plastic, Yugoslavian made).[14] Presumably in 1995, Serbian soldiers replaced detonators in the minefields deployed from 1991. It is likely that mines were deployed in the order of ten thousands to form contiguous mine blockade.[15] There are no detailed maps of those minefields.

There have also been successive minings and (partial or complete) deminings of Yugoslavia’s western border with Croatia since approximately 1991, about which there is fragmentary information. An unofficial source reported that the left bank of the Danube has been mined and remined, especially around bridges (for example, bridges near Batina village in Sombors community, near Bogojevo village in Apatin community, and near Backa Palanka).[16] When armed conflict with Croatia ceased, the Yugoslav Army undertook clearance operations in these areas, but an army officer involved in the original mining operations said that many mines were placed in the sand around bridges, that would have been shifted by the river.[17]

Zoran Begovic from the Montenegrin Ministry of Interior claims that after the peace agreement between Yugoslavia and Croatia, the Yugoslav Army cleared all minefields on the border with Croatia in the Debeli Brijeg region.[18] However, in 1997 Yugoslavia refused a proposal to demilitarize the border with Croatia.

Near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Sjeverin village in Priboj community from 1992 to 1998 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees built eight houses for returning refugees. On 13 January 1998 the first returnees found AP mines in the yards of their new homes, and the return of other refugees was stopped.[19] The Prevlaka peninsula in the FRY Republic of Montenegro was heavily mined but may have since been cleared.

Mine Action

At the conclusion of NATO hostilities on 9 June 1999, the FRY also agreed to mark and clear its minefields from Kosovo, and UN Resolution 1244 permitted Yugoslav personnel to return to Kosovo for this purpose; it is not clear what progress has been made as Kosovars did not want them in the province. The FRY also organized teams for clearance of UXO in most communities where NATO dropped cluster bombs, but some areas remain uncleared.[20]

In the SFRY, mine awareness was been regarded as an important element of Yugoslav military doctrine, in the historical context of preparedness of the population in the event of attack, and it had a well-developed program for the general population. However according to one source, the FRY has never organized mine awareness programs for the general population.[21]

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

From the conflicts in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s, 1,250 mine victims were treated in the Institute for Orthopedics and Prosthetics in Belgrade.[22] There are many patients from the wars in Croatia and Bosnia who need new prostheses, and the Institute has had difficulty producing these. The Institute in 1999 and early 2000 received forty-five new patients. It has received no international support for several years, and lacks the financial resources to import materials for fabrication of prostheses, which was an expensive process even before the war. One prosthesis costs approximately $2,000. There are a few Yugoslav companies trying to produce the necessary materials and components, but these are not fully tested. Some patients (mostly young people from Croatia and Bosnia) subject to psychological and social problems have prolonged their stay at the Institute.[23]

There is little information regarding casualties from mines following the fighting in 1999. The impact on civilians has likely been greater from cluster bombs.[24]

The FRY had well developed surgical and rehabilitation services for mine victims, as well as reintegration services for them.[25] In general, the worsening economic situation in Yugoslavia means that disability laws and programs for skills training continue to be poorly implemented if at all, and most landmine survivors are left to the care of their families. Most mine survivors receive disability pensions but all pensions in the FRY are very low.


[1] Letter to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) from Assistant Federal Minister Miroslav Milosevic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Belgrade, 11 January 2000.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Col. Dusan Stanizan, “Mines: Weapon Without Aim,” Novi glasnik (military magazine), March/April 1996.
[4] Dusan Stanizan, “Bridges of Spite and Hope,” Vojska (military magazine), 20 January 2000, p. 6.
[5] Eighteen panelists and approximately seventy participants took part in these roundtables, in Novi Sad (Vojvodina) on 29 September 1999, Podgorica (Montenegro) on 25 November 1999, and Pristine (Kosovo) on 1 March 2000; it was planned to publish material from the roundtables in June 2000.
[6] Danas, 2 October 1999; Pobjeda, 26 November 1999.
[7] For details of mines produced and therefore likely to be in FRY stockpiles, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 827-829.
[8] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 828-829.
[9] Email from Lt. Col. John Flanagan, Program Manager, KMACC, to Landmine Monitor (Mary Wareham), 1 August 2000.
[10] Human Rights Watch interviews with UNMACC and KFOR officials, Pristina, 23-27 August 1999.
[11] Interview with Petar Skokandic, ex-officer of Yugoslav Army, member of Vojvodina Reform Democratic Party, Novi Sad, 14 March 2000.
[12] Interview with Dusan Radosavljevic, member of Vojvodina Reform Democratic Party, Sid, 15 March 2000.
[13] Interview with Col. Vladimir Aleksic, Ministry of the Interior, Politika, 27-30 November 1999.
[14] Telephone interview with Captain Posta, MH HTAZ, Budapest, 7 April 2000;
L. K., "Botlózsinóros aknák magyar területen," Magyar Hírlap, 23 January 1996, p. 1; Németh A. Endre – Erdei Éva, "Új feladatok a déli határon," Magyar Hírlap, 22 January 1996, p. 8.
[15] E. É., "Akna magyar területen," Magyar Hírlap, 10 April 1997, p. 21.
[16] Interview with officer of Yugoslav Army (who requested anonymity) who took part in mining bridges in Backa Palanka during 1991 and 1999, Backa Palanka, 16 March 2000.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Interview with Zoran Begovic Minister of the Interior, Republic of Montenegro, Podgorica, 25 November 1999; this was also stated by Mr. Begovic at the YUCBL roundtable in Podgorica, 25 November 1999.
[19] Interview with Sefko Alomerovic, President of Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, Podgorica, 25 November 1999; this was also stated by Mr. Alomerovic at the YUCBL roundtable in Podgorica, 25 November 1999.
[20] Col. Rajko Stevanovic, “Bombs Remain at One Hundred Locations,” Vojska,16 June 1999.
[21] Interview with Dr. Nikola Bogunovic, vice manager of Yugoslav Health Institution, Belgrade, 15 January 1999.
[22] Interview with Ljubisa Jovanovic, prosthetics ward chief, and chief technician Branko Savic, Institute for Orthopedics and Prosthetics, Belgrade, 29 January 1999; Interview with Ljubisa Jovanovic, Belgrade, 4 March 2000; this figure was previously reported as 600 mine victims. They were from Krajina, which is part of Croatian territory then under the control of the ethnic Serb majority. For details of rehabilitation services in the FRY, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 834-836.
[23] Statement by Ljubisa Jovanovic, Institute for Orthopedics and Prosthetics, Belgrade, at the YUCBL roundtable, Novi Sad, 29 September 1999.
[24] “Report from Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Politika,18 May 1999, says that during the NATO campaign in 1999, 200 people were reported killed, and more than 450 wounded from cluster bombs.
[25] For more information on survivor assistance, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 834-836.