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Country Reports
ECUADOR, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
 
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ECUADOR

Key developments since May 2000: Ecuador and the Organization of American States signed a Framework Agreement for an Integrated Mine Action Program in Ecuador. Ecuador has reported that it is retaining 16,000 antipersonnel mines for training, the second highest number of any State Party.

Mine Ban Policy

Ecuador signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997, ratified on 29 April 1999 and the treaty entered into force on 1 October 1999. Ecuador has not enacted national implementation legislation.[1] Ecuador submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report on 29 March 2000, covering the period April 1999 to March 2000. It submitted a second Article 7 report on 23 August 2000, covering the period to July 2000, and a third Article 7 report on 5 March 2001, covering the period to March 2001.

Ecuador attended the Second Meeting of States Parties in September 2000, and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001. In November 2000 Ecuador participated in the Regional Seminar on Stockpile Destruction in the Americas in Buenos Aires. Also in November, Ecuador voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 55/33V, supporting the Mine Ban Treaty.

Ecuador is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not ratified Amended Protocol II on landmines. It did not participate in the Second Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2000.

Servicio Paz y Justicia Ecuador (SERPAJ) formally joined the ICBL in May 2001 to represent interested NGOs in Ecuador in the global landmines campaign. SERPAJ also conducts Landmine Monitor research for Ecuador.

Production, Transfer and Use

Ecuador states that it has not produced or exported antipersonnel mines, and it does not have production facilities.[2] From information included in its Article 7 reports, it appears that in the past Ecuador imported antipersonnel mines from Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Singapore, the former Soviet Union, Spain, and the United States.[3]

No use of mines was recorded during the reporting period. Ecuador states that it has not used antipersonnel mines since the 1995 Cenepa border conflict with Peru, but there are reports of use up until 1998.[4] Ecuador contends that Peru laid mines as well during the conflict, but Peru denies any use.

Stockpiling and Destruction

In its most recent Article 7 report, Ecuador reported a stockpile of 170,344 antipersonnel mines as of March 2001:[5]

  • 128,931 T-AB-1 mines (manufactured by Brazil);
  • 25,151 VS-50 mines (Singapore);
  • 10,061 PRB-M 409 mines (Belgium);
  • 200 PRB-M 35 mines (Belgium);
  • 5,856 MON-50 mines (Soviet Union).
  • 58 PMD-6M mines (Soviet Union);
  • 70 P-4-B mines (Spain);
  • 17 M18A1 Claymore mines (USA).

Ecuador has not reported any stockpile destruction since March 2000, when it reported that 101,458 antipersonnel mines had been destroyed.[6] Antipersonnel mines destroyed include 93,278 MAPP 78 F-2 mines (manufactured by Chile), 4,655 MAPP 78 F-2 mines (Chile), and 3,525 MAPT 78 tracción F-2 mines (Chile).[7] Ecuador reports that these mines were transferred to the Logistics Support Brigade No. 25 (Reino de Quito) and were destroyed by detonation at the Army’s Practice Range (El Corazón) in Machaci, Pichincha province, near Quito.

The Centro de Desminado del Ecuador, CENDESMI (Ecuadorian Mine Clearance Center) is responsible for mine action in the country, including stockpile destruction. CENDESMI provided Landmine Monitor with its stockpile destruction plan.[8] Following the transfer of mines, stockpile destruction was due to start on 26 February 2001 and due for completion by 27 August 2001. Ecuador reported that from March 2000 to July 2000, 154,344 antipersonnel mines were transferred for the purposes of destruction.[9] However, Landmine Monitor is unaware of any actual destruction; none was reported in subsequent Article 7 reports or to the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction meetings in December 2000 and May 2001.

However, in its May-June 2001 newsletter, the OAS reported that Ecuador had a stockpile of some 154,000 antipersonnel mines,[10] possibly indicating some destruction activity. The OAS also stated that the goal for stockpile destruction under the Ecuador/OAS Framework Agreement was to meet the Managua Challenge and “destroy these stockpiles by the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, which will be held in Nicaragua in September [2001].”

In its initial Article 7 report, Ecuador indicated that it would retain 170,344 antipersonnel mines for training and development purposes. After serious expressions of concern from the ICBL and States Parties, Ecuador explained that this had been an error.[11] Ecuador subsequently reported that it would retain 16,000 antipersonnel mines.[12] However, this still represents the second highest total of retained mines by any State Party.

Landmine Problem

Ecuador’s mine problem along its border with Perú is the result of the 1995 “Cenepa” border conflict. The Cordillera del Cóndor, where the 1995 conflict broke out along 78 kilometers of the previously unmarked border, is believed to be the most heavily mined-affected area.[13] Ecuador has reported five mine-affected areas; Landmine Monitor Report 2000 provided details on the mined areas and the types of mines encountered.[14] The Ecuadorian military estimate the number of mines on its side of the border with Peru in the Cordillera del Cóndor region to be in excess of 90,000.[15]

In May 2001, a Peruvian media article reported on the danger posed by mines displaced by the El Niño phenomenon, and resulting flooding of the Zarumilla river, along the border in Peruvian and Ecuadorian territory.[16]

On 29 May 2001, after two children were killed and a third seriously injured by unexploded ordnance, Domingo Peas, leader of the Achuar [indigenous people] Federation of Ecuador (FINAE) was reported to have said that a number of indigenous communities could not work the land for fear of explosives:

The [mine clearance] process is slow in the region, and many of our brothers are fearful of encountering landmines, and for that reason do not hunt. Achuar territory has been reduced, even children do not go into the bush because their parents prevent them from doing it. [17]

With the exception of a technical visit by the OAS in March 2001, no assessment missions or surveys have been recorded in Ecuador since August 1999.

Mine Action Funding

On 19 March 2001 Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heinz Moeller, and OAS Assistant Secretary General, Luigi Einaudi, signed the Ecuador/OAS Framework Agreement for an Integrated Mine Action Program in Ecuador.[18] At the time of the signing, the Foreign Minister stated, “The financial support will help the government of Ecuador to acquire specialized equipment and continue with mine clearance along the border with Perú, laid in the undeclared war of 1995.”[19] This signing ceremony was followed by a technical visit to the country by the OAS from 26 to 30 March 2001.[20] The OAS was due to establish an office in Ecuador in May 2001 to begin its support to the demining operation and the stockpile destruction program.[21] Mine clearance will be carried out through four operations modules, each lasting six months.[22]

OAS support for country programs in Ecuador and Perú are pilot projects with a two-year timeline requiring just over $2 million per year per country.[23] The OAS reports that the international community has either allocated or committed more than $1 million in order to initiate each program in Ecuador and Perú.[24] According to the OAS Director in Ecuador, the OAS will provide $4.5 million to support mine clearance along the border with Perú.[25]

Several countries have contributed to Ecuador’s mine clearance operation with both monetary and in-kind contributions including Brazil, Canada, Japan, Spain, and the United States.

In 2000 the US provided $2.1 million, including $500,000 for the OAS pilot project and $500,000 for equipment.[26] The US Department of Defense provided support to the national demining authority and conducted a training mission, which trained 40 Ecuadorian Army deminers. More training is planned in 2001.

Canada (through CIDA) has allocated Can$400,000 to allow the OAS to coordinate and execute Phase II of its demining operations on the Ecuador-Peru border.[27] The contribution will fund detection, protection and clearance equipment and logistic support for demining in the Tiwinza region. A previous Canadian contribution to the OAS in 1998 of Can$300,000 facilitated the creation of the OAS Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action in Peru/Ecuador.

Mine Clearance

The Centro de Desminado del Ecuador, CENDESMI (Ecuadorian Mine Clearance Center), is the agency responsible for all mine action in Ecuador, including implementation of the Ecuador/OAS Framework Agreement for an Integrated Mine Action Program. CENDESMI has an administrative unit, an operations unit, and a National School of Demining. CENDESMI national operational command center is located near Quito, while the operational unit has two field regional command centers, one in El Oro (“Tarqui”) and one in Morona Santiago (“Amazonas”).[28]

CENDESMI personnel have participated in a number of training courses with the assistance of donor countries, including courses on basic mine clearance (Spain), on humanitarian mine clearance (USA), on using “Lexfoam” and “Airespade” (USA), on a mine clearance protective suit (Canada), and a course for instructors (Spain). Ecuador itself has carried out eight basic mine clearance courses.[29] During 2001, CENDESMI plans to provide training courses to 60 officers and 398 soldiers, including four basic and two advanced courses on mine clearance, two courses for instructors, and one course for supervisors.[30]

Until August 2000, the Cenepa and Santiago Battalions carried out mine clearance operations. The Cenepa Battalion carried out demining in the area around the Yaupi and Santiago rivers in the Cordillera del Cóndor, while the Santiago Battalion carried out demining in the Zarumilla river area in El Oro province. At Twinza, mine clearance of the four corner markers was completed on 16 January 1999, but the kilometer leading to the Twinza memorial area has not yet been demined.[31]

According to its August 2000 Article 7 report, Ecuador had cleared and destroyed 301 mines until June 2000.[32] For the period between July 2000 and March 2001, Ecuador reported that 2,889 mines were cleared and destroyed.[33]

Mine Awareness

Some limited mine awareness education has been undertaken by the military’s psychological operations branch, which produced and distributed posters and pamphlets with mine awareness messages. In Loja and El Oro, some mine awareness education has been conducted by the military with the assistance of local schools. According to the Director of CENDESMI, mine awareness materials are nailed to trees in mine-affected areas to warn the local indigenous population.[34]

Landmine Casualties

There is no systematic data-gathering mechanism for landmine accidents in Ecuador and exact figures are unavailable. The Ministry of Health does not have an official registry and neither does the National Statistics Institute.

The most recent mine incident occurred on 25 March 2001 in Shaymi, near the Peruvian border when a man who was hunting stepped on a mine and received serious injuries.[35] He was taken to the health clinic in Guayzimi and then to the hospital in Zamora.

On 29 May 2001 two children were killed and a third was seriously injured when they found an unspecified type of grenade that exploded. The incident occurred in Parroquia Montalvo in Pastaza, while US Army Rangers and the Ecuador’s Jungle Battalion No.49 were conducting a training exercise.[36] An uncle of one of the deceased children demanded compensation from the Ecuadorian Armed Forces, and requested that the area either be fenced off or patrolled, since many local children play in the area.[37]

In April 2001, the Director of CENDESMI told Landmine Monitor that the mine clearance teams have not had any accidents since February 2000.[38] Since the end of the conflict in 1995 there has been approximately 34 landmine-related accidents involving soldiers, including seven deaths.[39]

Survivor Assistance

The military in Ecuador has a health care system that provides integrated care to military landmine victims through the Armed Forces Social Security Institute (ISSFA, Instituto de Seguridad Social de las Fuerzas Armadas).[40] Mine clearance operations have a helicopter available at all times, and a doctor and a nurse, in case of accidents or injuries. At the end of the conflict in 1995, Ecuador’s Armed Forces decided to retain military landmine survivors and other disabled veterans in the service and the Asociación de Ex-Combatientes discapacitados “Alto Cenepa” (Association of Disabled Veterans, “Upper Cenepa”) was created within the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Quito. According to the President of the Association, there are 125 disabled veterans. Forty-seven of the 112 disabled veterans still in active service have prostheses. [41]

An Information Technology Project (“Proyecto de Informática”) has trained disabled veterans on computer programming. The goal is that they in turn can be employed providing this training to military personnel, as well as civilians. Due to the high costs of obtaining and repairing prostheses in the country, the President of the Association is attempting to establish a Prosthesis and Orthosis Center.[42]

On 31 March 1995, a law was enacted to support victims of the conflict with housing, pensions and school bursaries for their children. One veteran told Landmine Monitor that only 95 houses have been handed to the veterans, without deeds, and school bursaries were only handed out in the first months, then support was suspended.[43]

The Fundación Futuro [Futuro Foundation] was established by the Association of Disabled Persons of the Armed Forces, the Association of Parents with Disabled Children and the Association of Disabled Veterans “Upper Cenepa.” According to the President of the “Upper Cenepa” Association, the Futuro Foundation was created because of a lack of government support for disabled people. The Futuro Foundation is a non-governmental foundation that will seek to obtain international cooperation for support programs for its members.

Civilians injured by landmines do not receive the same level of attention as military personnel and are not provided with adequate services. According to UNMAS, this reflected the gaps and weaknesses of the current health system, which is particularly acute in the remote and relatively inaccessible border regions that are mine-affected.[44] Individuals who live in remote areas must rely on small medical outposts with only a basic infrastructure, or travel long distances to Quito to get appropriate medical attention, a situation described by one local disability organization as “absolutely inadequate.”[45]

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[1] The Article 9 section of all of Ecuador’s Article 7 reports indicates that a National Demining Center was established by Executive Decree No 1247, 23 September 1999 but no further measures, such as legislation, are listed.
[2] Article 7 report, Form E, 5 March 2001.
[3] Article 7 report, Form B, 29 March 2000; Article 7 report, Form B, 5 March 2001.
[4] Telephone interview with Colonel Miguel Patricio Proaño, 27 March 2000. There have been reports of use since 1995. The Latin American Association for Human Rights (ALDHU) told the UN in December 1996 that mine-laying activities were still on-going in the contested area and that an estimated 10,000 landmines had been laid since the cease-fire of February 1995. UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 10. A former Defense Minister has said that in the last tense moments before the end of peace negotiations in October 1998, a brief “landmine war” was fought between the two countries, which consisted of use of AP mines used by both parties “against enemy patrols” in border areas. Pablo Cuvi, Interview with General José Gallardo, in Al Filo de la Paz [On the Edge of Peace], (Dinediciones, Quito), March 2000, pp. 49-68.
[5] Article 7 report, Form B, 23 August 2000; Article 7 report, Form B, 5 March 2001.
[6] Article 7 report, Form G, 29 March 2000. The subsequent Article 7 reports, dated 23 August 2000 and 5 March 2001 reported the same number of mines destroyed.
[7] Article 7 report, Form G, 23 August 2000.
[8] Interview with Colonel Hernán Bedón, Commander of the 23rd Brigade “Cenepa” and head of mine clearance operations at CENDESMI, 27 April 2001.
[9] Article 7 report, Form D, 23 August 2000. The mines were transferred to the Logistics Support Brigade No.25 (Reino de Quito), including 119,641 T-AB-1 mines, 20,151 VS-50 mines, 9,561 PRB M-409 mines, and 4,856 MOH-50 mines. The remaining mines were transferred to the Engineer’s Brigade No.23 “Cenepa”, including 8 PMD-6M mines, 100 PRB M-35 mines, 7 M18A1 Claymore mines, and 20 P-4-B mines.
[10] OAS News, “Destroying Land Mines in Ecuador, Peru,” May-June 2001.
[11] See Article 7 report, Form D, 29 March 2000, and Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 264. The 170,334 figure corresponds to the number of mines Ecuador has subsequently reported as transferring for destruction (154,344) plus the number to be retained for training (16,000).
[12] Article 7 report, Form D, 23 August 2000; Article 7 report, Form D, 5 March 2001. The mines retained include 9,290 T-AB-1 mines, 5,000 VS-50 mines, 500 PRB M-409 mines, and 1,000 MOH-50 mines at the Brigada de Apoyo Logístico No. 25 “Reino de Quito” (Logistics Support Brigade No.25). At the Brigada de Ingenieros No.23 “Cenepa,” (Engineer’s Brigade No.23) antipersonnel mines retained include 50 PMD-6M mines, 100 PRB M-35 mines, 10 M18A1 Claymore mines, and 50 P-4-B mines.
[13] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 10.
[14] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 265. See also, Article 7 report, Form C, 5 March 2001.
[15] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 10.
[16] “En la frontera temen remoción de minas,” El Tiempo, Piura, Perú, 23 March 2001. See also UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999.
[17] Marcelo Gálvez, “Dos muertos en maniobras,” El Universo (Guayaquil), 30 May 2001; Marcelo Gálvez, “Familia de niño muerto demandará a las FF.AA,” El Universo (Guayaquil), 7 June 2001.
[18] OAS, “Destroying Land Mines in Ecuador, Peru,” (Newsletter), May-June 2001.
[19] “La OEA apoya a Ecuador en el desminado de la frontera con Perú,” Agence France Presse (Quito), 19 March 2001.
[20] Email to Landmine Monitor from William McDonough, OAS Mine Action Coordinator, 17 April 2001.
[21] Ibid.
[22] Interview with Dr. Carlos Ocampos, Director, OAS Ecuador, Quito. Landmine Monitor has a copy of the Framework Agreement.
[23] Email to Landmine Monitor from William McDonough, OAS Mine Action Coordinator, 17 April 2001.
[24] OAS, “Informe del Secretario General sobre la implementación de las Resoluciones 1745 (apoyo a la acción contra las minas en Ecuador y Perú) y 1751 (apoyo a la acción contra las mineas en Centroamérica),” 7 May 2001.
[25] Interview with Dr. Carlos Ocampos, Director, OAS Ecuador, Quito. See also “La OEA apoya a Ecuador en el desminado de la frontera con Perú,” Agence France Presse, Quito, 19 March 2001.
[26] This funding is for the period of the US fiscal year which for FY2000 was October 1999 to September 2000. US Department of State, Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, "FY00 NADR Project Status," 27 December 2000; US Department of State, Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, “Demining Program Financing History" 24 October 2000; US Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, "HD FY00 for Landmine Monitor,” 7 June 2001.
[27] See www.mines.gc.ca/IV_C_ii-e-asp, last modified 22 June 2001.
[28] Article 7 report, Form A, 5 March 2001.
[29] Interview with Colonel Hernán Bedón, Commander of the 23rd Brigade “Cenepa” and Director of mine clearance operations at CENDESMI, 27 April 2001.
[30] Interview with officials of the 23rd Brigade “Cenepa,” 27 April 2001.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Article 7 report, Form G Table 2, 23 August 2000.
[33] Article 7 report, Form G Table 2, 5 March 2001.
[34] Interview with Colonel Hernán Bedón, Commander of the 23rd Brigade “Cenepa” and Head of mine clearance operations at CENDESMI, 27 April 2001.
[35] “Cazador pisó mina antipersonal,” La Hora Zamora (Zamora), 25 March 2001.
[36] Marcelo Gálvez, “Dos muertos en maniobras,” El Universo (Guayaquil), 30 May 2001.
[37] Marcelo Gálvez, “Familia de Niño muerto demandará a las FF.AA,” El Universo (Guayaquil), 7 June 2001.
[38] Interview with Colonel Hernán Bedón, Commander of the 23rd Brigade “Cenepa” and Head of mine clearance operations at CENDESMI, 27 April 2001.
[39] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p.12.
[40] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p.19.
[41] Interview with Sergeant Nelson Castillo, President of the Asociación de Ex-Combatientes Discapacitados “Alto Cenepa,” Ministry of Defense, Quito, 27 April 2001.
[42] Interview with Sergeant Nelson Castillo, President of the Asociación de Ex-Combatientes Discapacitados “Alto Cenepa,” Ministry of Defense, Quito, 27 April 2001.
[43] Interview with a veteran of the Cenepa conflict, Quito. The person requested anonymity.
[44] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p.19.
[45] Email to Landmine Monitor (CCCM) from Carlos Alberto Soto, Director, FEDUCA, 7 April 2000.