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Country Reports
Namibia, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Namibia’s deadline for stockpile destruction was 1 March 2003. It has made no official declarations about its stockpiles or their destruction, although it did inform Landmine Monitor in a July 2001 letter that it had destroyed all stocks, except those retained for training. Namibia still has not submitted its initial Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report, which was due by 28 August 1999. In 2002, the Namibia Development Corporation reportedly paid to demine dozens of 30-hectare plots in the West Caprivi region that had been mined between 1999 and 2001.

Mine Ban Policy

Namibia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 21 September 1998, and the treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. As with all international treaties to which the country is party, the Mine Ban Treaty is part of national law under the provisions of the Namibian Constitution. It is not known if any progress has been made toward promulgating domestic implementation legislation.

As of July 2003, Namibia had still not submitted its required initial Article 7 report, which was due by 28 August 1999, or any annual updates. It has not offered an explanation for its failure to meet this treaty obligation.

Namibia did not participate in the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2002, but did attend intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in February and May 2003.

On 22 November 2002, Namibia voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, supporting universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Production, Transfer, and Use

Namibia denies past production or export of antipersonnel mines.[1] Landmine Monitor Report 2000 and Landmine Monitor Report 2001 reported on antipersonnel mine use in Namibia by UNITA rebel forces and Angolan government forces, and on unsubstantiated allegations of use by Namibian troops.[2] There have been no serious allegations of use by Namibian forces in the past two years, and no reports of use by Angola or UNITA since the April 2002 peace agreement in Angola.

Stockpiling and Destruction

Namibia’s treaty-mandated deadline for destruction of all stockpiled antipersonnel mines was 1 March 2003. Namibia has never officially informed the UN or other States Parties about the status of its stockpile or its destruction program. In a letter to Landmine Monitor in July 2001, the Namibian government said that it had destroyed its stockpiled antipersonnel mines in 1998, except for those retained for training.[3] No information on the numbers and types of mines destroyed or those retained has ever been disclosed. The country is reported to have an unknown number of Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines.[4]

Landmine Problem

A 1999 UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) assessment mission to the country concluded, “The landmine situation in Namibia constitutes neither a humanitarian emergency nor a major obstacle for development.”[5] Upon completion of its work in Namibia in February 2001, the US commercial demining firm RONCO declared all of Namibia free of mines, except the area of conflict on the Angola border in the Kavango Region.[6] In May 2002, the Director of the US State Department’s Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs observed that if not for the “intrusion” of mines recently laid by the Angolans in the northwest corner of the country, “Namibia would be mine safe.”[7] A US Department of State report said that residents in the northern regions of Onamunama and Utomba continued to report the presence of landmines in 2002.[8]

In a 30 November 2002 report, UNMAS stated that Namibia is affected by landmines and has requested international mine action assistance.[9] According to a media report, over the last three years small-scale farmers at a government-subsidized cotton-growing program in West Caprivi have been unable to plant because of landmines in the area.[10]

Mine Action and Funding

Although a US-sponsored mine clearance program in Namibia ended in February 2001, the US said it would continue to fund “mine action activities as appropriate.”[11] It also stated, “Overall, the establishment of Namibia’s demining program is complete.... Namibia now possesses a modern demining capability and a dedicated unit of 1,000 deminers.” More than one million square meters of land had been cleared and more than 5,000 mines and 1,300 UXO destroyed.[12]

The US has been almost the sole donor to mine clearance in Namibia, providing nearly $9 million from 1994-2001. It provided $40,000 in its fiscal year 2001 and allocated $88,000 in FY 2002 for mine action.[13]

On 5 September 2002 in Maputo, Mozambique, Susan Whelan, Canadian Minister for International Cooperation, announced a grant of C$900,000 (US$573,300) for mine action projects in Mozambique and Namibia. Of that, C$500,000 (US$318,500) was to support mine risk education and landmine survivor programs in Mozambique and Namibia through the Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS) and its Mozambican and Namibian counterparts.[14]

In February 2003, it was reported that the Namibia Development Corporation had spent N$350,000 (US$33,950) during 2002 on demining dozens of 30-hectare plots in the West Caprivi region that had been mined between 1999 and 2001.[15]

In July 2002, Zambia’s president requested assistance from Namibia for Zambia’s demining process.[16] In response, a team from the Zambian Mine Action Center was joined by their Namibian counterparts to help establish the scale of the landmine problem in the Western Province. A level one survey was carried out at the end of November.[17]

The Wer’wolf MkII Modular Mine and Ballistic Protected Vehicle is a collaborative product of Military International Ltd. of Canada and Windhoeker Maschinenfabrik Pty Ltd of Namibia. It is in full series production, and about 400 are in service with the Namibian Defense Force. The vehicle is suitable for mounting mobile detection equipment. The Menschen gegen Minen (MgM) Rotar Mk-II mine clearance system is built in Namibia, and one machine has undergone testing and evaluation in Namibia.[18]

Mine Risk Education

With financial support from the Canadian government, the Canadian Red Cross Society is working with the Namibian Red Cross to strengthen its capacity to participate in mine risk education (MRE) programs and provide assistance to mine survivors in support of the Ministry of Health. The program targets 45 vulnerable villages in the mine-affected area of the Kavango region. Namibian Red Cross staff and volunteers receive MRE training from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), then carry out MRE activities in targeted communities. The project also works to sensitize government staff to NRCS MRE activities. The Kavango program also increases opportunities for reaching mine-affected Angolans in the area and for technical exchange with the Angolan Red Cross.[19]

In 2002, the ICRC reports that it carried out a mission to the Kavango region of the country to assist the Namibian Red Cross in finalizing its MRE strategy and in training staff members. Three volunteers were trained to assess MRE needs at the community level.[20]

Landmine Casualties

In 2002, two people were killed and 17 injured in reported mine/UXO incidents. At least four casualties were caused by landmines.[21] This represents a significant decrease from the nine people killed and 41 injured in reported mine/UXO incidents in 2001.[22] According to a US Department of State report, landmines killed and injured “several” people in 2002.[23]

In March 2002, in two separate incidents a man and a woman each lost a leg after stepping on landmines while collecting water.[24] In May 2002, a 15-year-boy was killed and his two companions seriously injured when a landmine exploded near the Runda Military Base. The Ministry of Defense, while confirming the incident, claimed it was caused by an unexploded shell.[25] In July 2002, one person was injured in a landmine explosion.[26] In October 2002, a member of the explosives unit of the Namibian Defense Force lost a limb after stepping on an antipersonnel mine at Mushangara village in the Kavango Region.[27] UXO incidents causing casualties were reported in February, May, June, August, October, November and December.[28] The ICRC performed amputation surgery on eight mine casualties at Runda Hospital in 2002.[29]

Namibians were also killed and injured in mine incidents in Angola in 2002. In mid-September, it was reported that an FAA member sustained “slight injuries on the head and legs” after a truck belonging to Namibia’s Roads Contractor Company (RCC) detonated a landmine in southeastern Angola just north of the Namibian border.[30] However, later reports of the incident say that “several people were injured” after a truck belonging to RCC drove over a landmine.[31] A number of Namibian soldiers have also been injured by mines while conducting military operations with the FAA in Angola. No further details are available.

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. In May, a nine-year-old boy was killed after stepping on a landmine while herding livestock near a former South African army camp.[32]

From 1999 to July 2002, landmines and UXO have reportedly killed 135 civilians and injured 440 others, with 23 killed and 138 injured in the Kavango and Caprivi regions alone in 2000 and 2001.[33]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

Landmine casualties in Namibia receive emergency medical treatment from local health centers in the mine-affected areas. Casualties with more serious injuries are transferred by State ambulances to Windhoek Central State Hospital. The hospital has a rehabilitation center that provides prostheses, physiotherapy services and psychological support. The Roman Catholic Hospital also assists mine survivors. Landmine survivors receive assistance and monthly pensions from the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Although the government reportedly has the capacity to meet the physical needs of mine survivors, assistance is needed to promote their socioeconomic reintegration.[34]

In 2002, as a result of the improved situation with Angola the ICRC cancelled a planned surgical training seminar for health professionals. However, a surgical kit with supplies to treat 100 war-wounded patients was provided to the Rundu Hospital in Kavango region. In April 2002, the ICRC upgraded Rundu prosthetic/orthotic workshop began production.[35] Between April and December, 85 prostheses were produced, of which 49 were for mine survivors.[36] A prosthetic/orthotic clinic was held in Katima Mulilo in Caprivi region for the first time and 15 people were examined. In addition, three Namibian technicians participated in a one-month ICRC prosthetic/orthotic course in Addis Ababa.[37]

Namibia has a national policy to protect the rights of persons with disabilities, however implementation is reportedly still lacking. In September 2001, the Disability Advisory Office, within the Prime Minister’s office, commenced operations.[38]

[1] Questions regarding PMD-6 mines either being assembled or produced in Namibia have yet to be resolved. See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 121, and previous editions.
[2] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 81-83; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 123-124.
[3] Letter to Mary Wareham, Coordinator, Landmine Monitor, from Gerhard Theron, Charge d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations, New York, 23 July 2001.
[4] Landmine Monitor Fact Sheet, “Claymore-Type Mines,” February 2003.
[5] UNMAS, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Namibia,” 6 April 2000, p. 3.
[6] RONCO website, www.roncoconsulting.com.
[7] Charles Cobb, "Mozambique Leads the World - in Clearing Land Mines,” allAfrica.com, 27 May 2002.
[8] U.S. Department of State, “Namibia: Country Report on Human Rights Practices,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 31 March 2003. Available at: www.state.gov
[9] UNMAS, “Namibia: Overall Environment,” 30 November 2002.
[10] Chrispin Inambao, “Cotton Farmers Miss Out on Reaping Harvest Pay,” The Namibian, 26 February 2003.
[11] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” November 2001, p. 10.
[12] Ibid.
[13] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002. For details on past mine action funding and other support, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 126.
[14] “Canada Helps Rid Mozambique and Namibia of landmines,” Canada Newswire, 5 September 2002; “Canada Aids Landmine Action,” IRIN, 12 September 2002.
[15] “Cotton Farmers Miss Out on Reaping Harvest Pay,” The Namibian, 26 February 2003. (Currency exchange rate: 1N$ = US$0.097, the average for 2002 found at www.oanda.com).
[16] “Zambia Appeals for De-mining Assistance,” GRN News, 5 July 2002.
[17] Interview (by Landmine Monitor Zambia) with Mark Singongi, Coordinator, Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Landmines, Zambian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 December 2002.
[18] Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), “Mechanical Demining Equipment Catalogue 2003,” Geneva, December 2002.
[19] Email from Karen Mollica, Program Coordinator, Africa and the Middle East, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 8 July 2003.
[20] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003, p.123.
[21] Letters to Executive Director, National Society for Human Rights, from Col. J. T. Theyse, Office of the Chief Inspector of Explosives, Ministry of Home Affairs, 20 May 2002 and 13 May 2003.
[22] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 364.
[23] US Department of State, “Namibia: Country Report on Human Rights Practices.”
[24] Letter from Col. J. T. Theyse, Ministry of Home Affairs, 20 May 2002; National Society for Human Rights press release, “Fresh APMs maim Kavango residents as stock theft is report in Ohangwena,” 27 March 2002.
[25] Chrispin Inambao, “Boy Killed By NDF Landmine,” The Namibian, 17 May 2002.
[26] Letter from Col. J. T. Theyse, Ministry of Home Affairs, 13 May 2003.
[27] “NDF Member wounded by landmine at Mushangara,” Nampa, 23 October 2002.
[28] Letter from Col. J. T. Theyse, Office of the Chief Inspector of Explosives, Ministry of Home Affairs, Republic of Namibia to the Executive Director, National Society for Human Rights, 13 May 2003.
[29] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 122.
[30] “RCC truck on landmine in Angola,” Nampa, 13 September 2002.
[31] “NDF Member wounded by landmine at Mushangara,” Nampa, 23 October 2002.
[32] Petros Kuteeue, “Landmine claims life,” The Namibian Online, 12 May 2003.
[33] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002, p. 20.
[34] Namibia presentation to the intersessional Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration, Geneva, 4 February 2003; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 130.
[35] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 122.
[36] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programs, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003.
[37] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 122.
[38] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 364-365.