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Country Reports
MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA , Landmine Monitor Report 2003

Middle East/North Africa Map
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Mine Ban Policy

In the Middle East and North Africa region, just five countries are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty: Algeria, Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen. All except Qatar are mine-affected.

Thirteen countries have not joined the treaty: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and United Arab Emirates. Little or no progress toward accession was noted in any of these states during the reporting period. A meeting on landmines was held in the United Arab Emirates for the first time ever in January 2003. The meeting included a call for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty in its final report. In February 2003, the Arab Network of Researchers on Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War hosted a regional symposium in Damascus, Syria

In Yemen, legislation to implement the treaty is apparently under discussion. Tunisia reported that legislation was in the process of being adopted in previous years, but now deems existing law sufficient. Jordan and Algeria also view existing legislation as sufficient. Qatar does not see an immediate need to formulate legislation because it does not use landmines and is not mine-affected.

All States Parties from the region have submitted initial Article 7 transparency reports and provided updates to these reports in 2002 and 2003.

Three non-signatories from the region--Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates--voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74 on 22 November 2002, supporting universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty. All five States Parties from the region also supported the resolution. Eight of the 23 governments abstaining from voting came from the Middle East and North Africa: Egypt, Iran, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Syria. Saudi Arabia was absent for the vote.

Eight non-States Parties attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2002 as observers: Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Delegations participated from all five States Parties.

Every State Party attended intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003. Seven non-States Parties also participated: Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman and Saudi Arabia and Syria.


Saddam Hussein’s forces used antipersonnel mines in the lead-up to and during the conflict in Iraq in early 2003. Iraqi forces planted mines extensively, and also abandoned caches of weapons, including landmines, in many parts of the country. There were no reports of coalition use of antipersonnel landmines in Iraq.

There were reports of use of mines, improvised explosive devices or booby-traps by non-state actors in Algeria and Palestine during the reporting period.

Production and Transfer

Three of the fifteen mine producers remaining in the world are in the Middle East/North Africa: Egypt, Iran, and Iraq. Egypt has unofficially stated that it ceased production in 1988, but Landmine Monitor still regards Egypt as a producer state as it has still not made a formal proclamation.

In September 2002, Iran said it has not produced antipersonnel mines since the end of its war with Iraq in 1988. However, last year Landmine Monitor reported that hundreds of Iran-manufactured antipersonnel mines with production stamps of 1999 and 2000 were encountered by demining organizations in Afghanistan.

Since the coalition occupation of Iraq, any industrial production of antipersonnel mines that may have been taking place has, presumably, ceased. Landmine Monitor will keep Iraq on the list of producers until a new government officially renounces antipersonnel mine production.

In August 2002, Israel renewed its antipersonnel mine export ban to July 2005.

Stockpiling and Destruction

Jordan completed destruction of its antipersonnel landmine stockpile on 23 April 2003, while Yemen completed its stockpile destruction in April 2002. Tunisia has destroyed another 13,684 stockpiled antipersonnel mines, and plans to complete destruction in September 2003. In May 2003, Algeria reported that it has a stockpile of 165,080 antipersonnel mines and plans to destroy the stock before 2006. Qatar reports that it has no stockpiled antipersonnel landmines.

Algeria plans to retain 15,030 antipersonnel landmines for training and research purposes, as permitted under Article 3 of them Mine Ban Treaty. This is the fourth highest number retained by any State Party. The other States Parties from the region plan to retain mines, except for Qatar: Tunisia (5,000), Yemen (4,000), and Jordan (1,000).

It is likely that non-signatories Egypt, Iran, Israel, and Syria have large stockpiles of antipersonnel mines. Iraq likely possessed a substantial stockpile prior to coalition occupation. Israel revealed that its military has an annual program to destroy outdated mines, and destroyed 12 tons of mines in 2002. Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates remain among the very few countries for which Landmine Monitor does not have a clear indication whether antipersonnel mines are stockpiled.

The United States stockpiled a combined total of about 90,000 antipersonnel mines in State Party Qatar and non-signatories Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Saudi Arabia before the combat operations in Iraq beginning in March 2003. It is unclear if these stocks have been subsequently removed.

Qatar stated in May 2003 that it would not support any citizen of Qatar to carry, transport, or store any antipersonnel mines with the US. It also stated that any US stockpiles of antipersonnel mines on Qatari territory are not under Qatari jurisdiction or control. Saudi officials have told Landmine Monitor that the US is not permitted to use antipersonnel mines on Saudi territory.

Landmine Problem

Fourteen of the eighteen countries in the Middle East and North Africa are affected by the presence of uncleared landmines and unexploded ordnance, including four of the five States Parties (Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, and Yemen). Only Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are free of the landmine problem. Mines and UXO also affect the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and Western Sahara.

There is still a lack of knowledge in many mine-affected countries as to the extent of the landmine problem, including credible, detailed information as to the exact location of mined areas.

In Tunisia, assessment missions were conducted in December 2002 and January 2003 by Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), respectively. In Iraq, several survey and assessment projects were planned or underway as of June 2003. Lebanon’s first national Landmine Impact Survey was carried out from September 2002 to April 2003. Preliminary results indicated that 22 of 24 districts were affected by mines/UXO.

Mine Action Funding

The United Arab Emirates in 2001 pledged up to $50 million to mine action in South Lebanon. It is not known how much of that total the UAE contributed in 2002, but under the program known as “Operation Emirates Solidarity,” it has funded mine clearance, survey and risk education activities. In 2002, UAE also contributed $10,000 for mine action in Sri Lanka.

Apart from the UAE, seven donors reported contributions totaling $5.1 million for mine action in Lebanon in 2002.

Saudi Arabia provided Yemen with $1 million as the second part of a donation of $3 million for mine action activities. Overall, in 2002, twelve donors reported providing about $5.6 million, up from about $4 million in 2001. In 2002, the government of Yemen provided approximately 3 million Yemeni Rials for the national mine action program.

Prior to the occupation of Iraq by the Coalition Provisional Authority in 2003, mine action only took place in northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan). The Iraq Mine Action Program (MAP), under the jurisdiction of the United Nations, has been funded entirely through the UN Oil for Food Program. The MAP expended $27.3 million in 2002, and over $28 million in 2001. MAG and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) received funds apart from the UN program, totaling about $3.3 million in 2002 and $2.4 million in 2001. In 2003, mine action is spreading to the rest of the country. Oil for Food funding is expected to be about $35 million in 2003. In addition to that, by July 2003, donors had provided or pledged more than $20 million in mine action funding for all of Iraq.

Mine Clearance

In 2002 and 2003, humanitarian mine clearance was underway in States Parties Jordan and Yemen, as well as non-States Parties Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon.

The Royal Jordanian Corps of Engineers cleared 20 minefields in 2002, which allowed a major national irrigation project to proceed. Thirteen Jordanian army deminers were deployed to work in Afghanistan from December 2002 into 2003. In Yemen, the National Mine Action Committee reports that in 2002 seven demining teams cleared 18 known mine-affected areas covering approximately 1.18 million square meters.

In Iraq, mine action programs were initiated for the first time in southern Iraq after the main fighting ceased in April 2003. In 2002, local Kurdish demining NGOs were established in northern Iraq, and were carrying out demining activities with UN support. In addition, MAG and NPA cleared more than 455,000 square meters of land in 2002 in northern Iraq.

In Lebanon, the Army reported demining 1.7 million square meters of land in 2002. As part of “Operation Emirates Solidarity,” two commercial companies cleared 3.9 million square meters of land in South Lebanon in 2002. Syrian Army deminers working in Lebanon in 2002 cleared some 842,000 square meters by October.

No information was available to Landmine Monitor regarding Iranian Army demining accomplishments for 2002/2003, though they have been extensive in past years. NPA is advising the Iranian Army on demining, and has assisted with the surveying of nearly 600 square kilometers. The UN Development Program signed an agreement with Iran in July 2002 to help develop a mine action strategy and provide training in various aspects of mine action.

Limited mine clearance was underway in five other countries of the region in 2002 and 2003, all non-States Parties (Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman), as well as in the Western Sahara.

Limited clearance by the military was recorded in Kuwait and Oman. Limited mine clearance to maintain minefields was noted in Israel. In Egypt, commercial companies undertook some limited mine clearance for economic development purposes.

In the Western Sahara, the UN reported that the Royal Moroccan Army carried out 36 mine disposal operations and the Polisario Front carried out nine such operations between April 2002 and January 2003. In May 2003, the UN reported that the Morocco carried out another 16 mine disposal operations in Western Sahara.

No mine clearance of any type was noted in 2002 in Algeria, Libya, Syria and Tunisia, as well as Palestine. Planning for humanitarian mine clearance is, however, underway in States Parties Algeria and Tunisia. A National Mine Action Committee was established in Palestine in August 2002, to coordinate and plan mine action programs of government agencies, UN agencies, and NGOs.

Mine Risk Education

In 2002, MRE programs continued in four countries (Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen) as well as Palestine. Basic MRE activities took place in three countries (Israel, Jordan and Tunisia). No MRE programs were reported in seven countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, and Oman) and the Western Sahara.

A number of agencies, including UNICEF and Handicap International, have been conducting large-scale emergency MRE activities in Iraq following the coalition occupation, while in the northern governorates UN-supported local NGOs and MAG implemented MRE programs. MAG made particular effort to distribute MRE materials to displaced persons in the northern regions prior to and during the main hostilities in 2003.

In Lebanon, between 1 May 2002 and 1 June 2003, mine risk education activities reached about 95,000 out of 180,000 students in South Lebanon, and as many as 500,000 people total. In 2002, the Yemen Mine Awareness Association and the mine risk education department at the Regional Mine Action Center in Aden carried out joint activities in Aden, Lahej, Abyan, Ebb, and Aldhala, reaching 84 villages and schools with a total population of 95,044 persons. The organizations made 49 field visits and distributed 19,582 posters and educational games.

In Palestine, the NGO Defense for Children continued its MRE work in 2002, primarily in mine-affected areas, military training zones, and areas of confrontation. UNICEF and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society also carried out MRE activities, while ICRC did so in Gaza. UN agencies conducted MRE in the Golan areas of Syria; the Syrian government also runs MRE programs. Twenty MRE instructors from four countries received training at a three-week course held in Jordan in October 2002.

Mine Casualties

In 2002, new mine/UXO casualties were reported in ten countries in the region: Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen. Mine casualties were also reported in Palestine and Western Sahara. It is possible that there were mine incidents in Libya; however, there was a lack of tangible evidence to confirm new casualties.

In northern Iraq, 457 mine/UXO casualties were reported in 2002, up from 360 in 2001. The mine/UXO casualty rate rose considerably due to the hostilities in Iraq: during March and April 2003 the number of reported casualties increased by 90 percent in the north of Iraq compared to the same period in 2002. In 2003, through May, 493 new mine/UXO casualties were recorded in the northern region.

The number of casualties continued to decline in Lebanon with 42 casualties reported in 2002, down from 85 in 2001 and 113 in 2000.

In this reporting period, landmine/UXO casualties also included nationals from the region who were killed or injured while abroad engaged in military or demining operations, peacekeeping, or other activities; these casualties were from Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Syria, and the United Arab Emirates.

In 2002 and the first half of 2003, there were confirmed reports of accidents during clearance operations or training exercises that caused casualties among deminers in Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, and Yemen.

Survivor Assistance

The availability of services to mine casualties and survivors varies greatly across the region. In Algeria, the Ben Aknoun prosthetic/orthotic center began production and assisted 61 mine survivors during the year; the majority of which were mine survivors from Western Sahara. In Iraq, some health facilities lack running water and constant electricity, equipment has not been properly maintained, and there is a lack of well-trained and experienced health care workers. In Jordan, an amputation surgery workshop was held for surgeons from the Ministry of Health and the Hussein Medical Center. In Lebanon, more attention is reportedly needed on employment and economic reintegration activities. In Yemen, 132 mine survivors received various forms of medical assistance from government-organized programs.