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Country Reports
Albania, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: More than seven million square meters of land was declared mine free in 2002, through impact survey, technical survey, and clearance. Some $2.7 million was spent on mine action in Albania in 2002. A National Mine Action Plan for 2003-2005 has been formulated. In August 2002, a workshop was held to review and revise the mine risk education strategy in Albania. Albania ratified CCW Amended Protocol II on 28 August 2002.

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Albania signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 8 September 1998 and ratified it on 29 February 2000, becoming a State Party on 1 August 2000. Law 8547 of 11 November 1999 gave legal force to the treaty in Albania, but did not include penal sanctions. Additional legislation said to be in preparation in early 2000 has not been completed. This was reported to be “an objective for 2003.”[1]

Antipersonnel mine production officially ceased in 1991. Both of the production facilities have been converted for ammunition demilitarization under the auspices of government and NATO projects.[2] Destruction of Albania’s stockpile of 1,683,860 antipersonnel mines was completed on 4 April 2002, under an internationally-funded NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund project.[3] No antipersonnel mines have been retained under Article 3 of the treaty. Albania “concluded there were no justifiable reasons for retention of APM for training or any other purpose. Therefore, the entire stockpile has been destroyed.”[4]

Albania attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003. At both intersessional meetings, the delegation gave presentations on Albania’s mine action program and victim assistance. Albania’s annual Article 7 report for calendar year 2002 was submitted on 30 April 2003.[5] This contains detailed information on the mine problem and mine action program in Albania. In November 2002, Albania voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

The Albanian government has not expressed a position on the legality of transit of antipersonnel mines through its territory by a non-State Party, or on the legality of other States engaging in activities involving antipersonnel mines on Albanian territory, despite one possible instance in 1999 when Albania was a signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty.[6]

Parliament ratified the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on 25 July 2002, and the instrument of ratification was deposited with the UN on 28 August 2002.[7] Albania did not attend the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2002.

Landmine/UXO Problem

The ten-year deadline for Albania to destroy antipersonnel mines in mined areas is 1 August 2010. The landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem in Albania was described in the Landmine Monitor Report 2002. Albania’s Article 7 report submitted on 30 April 2003 provides detailed information on the mined areas in the north, their size and priority, together with maps. It states that no records of the minefields are available and that forces of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia laid all mines during the Kosovo crisis of 1999. The report states, “Although this problem is geographically contained to northeast Albania, it has a profound effect on these communities. A further serious concern is its effect on integrated border management in the region. It is virtually impossible to control the Albanian side of the border with Kosovo because of virtually continuous mines and UXO contamination.”[8]

The Article 7 report and a presentation made at the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003 refer to the socioeconomic impact of mine/UXO contamination in the northeast. The province of Kukes is described as one of the poorest in Europe, with 75 percent of the 120,000 residents being rural and surviving on small-scale farming.[9]

Contamination of mines and UXO in the northeast resulted also from the Kosovo Liberation Army and NATO airstrikes. There are also mine/UXO contaminated areas in other parts of the country resulting from civil disorder in 1997.[10]

A program of collection and destruction of looted weapons and munitions, including mines, started in 1999. In April 2002, the UN Development Program (UNDP) established collection and public awareness operations in five prefectures (Tirana, Shkodra, Lezha, Kukes, and Vlora) containing “hotspots” of looted weapons and munitions. By the end of the initial amnesty period on 4 August 2002, this program had collected nearly 700,000 items. The program then paused, awaiting creation of an enabling legal framework including a two-year amnesty. The legal process had not been completed by mid-June 2003.[11]

Mine Action Coordination and Planning

The April 2003 Article 7 report acknowledges previous limitations of the mine action structure in Albania: “Before 2002 funding was sporadic and there were difficulties in coordination due to the legal status of the structure and the limited support to AMAE. It had no dedicated funding and as a result, lacked the capacity to address mine action other than superficially.... Uncoordinated mine action activities took place in Albania since 1999.”[12]

In April 2002, UNDP started a two-year project to strengthen the capacity of the Albanian Mine Action Committee (AMAC) and the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE). All stakeholders met at a national mine action planning workshop in Tirana on 17-18 June 2002. The workshop concluded that because the impact and extent of mines and UXO were still not fully established, impact survey and technical survey were immediate priorities. Also, because demining capacity was limited, mechanical and mine detection dog capabilities in particular should be increased. It was decided that UNDP would implement a 21-month technical survey, with European Commission (EC) funding, in order to “accurately delineate all of the minefields and battle areas of northeast Albania.” The Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) already installed at the AMAE, would be optimized, with information made available to all.[13]

Donors urged Albanians to come forward with an Albanian answer to the problem. The international community expected a clear strategy for the future and well-defined priorities for mine action. The European Commission stressed that needs have to be presented in the form of project proposals, and have to be related to the Stability Association Agreement, integration into Europe and integrated border management. The role of the AMAE was regarded as vital; its capacity should be further developed.[14]

At the June 2002 workshop, it was decided to continue existing demining projects by DanChurchAid (DCA) and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) for the remainder of 2002, with funding by Germany, the EC and the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF). Also, the impact surveys were to be redone accurately, and technical surveys initiated by the end of 2002, using Albanian resources and the two demining organizations.[15]

In 2003, the focus was to be on capacity building, developing a full technical survey capability, and demining by DCA and FSD (using six technical survey teams, two flails and two dog teams). For IMSMA, an IT chief was to be appointed in February, followed by database training for staff and conversion to version 3 of IMSMA and Albanian format.[16]

A National Mine Action Plan was formulated and presented at the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003. It calls for reduction of contaminated areas (through impact survey, technical survey, and clearance) totaling 4,836,000 square meters in 2003, 825,000 square meters in 2004, and 390,000 in 2005. That would leave 181,000 square meters of contaminated land.[17]

The strategy includes the phasing in of government responsibility by 2004-2005, with a much reduced mine action program after 2005, when it is expected that only low-impact areas will remain.[18] In the 2003 Article 7 Report Pavli Zeri, Deputy Minister of Defense, referred to "the goal of freeing Albania from the effect of mines and UXO by 2005."

No quality management took place in Albania before September 2002. Therefore, from the start of 2003 the Quality Management Section of AMAE concentrated on the backlog of sampling cleared land, in order to formally hand this over to communities by the end of May 2003. After May, the AMAE was to be strengthened with an Operations Advisor from the Swiss General Staff.[19]

Mine Action Funding

In 2002, international funding continued to be directed to foreign mine action organizations working in Albania, but with more funding being directed also at strengthening the national mine action structure. At the June 2002 workshop, the EC agreed to fund mine action in Albania “as far as possible” from its integrated border management project.[20]

The Article 7 report submitted on 30 April 2003 noted that approximately $2,768,000 was expended on mine action in Albania in 2002.[21]

Mine action funding in 2002[22]

Source of Funding
Total (in US$)
Capacity Building and Coordination of Mine Action (UNDP)
UNDP: $119,000
EC/ITF: $27,000
UK: $125,000
Demining – FSD
EC/ITF: $330,000
Switzerland: $330,000
Germany/HELP: $300,000
SFMA: $70,000
Demining – DCA & Action for Churches Together
ACT Holland: €350,000
DCA-ACT: €363,700
Danida: €297,895
US: €43,500
Luxembourg: €48,000
Other: €158,900
Victim Assistance
ITF: $100,000
ICRC: $35,000
Mine Risk Education
UNICEF: $71,000


Reports from donors are not always consistent with the figures provided by Albania in its Article 7 report. The UN Mine Action Service database records a total of $817,466 donated to mine action in Albania in 2002, comprised of $300,000 from Germany, $32,752 from Slovenia, and $484,714 from Switzerland.[23] In addition, the United States reports providing $300,000 through the ITF, the Netherlands reports donating $72,206, and Luxembourg €100,000 ($95,000).[24]

The ITF started channeling international donations to Albania in 2001. In 2002, the ITF reported directing $883,913 to mine action in Albania, as contributions to the AMAE regional office in Kukes, to the two demining operations, and to cover the costs of 21 Albanian mine survivors at the Institute for Rehabilitation in Slovenia.[25]

For 2003, the AMAE budget proposed $420,000 for capacity building, $2 million for technical survey, $2.3 million for demining operations, $255,000 for victim assistance and $91,000 for mine risk education. Of the $5.066 million total, $4.48 million had been pledged by 12 May 2003. However, the AMAE warned that without further funding, demining operations would cease in July/August 2003.[26]

For 2003, the Albanian government budgeted a contribution of $1,583,600 to the mine action program, including victim assistance.[27]

Mine/UXO Clearance and Survey

During 2002, two mine clearance organizations operated in Albania: DanChurchAid (DCA) and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD). According to data based on reports from the demining organizations, they jointly cleared 450,000 square meters of minefield and battle area. In the process, 2,197 antipersonnel mines were found and destroyed.[28] According to the AMAE database, the total area cleared was 257,710 square meters; this figure is included in the April 2003 Article 7 report, which gives details of the size of area cleared and mines found in each of 32 locations in 2002. The large difference in area cleared is attributed to poor information/operation integration and lack of quality management of data entry to the AMAE database in 2002. UNDP believes that these deficiencies have been corrected for 2003.[29]

In 2002, impact surveys resulted in the release of almost six million square meters (5,893,000) of suspected dangerous land; technical survey released a further 675,000 square meters, and clearance 450,000.[30] The UNDP and AMAE reported that more than seven million square meters of land was released to the community in 2002. This compares to two million square meters in 2001 (938,000 by impact survey, 637,000 by technical survey, and 425,000 by clearance).[31]

For 2003, DCA and FSD plan to operate with ten manual mine clearance teams, three survey teams, one ground preparation machine and one dog team, and complete re-doing the impact surveys (releasing 2,990,000 square meters), continue technical surveys (releasing 1,496,000 square meters), and clear at least 350,000 square meters. The overall result envisaged was a total reduction of 4,836,000 square meters of contaminated areas in northeast Albania in 2003.[32]

Mine Risk Education (MRE)

The April 2003 Article 7 report states that most of the 39 directly affected communities in northeast Albania “were reached with MRE by the end of 2001 but people were still dying.” Physical delineation of dangerous areas has been problematic due to theft of marking posts, inclement weather preventing access for marking, and lack of resources.[33]

In 2002, the Albanian Red Cross (ARC) supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted 800 Mine Risk Education (MRE) presentations with the participation of 23,088 people.[34]

The Victims of Mines and Weapons Association (VMA), a local NGO, conducted a project for the reintegration of mine victims and MRE in 23 mine-affected villages of northern Albania. Between 15 June 2002 and 15 March 2003, the organization provided MRE to 15,810 people including 4,739 children. VMA reached 23 villages through 23 anti-mine committees and 30 villages through 30 peace activists. VMA also organized a concert for 10,206 people including 4,739 children of 23 mined-affected villages. This project was supported by UNICEF.[35]

A survey was completed in August 2002 that examined the effectiveness of MRE activities carried out in 2000-2002, primarily by CARE, VMA, ARC and FSD. The AMAE and CARE International carried out the survey in the three districts of Kukes, covering all the priority villages identified by AMAE. It covered 4.5 percent of the population of the selected villages and tried to sample all relevant population groups. The results showed a good level of MRE coverage throughout the area, with an average of 54.5 percent participation in MRE activities. Overall, of those who participated in MRE activities, 80 percent could correctly describe a mine, as opposed to only 58 percent of those who had not participated.[36]

Of those surveyed, 70 percent said that they had an economic need to enter mine-affected areas (25 percent to get to work, 24.5 percent to graze animals, twelve percent for collecting firewood, four percent for collecting winter animal feed, three percent for selling at market, and nearly two percent to go to school). Of those who have not received MRE, 62 percent reported an economic need to enter mined areas.[37]

In August 2002, a workshop was held to review and revise the MRE strategy in Albania. It concluded that a concerted effort was needed by all parties. The more remote villages were rarely reached with MRE, largely as a result of poor infrastructure. The workshop concluded that in the future, MRE teams should concentrate on remote villages in the summer and use alternative transportation such as horses and mules; villages without road access must be specifically targeted as it is unlikely that these areas will be cleared by 2005. The workshop also recognized the dangers posed by private demining and stockpiling of mines, and identified the necessity for the government to develop legislation to legally enforce the Mine Ban Treaty.[38]

The workshop also found that interactive activities seemed to have greater effect and non-media based activities must be used where there is no television or radio network. There should be liaison with demining operations, and education to prevent people confusing or disrupting demining activities, markings and warning of minefields and danger areas. The IMSMA database lacks data because of poor reporting by MRE organizations, which should be improved.[39]

The MRE strategy was revised in the following respects: to focus on the economically active 15-30 year age group and remote villages; to assess gender issues relating to women as a potential target group; to raise awareness of the mine problem nationally and internationally; to implement an integrated structure to involve all the partners (AMAE, UNICEF, ICRC, ARC, VMA, demining organizations, and village anti-mine committees); and to implement a more durable minefield marking system.[40]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2002, seven new mine/UXO casualties were reported in northeastern Albania; two people were killed and five injured, including three children. All the casualties were civilians. Six of the incidents were caused by antipersonnel mines and one by a cluster submunition.[41] A record of landmine and UXO incidents is maintained by the AMAE in Tirana.

Between 1999 and 2001, a total of 234 new mine/UXO casualties were recorded, including 66 children: in 2001, eight new casualties were reported, of which two were killed and six injured; in 2000, 35 new casualties were reported, of which four were killed and 31 injured; and in 1999, 191 new casualties were reported, of which 12 were killed and 179 injured. Of the 234 casualties, 215 were civilians. Antipersonnel mines were the cause of 213 casualties during this period. Of the total casualties reported, at least 102 casualties had a limb amputated, and at least eleven suffered eye injuries.[42] Due to the remoteness of some mine-affected areas and the fact that some incidents may go unreported, the actual number of casualties is expected to be higher.[43]

In December 2002, two Albanian farmers were killed in a cluster bomblet explosion while grazing cattle on the Kosovo side of the border.[44]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. In January, a young man lost his leg in a UXO incident while grazing cattle.[45]

The number of people killed or injured by mines and UXO in the so-called hotspots in other parts of Albania since 1997 is not known as these areas do not fall within the mandate of the AMAE.[46]

Survivor Assistance

State facilities provide medical aid and treatment to mine casualties. However, the health infrastructure in the mine-affected areas is inadequate for the treatment and rehabilitation of mine/UXO casualties.[47] The health infrastructure is run-down and lacks basic equipment. Most hospitals do not have electricity 24 hours a day and the main regional hospital in Kukes lacks X-ray and laboratory equipment and monitors for trauma patients.[48] After the first intervention mine survivors are sent to specialized facilities if needed, either in the capital, Tirana, or abroad. Although Tirana is only around 200 kilometers from the mine-affected areas, it takes more than five hours to travel this distance by road, which makes access difficult for mine survivors and their families.

Physical rehabilitation is also limited as physiotherapy appears to be unavailable in the mine-affected areas. There are only three physiotherapists at the National Trauma Hospital; all are medical doctors who received a special nine-month training program. There are no training facilities in Albania.[49]

The National Prosthetic Center in Tirana is the only facility providing lower limb prostheses and other orthopedic devices to the physically disabled in Albania. The Center is located within the Central University Military Hospital, but is available to civilians as well as military personnel. All services at the center are free of charge. The running costs of the center are covered by the hospital, however due to the economic situation there is no budget to cover the provision of material and components. At the beginning of 2002, the ICRC provided components and material for the production of orthopedic devices. In addition, the ICRC covers all the costs of transport, accommodation and a daily allowance for mine survivors and one relative during the period needed for fitting an artificial limb in Tirana. The center has six technicians; however, none have received formal training in prosthetics. The director of the center is an orthopedic surgeon. In 2002, the center produced 168 prostheses, of which 71 were for mine survivors.[50]

In 2002, the ITF allocated $16,975 for survivor assistance programs in Albania, which included support for the rehabilitation for 21 Albanian mine survivors at the Institute for Rehabilitation in Slovenia; another 30 were assessed and will be brought to the Institute in 2003.[51]

The local NGO, VMA, provides psychosocial support for mine survivors and their families. In 2002, 25 mine survivors, or the children of survivors, received training in English or drawing. As of February 2003, the VMA had 161 mine survivors registered as members. The VMA is working with the AMAE to develop plans for income-generation projects in 2003.[52]

No current programs offering opportunities for the socioeconomic reintegration of mine survivors have been identified. Since the end of the Kosovo crisis it would appear that donors have lost interest in this region and many NGOs who potentially could have assisted mine survivors have left due to a lack of funding.[53]

Disability Policy and Practice

Mine survivors are entitled to the same rights as all persons with disabilities in Albania, which includes a monthly payment of approximately US$80 (equivalent to a monthly salary in the public sector).[54] However, very few mine survivors are eligible for the monthly payment as they were not employed at the time of the incident. For the majority of people in the mine-affected areas their livelihood is based on working their land.[55]

In April 2003, the government submitted the voluntary Form J in its Article 7 report, giving information on victim assistance. The report outlined the progress made and the future strategy, which includes building local capacities in trauma surgery and rehabilitation, and developing a micro-financing scheme for the economic reintegration of mine survivors.[56] In 2002, the AMAE appointed an MRE and victim assistance officer, who is a medical doctor from the Kukes region, to coordinate activities and develop a plan of action for addressing the needs of mine survivors.[57]

[1] Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 April 2003; interview with Jab Swart, Chief Technical Advisor, Mine Action Program, UNDP Albania, Tirana, 28 March 2003.
[2] Article 7 Report, Section 5, 3 April 2002. For details of past production and transfer see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 699 and Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 560.
[3] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 51-52.
[4] Article 7 Report, Form D, 30 April 2003.
[5] Albania’s first Article 7 Report was submitted 10 January 2002, for calendar year 2001.
[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 51.
[7] Interview with Armand Skapi, Director, UN Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tirana, 8 January 2003.
[8] Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2003.
[9] “The Albanian Mine Action Program,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 5 February 2003.
[10] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 52-53.
[11] Small Arms and Light Weapons Control Project, UNDP, “Annual Report 2002: Executive Summary;” email from Jab Swart, Mine Action Program, UNDP Albania, 13 May 2003.
[12] Article 7 Report, “Foreword by Pavli Zeri, Deputy Minister of Defense,” 30 April 2003.
[13] “National Mine Action Planning Workshop” Report, 17-18 June 2002, pp. 3-4, 25-27.
[14] Ibid, pp. 3-4, 14-17.
[15] Ibid, pp. 25-27.
[16] Ibid.
[17] “The Albanian Mine Action Program,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 5 February 2003; Article 7 Report, Form F and Annex C, 30 April 2003.
[18] “The Albanian Mine Action Program,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 5 February 2003.
[19] AMAE, “Update on Albanian Mine Action Program,” February 2003, p. 3.
[20] “National Mine Action Planning Workshop,” Report, 17-18 June 2002, pp. 14-17.
[21] Article 7 Report, Form F and Annex C, 30 April 2003.
[22] Ibid; email from Jab Swart, UNDP, 13 May 2003 (correcting the data for SFMA from $1,100,000 to $1,030,000, and explaining that for DCA €1,261,995 was calculated as $1,261,995).
[23] UN Mine Action Investments database.
[24] See reports on the Netherlands and Luxembourg; US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002.
[25] ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 32.
[26] AMAE, “Update on Albanian Mine Action Program,” 5 May 2003, p. 3; “United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Update,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 17 May 2003. The AMAE Update of February 2003 and Standing Committee presentation of February 2003 gave a slightly different budget.
[27] Statement of Ambassador Vladimir Thanati, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 14 May 2003.
[28] AMAE, “Update on Albanian Mine Action Program,” 5 May 2003, pp. 1-3; “The Albanian Mine Action Program,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 5 February 2003.
[29] Email from Jab Swart, UNDP, 13 May 2003.
[30] AMAE, “Update on Albanian Mine Action Program,” 5 May 2003, pp. 1-3. DCA and FSD carried out 70 percent of the impact surveys.
[31] This calculation included clearance in 2002 of 450,000 square meters, not 257,710 square meters as noted in the 2003 Article 7 report. “The Albanian Mine Action Program,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 5 February 2003.
[32] “The Albanian Mine Action Program,” Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, 5 February 2003. These targets are greater than planned at the workshop in June 2002.
[33] Article 7 Report, Form I and Annex E, 30 April 2003.
[34] ICRC and ARC, “Mine Action Report 2002,” January 2003.
[35] Victims of Mines and Weapons Association, “Final Report,” 16 March 2003.
[36] Article 7 Report, Form I and Annex E, 30 April 2003.
[37] Ibid.
[38] “Executive Summary,” AMAE/UNICEF/CARE Workshop to develop a mine awareness strategy, 28-29 August 2002, p. 2.
[39] Ibid.
[40] Article 7 Report, Form I and Annex E, 30 April 2003.
[41] Statistics compiled by the ICRC, in collaboration with the Albanian Red Cross and the AMAE, February 2003.
[42] Ibid.
[43] Claude Tardif, Ortho-Prosthetist, “Physical Rehabilitation Program Review: Albania,” ICRC Geneva, 24-28 March 2003.
[44] Information provided to Landmine Monitor Victim Assistance Research Coordinator by Veri Dogjani, Mine Awareness and Victim Assistance Officer, AMAE, Tirana, 28 February 2003. These two casualties have been recorded by UNMIK OKPCC in Kosovo.
[45] Information provided by Veri Dogjani, AMAE, 28 February 2003.
[46] Interview (by Landmine Monitor VA Coordinator) with Arben Braha, Director, AMAE, and Jab Swart, Chief Technical Advisor, Mine Action Program UNDP Albania, Tirana, 24 February 2003; see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 52.
[47] "National Mine Action Planning Workshop," 17-18 June 2002.
[48] Interviews (by Landmine Monitor VA Coordinator) with Dr. Mark Nufi, Director, Kukes Hospital, and Dr. Behar Kastrati, Kruma Hospital, 25 February 2003.
[49] Interview (by Landmine Monitor VA Coordinator) with Veri Dogjani, Mine Awareness and Victim Assistance Officer, AMAE, Tirana, 24 February 2003.
[50] Interview (by Landmine Monitor VA Coordinator) with Dr Harun Iljazi, Chief of National Prosthetic Center, Tirana, 27 February 2003; Claude Tardif, “Albania,” ICRC Geneva, 24-28 March 2003.
[51] Email from Sabina Beber, ITF, 18 June 2003; ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 32.
[52] Interview (by Landmine Monitor VA Coordinator) with Jonuz Kola, Executive Director, Victims of Mines and Weapons Association, Kukes, 25 February 2003.
[53] Observations of Landmine Monitor Victim Assistance Research Coordinator during visit to Albania, 22-28 February 2003.
[54] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 602.
[55] Interview with Veri Dogjani, AMAE, 24 February 2003.
[56] Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003.
[57] Interview with Arben Braha, Director, AMAE, and Jab Swart, UNDP, 24 February 2003.