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Country Reports
Georgia, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: There continue to be reports of use of antipersonnel mines by Georgian military forces. Georgia strongly denies all allegations of use. NATO has agreed to provide assistance for clearance around both Georgian military sites and former Soviet military bases. In 2002, 70 new landmine/UXO casualties were recorded in Georgia.

Mine Ban Policy

Georgia has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty, but it has frequently expressed support for a global ban on antipersonnel mines. In a July 2002 letter to Landmine Monitor, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Merab Antadze, said Georgia “attaches great importance to the issue of banning antipersonnel mines” and expressed support for the “noble goal [of a] mine-free world.”[1] Another official has said, “Georgia is...convinced that the human and social costs of antipersonnel mines far outweigh their military value.”[2]

In a July 2003 letter to Landmine Monitor, the First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, David Aptsiauri, expressed appreciation for ICBL activities aimed at “the noble goal to make the world free of landmines.” He stated that Georgia “fully shares the concern of the international community regarding the challenge of anti-personnel landmines” and it “does its utmost to...facilitate the process of elimination and eradication of the above-mentioned threat.”[3]

Georgia states that it is unable to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty at this time because it has no jurisdiction over mined areas in Abkhazia and Samachablo, and because it would have difficulty clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) left by the forces of the former Soviet Union and Russia.[4] Georgia has said that “without financial and technological assistance, Georgia will not be able to fulfill its obligations” under the Mine Ban Treaty.[5]

Georgia attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2002 and participated in the February 2003 intersessional Standing Committee meetings. On 22 November 2002, Georgia voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, supporting universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it has on similar resolutions in previous years.

Georgia is party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its original Protocol II, but it has not ratified Amended Protocol II on landmines. In December 2002 Georgia attended the Fourth Annual Conference of State Parties to Amended Protocol II.

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

Officials continue to state that Georgia has never produced, exported, or imported antipersonnel landmines since independence. Georgia inherited what is believed to be a small stockpile of antipersonnel mines from the former Soviet Union. The exact size and composition of that stock remains unknown.[6]

In 2002, Russia began to destroy its obsolete ammunition and landmine stocks in Georgia. Russian landmines are believed to be stockpiled at three military bases in Georgia.[7] On 15 March 2002, Russia reportedly destroyed 500 mines stored at its former base at Sagarejo. Ammunition stockpiles at Sagarejo are estimated to be in excess of 100,000 tons; 35,000 tons of ammunition was transferred to Gumri, Armenia as the result of a Georgian-Armenian agreement.[8]


Georgia has had an official moratorium on the use of antipersonnel mines in place since September 1996.[9] However, in February 2002, a representative of the Ministry of Defense admitted that in 2001, Georgian Armed Forces laid antipersonnel mines in several passes in the Kodori gorge near Abkhazia.[10] In July 2002, the Defense official confirmed this information, including that Georgian forces used antipersonnel mines, not antivehicle mines.[11]

A press report in July 2002 stated that, “Georgian frontier guards blew up while laying mines in the upper Kodori gorge of Abkhazia,” and noted that one guard died and another was seriously wounded. It said that a press release from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peacekeepers office stated that “the staff of Georgian Border Protection Department are laying mines in the upper part of the Kodori gorge...in particular the territory between the 107th post of CIS peacekeepers and the village of Kvabchara.” Georgia’s Defense Minister reportedly requested that Russian peacekeepers provide timely evacuation of the servicemen.[12]

In March 2003, Emzar Kvitciani, a representative of the President of Georgia in Kodori, announced that the “main direction of Kodori gorge, the nearby territory of the village Kvabchara and other territories, are permanently mined.... Georgians demine the territory just before Russian peacekeepers and United Nations military observers enter the territory for patrolling and just after their leaving, they mine it again. Abkhazians in their turn have mined the Marukhi pass.”[13] He reiterated those remarks a few days later in an interview with the ICBL Georgian Committee.[14]

In June 2003, the senior defense official in Abkhazia told Landmine Monitor that in mid-2002, troops from both Abkhazia and Georgia mined areas around the Marukh mountain pass.[15]

In response to inquiries from the ICBL Georgian Committee, representatives of the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs denied that Georgia had placed new mines in the Kodori area. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, “Mr. Kvitciani categorically denied the disseminated information on antipersonnel mines usage in Kodori gorge by Georgian governmental foundations. Due to the explanation of representative of President, the correspondent of Akhali Taoba (New Generation) made the wrong interpretation of his announcement on the implemented activities on liquidation of territories mined in the result of conflict.”[16] According to the Ministry of Defense, the “elements of armed Forces of Ministry of Defense of Georgia have never used forbidden military weapon. Concerning the interview of Mr. Emzar Kvitciani, in our conversation was revealed that the correspondent of the newspaper, maybe, understood in wrong way, the information of Mr. Kvitciani, what caused the mistaken enlightening of materials on ‘permanent mining.’”[17]

When informed that Landmine Monitor had received allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by Georgian forces, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs replied in July 2003, “I would like to assure you that since 1996 (when President of Georgia H.E. Eduard Shevardnadze declared unilateral moratorium on use, import and export of antipersonnel mines) onward Georgian corresponding agencies have been strictly abstaining from usage of antipersonnel landmines.”[18]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Mines and unexploded ordnance pose dangers to civilians in Georgia mainly in areas near Abkhazia and near Russian military bases. (See separate Landmine Monitor report on Abkhazia). Responsibility for mine clearance in the zone of military actions and at military bases is entrusted to the Ministry of Defense, whereas the Ministry of Internal Affairs is responsible for populated areas, roads, and railroads, and the Department of Border Guards is responsible for border areas.

The United States has provided $2.7 million in demining assistance to Georgia since 1998. The US transferred demining equipment to Georgia in 2001 and 2002 and trained 20 Georgians as demining instructors, who have in turn trained 34 others, giving Georgia a force of 54 trained deminers.[19] In its fiscal year 2002, the US provided $1.1 million in demining assistance to Georgia, the bulk of which went to support the HALO Trust mine clearance operations in Abkhazia, while the remainder was used to purchase mine detectors, body armor, and vehicles.[20] In 2003, the demining program will continue to address the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance from the civil conflict in and around the Abkhazian region of Georgia.

In 2002, the Netherlands provided $376,015 to mine action in Georgia, Germany donated $160,040, and the UK donated $487,500.[21]

On 1 October 2002, Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Irakli Menagarishvili, and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) signed a memorandum of understanding on logistic cooperation, which opens the way for the implementation of a Partnership for Peace Trust Fund Project to demilitarize and disposal of missile stockpiles at Georgian military sites.[22] Under the agreement, NATO will provide material assistance and training to carry out the safe disposal of missile stockpiles and the clean up of a former military site close to Tbilisi.[23] The local demining organization “Jani” (a group of former Georgian military engineers) will clear this 10,000-hectare site, which will then be handed over to the local population for agricultural use.[24] The €1,250,000 project will be financially supported by Luxembourg, the lead nation for the project, and other NATO and partner countries, while Georgian authorities will contribute in kind support.[25]

HALO conducted a Level One Survey of mined areas surrounding three Russian military bases in Georgia during June 2002. The survey determined that the areas were mined, but were fenced with barbed wire and guarded by military personnel and did not constitute any immediate humanitarian threat. With assistance from HALO, “Jani” developed a funding proposal to clear these mines areas; NATO subsequently agreed to support the proposal.[26]

Mine Risk Education

Other than in Abkhazia, there are no formal governmental or nongovernmental mine risk education (MRE) programs. The Minister of Education claims a decree was issued in 2001 requiring all secondary schools to teach a course on “Extreme Situations and Civic Defense.” The Minister also said that such courses had been taught since 1995 during primary military training and in secondary schools in mountain and border regions, in addition to one day a year devoted to mass defense activities.[27] The ICBL Georgian Committee conducted a school program survey in Tbilisi and discovered that some schools teach limited mine risk education, but teachers stated that they do not have any manuals or materials to conduct MRE lessons.[28]

Landmine Casualties

In 2002, the ICBL Georgian Committee collected data on 70 new casualties in Georgia caused by landmines, UXO, or improvised explosive devices: 30 people were killed, including four children, and 40 were injured, including seven children. Six of the casualties were members of the Georgian Armed Forces and two were Russian peacekeepers.[29]

In 2001, the ICBL Georgian Committee collected data on 98 new casualties (34 killed and 64 injured).

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. In April, three Georgian soldiers were injured in a landmine explosion during a US-sponsored training exercise.[30]

There are no comprehensive official statistics on the number of people killed or injured by landmines and UXO in Georgia.

Survivor Assistance

Hospitals throughout Georgia, including in Abkhazia, routinely run short of basic medical supplies due to a lack of funding, and specialized rehabilitation and psychological support appears to remain inaccessible, or unavailable, for many mine survivors.[31]

The ICRC regularly provides equipment, supplies, and medicine to Zugdidi Republican Hospital, Sukhum Republican Hospital, Agudzera and Tkvarcheli hospitals, two facilities in Darcheli and Jvari, and the Gali and Ochamchira hospitals received first aid supplies. In 2002, 779 surgical procedures were performed in western Georgia, including three for landmine casualties, and in the Abkhazia region 1,362 operations were performed, including 14 for mine casualties.[32] In October 2002, seven surgeons from Georgia, including two from Abkhazia, attended an ICRC seminar on war surgery in Moscow.[33]

The ICRC, in collaboration with local authorities, supports two prosthetic/orthotic centers in Tbilisi and Gagra. The centers are the only major facilities available for physical rehabilitation in Georgia. In 2002, the centers produced 478 prostheses, 968 orthoses, repaired 81 prostheses, and distributed 42 wheelchairs, and 398 pairs of crutches; 120 prostheses were for mine survivors. The Tbilisi Orthopedic Center had 458 amputees on its waiting list as at the end of December 2002.[34] In May 2002, one technician was sent to Germany for a three-month upgrading course in prosthetics and orthotics.[35]

The Ministry of Labor, Health, and Social Affairs has developed a special program, “Medical and Psycho-Social program for Invalids,” for the care and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities at rehabilitation centers in Tbilisi, Kutaisi, and Batumi.[36] Under the program outpatient treatment was provided to 13,248 people, prosthetic/orthopedic assistance was given to 465 people, 153 people received a re-qualification course, and 412 people benefited from consultations on their legal rights.[37] It is not known if any landmine survivors were assisted. In 2002, the budget for the program was US$100,000 (222,000 Georgian Lary); part of the budget, US$25,000 (55,500 Georgian Lary), was provided for the ICRC Orthopedic Center and US$75,000 (166,500 Georgian Lary) to the Social Rehabilitation Center for the Disabled.[38]

[1] Letter to Landmine Monitor (Mary Wareham, Coordinator) from Merab Antadze, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, 19 July 2002.
[2] Statement by Vakhtang Chkhaidze, Military-Political Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at an ICRC Seminar on Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War, Moscow, 4 November 2002.
[3] Letter to Landmine Monitor (Mary Wareham, Coordinator) from David Aptsiauri, First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 July 2003.
[4] Interview with a representative of the Ministry of Defense, Tbilisi, 6 February 2002. The representative also provided written answers to questions submitted by Landmine Monitor. One written answer stated: “There do still exist the mined territories in Abkhazia and Samachablo, on which do not apply the jurisdiction of Georgia and naturally on these territories Georgia cannot carry out monitoring nor demining works. Besides on the territory of Georgia there are hundreds of military objects left by forces of former Soviet Union and Russia, objects where are set mines, explosive substances and the sources which cause various professional diseases, and in the budget of the state and the Defense Ministry of Georgia there were not foreseen the means for liquidation of sources of danger.”
[5] Note Verbale from the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), FSC. DEL/12/01, 17 January 2001.
[6] Information provided to the ICBL Georgian Committee by the Ministry of Defense, 6 February 2002.
[7] As reported in Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 878, mines are at Sagarejo, Batumi, and Akhalkalaki bases.
[8] “Explosion of firing equipment in Vaziani continues,” Akhali Taoba (New Generation), 29 July 2002, No. 206, p. 8; “Soon in Georgia will close several military sites,” Akhali Taoba, 13 December 2002, No 343, p. 8.
[9] The moratorium was proclaimed by President Shevardnadze at the United Nations in September 1996 and has been repeated by officials many times since. See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 792, and Note Verbale to the OSCE, 17 January 2001.
[10] Interview with a representative of the Ministry of Defense, Tbilisi, 6 February 2002. The use of mines was confirmed in his written answers to questions submitted by Landmine Monitor. He also stated mines were used in the Pankisi gorge.
[11] Telephone interviews with a Ministry of Defense official, Tblisi, 23 and 24 July 2002. He stated that the areas where the antipersonnel mines were laid are inaccessible to vehicles.
[12] “Georgian frontier guards blown up on a mine in the upper Kodori gorge,” Caucasus Press (Sukhumi), 2 July 2002.
[13] “Kodori main direction is permanently mined,” Akhali Taoba, No. 74, 17 March 2003, p. 7.
[14] ICBL (Georgian Committee) interview with Emzar Kvitciani, representative of President of Georgia in Kodori, 23 March 2003.
[15] Landmine Monitor (Abkhazia) interview with Vyacheslav Eshba, Minister of Defense of Abkhazia, Sukhum, 23 June 2003.
[16] Letter to ICBL Georgia Committee from Shota Dogonadze, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, #8-14/621, 23 May 2003.
[17] Letter to ICBL Georgia Committee from Major General Loria, Head of Logistics Management Center, Ministry of Defense, #3-11/814, 30 May 2003.
[18] Letter from David Aptsiauri, First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 July 2003.
[19] US Department of State, “Humanitarian Mine Action Subgroup Minutes of June 14, 2002.”
[20] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002.
[21] UN Mine Action Investments database.
[22] NATO press release, “NAMSA Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Georgia on Logistics Support for Demilitarization,” 2 October 2002.
[23] NATO press release, “NATO to help destroy munitions and clean up military sites in Georgia,” 2 October 2002.
[24] NATO press release, “Signature of a Memorandum on Logistic Cooperation between Georgia and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Organization on Demilitarization and Disposal of Missile Stockpiles and the Remediation of Georgian Military Sites,” 2 October 2002.
[25] NATO, “NATO to help destroy munitions in Georgia,” 2 October 2002.
[26] Email to ICBL (Georgia Committee) from Tim Turner, Program Manager, HALO Trust, Abkhazia, Georgia, 28 October 2002.
[27] Letter to ICBL (Georgian Committee) from A. Kartozia, Minister of Education, 11 October 2001.
[28] Results of School Program Survey conducted by ICBL Georgian Committee, October 2002.
[29] The ICBL Georgian Committee collects data on incidents from hospitals and media reports and records the information in a database.
[30] “Three Georgian soldiers wounded in US training exercises,” Agence France Presse, 16 April 2003.
[31] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 826.
[32] ICRC, “Georgia: January 2003,” Operational Update, 6 May 2003, p. 4, available at www.icrc.org.
[33] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003, p. 251.
[34] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Program, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003; statistics provided by ICRC Mission in Tbilisi, 17 March 2003.
[35] ICRC, “Georgia: January 2003,” Operational Update, 6 May 2003, p. 5.
[36] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 883-884.
[37] Letter to ICBL (Georgia Committee) from L. Topuridze, Head of Political Department, Health Protection Ministry of Georgia, 4 June 2002.
[38] Interview with Marina Gudushauri, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, 7 February 2002.