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Country Reports
Kuwait, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: In 2002, at least 39 landmines and 2,400 dud cluster munitions were detected and destroyed in Kuwait.

Mine Ban Policy

Kuwait has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. The government has not made any public statement indicating support for the treaty since August 2000.[1]

Kuwait attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, but did not participate in intersessional Standing Committee meetings in 2003. On 22 November 2002, Kuwait abstained from the vote on UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, supporting universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Previously, Kuwait was absent during the vote on the annual pro-mine ban resolution in 2001, 2000 and 1999.

Kuwait is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines and it is not clear if the Armed Forces maintain a stockpile of antipersonnel mines. The Ministry of Defense has told Landmine Monitor that Kuwaiti forces have never used mines.[2]

The United States had stored nearly 9,000 antipersonnel mines in Kuwait, but the current status of these pre-positioned stockpiles is not known. On 5 September 2002, the Secretary of the US Army, Thomas White, disclosed that Army equipment and ammunition, including at least 7,776 antipersonnel mines, was moved in July 2002 from Qatar to Kuwait.[3] It is unknown if mines stored in other countries were transited to Kuwait as US forces moved into Iraq from Kuwait.

On 25 May 2003, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research held a seminar on the environmental impact of recent conflicts. The seminar, attended by over 120 people, included a presentation by the Landmine Monitor Kuwait researcher. The Landmine Monitor researcher also gave presentations on landmines in Kuwait to regional seminars in Syria in December 2002 and February 2003, and provided research for a publication on Explosive Remnants of War.[4]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Areas of Kuwait remain contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Landmines and UXO of different types are concealed underneath a black cover of crude oil, tar mats, and oil droplets in Kuwait’s oil field areas, which cover about seven percent of the surface area of the country. This contamination resulted from the oil well fires in January and February 1991. An unknown amount of mines and UXO are hidden under the sands in certain areas of the country, particularly along the natural sand corridors. Considerable numbers of antipersonnel mines also apparently remain hidden in the muddy inter-tidal flats of Kuwait Bay.[5] In February 2003, soldiers with the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division discovered a dud BLU-63 cluster munition on one of their urban combat training ranges in the Kuwaiti desert.[6]

According to monthly clearance reports of the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, between 21 March and 20 December 2002, 39 landmines (32 antipersonnel and seven antivehicle mines) were detected and destroyed in situ from different parts of the country, including the oil fields of Wafra, Abdaliyah, Kabd, and Salmi.[7] An area of approximately 235.47 square kilometers was surveyed for quality assurance in 2002.[8] The Engineering Corps of the Kuwait Ministry of Defense is responsible for survey, assessment, quality assurance, clearance, and educating the population of the risks of landmines and UXO.

From the end of the conflict in 1991 until December 2002, 10.18 metric tons of antipersonnel mines and 6.57 metric tons of antivehicle mines were discovered and destroyed by mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal teams in Kuwait.[9] This tonnage equates to approximately 1.1 million antipersonnel mines and 568,000 antivehicle mines.

Explosive dud cluster munitions have been found in much larger numbers. From 1991 to 2002, 108 metric tons of dud cluster munitions were discovered and destroyed. In the year 2002, at least 2,400 dud cluster munitions were detected and destroyed.[10]

The cost for the clearance operation from 1991-2002 was about one billion dollars.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

In 2002, there were at least ten reported mine/UXO casualties in Kuwait, of which one person was killed and nine injured. In January 2002, a mine exploded during a demining training exercise inside a military camp, injuring five military personnel, including one soldier who had his leg amputated.[11] On 1 April 2002, one person was injured in a UXO incident in the coastal area.[12] On 10 October 2002, three US Marines were injured when their armored vehicle hit an antivehicle mine in a desert area called Al-Adeiraa, near the border with Iraq.[13] On 19 December 2002, one man was killed in a landmine incident in the desert area of Al-Atraf, northwest of Kuwait City.[14]

The UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) also assists and records mine and UXO casualties occurring in the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait, but most of the incidents involve Iraqi civilians.

In 2001, there were at least three reported mine/UXO incidents in which one person was killed and three injured.[15]

In February 2002, the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research published a new report on civilian war casualties in Kuwait. Mine injuries accounted for 1,026 of the 2,386 war injuries and 85 of the 421 deaths. UXO accounted for 175 injured and 119 killed.[16]

There were no changes in the health care system for mine survivors from that described in previous Landmine Monitor reports.[17]

[1] The Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “The State of Kuwait will soon join signatories to this important international agreement.” Letter from Sheikh Sabah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait to Lloyd Axworthy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, August 2000.
[2] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 684-685.
[3] Charles Aldinger, “US Army moved arms near Kuwait in mobility exercise,” Reuters (Washington DC), 5 September 2002.
[4] Landmine Action/Centre for Research and Studies in Kuwait, “Explosive Remnants of War in Kuwait: A Case Study,” London, 2003.
[5] In January 2003, a team from the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research and staff of Consortium of International Consultants, LLC discovered a number of antipersonnel landmines in the inter-tidal flats at Ras As Sabiyah area (extreme northeastern part of Kuwait). The environmental conditions of this area and the muddy nature of its tidal flats make it very difficult to detect landmines.
[6] Juan Tamayo, “10 Million Land Mines Lie in Wait Inside Iraq, Troops also face ’91 War Leftovers,” Miami Herald, 20 February 2003.
[7] Complied by Human Rights Watch from December 2001 to December 2002 editions of Kuwait Ministry of Defense, “Monthly Ammunition and Explosive Destroyed/Recovery Report,” Annex A. Not every month was available.
[8] Kuwait Ministry of Defense, “Monthly Ammunition and Explosive Destroyed/Recovery Report,” December 2002.
[9] Human Rights Watch compilation from Ministry of Defense “Monthly Ammunition...” reports.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Information provided by Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, 7 April 2002.
[12] Al-Qabes (national daily newspaper), 11 October 2002.
[13] Diana Ellis, “3 Marines Injured in Kuwait Blast,” Associated Press (Kuwait City), 10 October 2002.
[14] Al-Qabes, 20 December 2002.
[15] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 685-686.
[16] Ibid, p. 686.
[17] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1,018.