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Country Reports
Serbia and Montenegro, Landmine Monitor Report 2003

Serbia and Montenegro

Key developments since May 2002: On 20 June 2003, the Parliament passed legislation to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. Legislative preparations for accession had been delayed by the constitutional restructuring of the country from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into the new state of Serbia and Montenegro. The Ministry of Defense disclosed that Serbia and Montenegro holds a stockpile of just over 1.3 million antipersonnel mines. The Mine Action Center for Serbia and Montenegro estimated in March 2003 that 39 million square meters of land may be contaminated by mines and cluster submunitions. Mine incidents in southern Serbia have continued in 2002-2003, but it remains unclear if these represent new use.

Mine Ban Policy

The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) decided on 20 April 2001 to join the Mine Ban Treaty. Legislative preparations for treaty accession were delayed during 2002 by the constitutional restructuring of the country as the new federal state of Serbia and Montenegro, which came into effect on 4 February 2003.[1] On 20 June 2003, the Parliament passed legislation to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty and the law was published in the Official Gazette.[2]

The FRY attended the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, and also attended the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003. In November 2002, the FRY cosponsored and voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which calls for universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. In the General Assembly First Committee, the FRY representative stated that, as a country that has experienced the “extremely harmful consequences of the use of this type of weapon,” FRY “has actively joined the international efforts aimed at eliminating” antipersonnel mines.[3]

On 17 May 2002, the Engineer Department of the Yugoslav Army’s General Staff held a discussion on the Mine Ban Treaty and the engineers’ demining activities. The General Staff’s official newspaper reported that, “our side had expressed an act of good will” in supporting the decision to join the treaty, but also expressed concern that “the Yugoslav Army still has no adequate substitute for anti-personnel mines.”[4] In another article, the head of the Engineer Department, Colonel Živojin Mačužić, described production of “intelligent mines with sensor-type self-destruction detonators” as a priority.[5] An article published in November 2002, described the development of a “Pljusak” (pouring rain) system “for fast and remote mining.”[6] Despite requests for clarification by Landmine Monitor, it is not clear whether these systems are for antivehicle mines only.

In response to concerns raised by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, the Ministry of Defense wrote on 29 January 2003 that “there is no contradiction between the [positions] of the Federal Government and the VJ General Staff.... ‘Modern intelligent mines with sensor self-destruction detonators, as well as devices for their launching’, [are] something all modern armies in the world possess and they are not the subject of the Treaty.”[7]

The FRY was a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its 1980 Protocol II, but not Amended Protocol II. It attended as an observer the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 2002.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

In January 2003, the Ministry of Defense reiterated earlier statements that FRY has not produced mines since 1992, and has not exported mines to other countries since 1990.[8]

On 29 January 2003, the Ministry of Defense provided the Helsinki Committee with data on the Army’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines, indicating a total of 1,320,621 mines.[9] At the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, on 6 February 2003, Colonel Vlado Radic repeated this number and reported that the stockpile is in good condition, and stored at 23 locations.[10] Subsequently, Colonel Radic stated that the stockpile contains seven types of antipersonnel mine (PMA 1, PMA 2, PMA 3, PMR 2A, PMR 3, PROM 1 and MRUD).[11]

Colonel Radic also stated that once financial resources have been obtained, an initial quantity of 91,470 mines would be destroyed over a two-month period, at an estimated cost of €380,000 ($361,000).[12] He indicated what Serbia and Montenegro can provide for the destruction (transportation, equipment, manpower, and high standards), and what was needed (funding, registration equipment, site preparation, safety and security measures, and transportation from the 23 storage sites to the destruction site at military facilities in Kragujevac).[13]

In January 2003, the Ministry of Defense clarified that the quantity of 90,000 mines previously reported as destroyed, had been designated for destruction, but had not been destroyed due to lack of resources.[14]


Landmine incidents continued in southern Serbia in 2002 and 2003, but it remains unclear the extent to which these result from earlier deployment by irregular anti-Serbian forces or represent new use.[15] In 2002, the Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs recorded incidents involving 17 antipersonnel mines and five antivehicle mines in the southern municipalities of Bujanovac, Preševo, Medveđa and Kuršumlija. One of the antipersonnel mines was activated by the victim, while the rest were detected and deactivated. Two of the antivehicle mines were detonated by vehicles, while the rest were deactivated safely.[16]

On 23 February 2003, a Serbian policeman was killed and two injured when their vehicle drove over an antivehicle mine between the villages of Muhovac and Breznica, near Bujanovac. A Serbian official blamed former rebels in neighboring UN-administered Kosovo and demanded that they be arrested and handed over.[17] Albanian militants claimed responsibility for the incident, and threatened increased military activity.[18]

Between 5 March and 31 December 2002, ten secret depots of weapons, ammunition and other explosive ordnance were discovered in southern Serbia, including 108 antipersonnel mines and 14 antivehicle mines of various models and origins.[19]

Landmine/UXO Problem

Landmine Monitor Report 2002 noted that information on the extent of contamination by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in FRY was incomplete. The Mine Action Center for Serbia and Montenegro provided additional information in March 2003.[20] It estimated that 39 million square meters of Serbia and Montenegro may be contaminated by mines and cluster submunitions. Unexploded cluster submunitions in 14 locations account for 29 million square meters, and landmines account for 10 million square meters.[21]

The most mine-affected area is in the vicinity of Jamena village, on the tri-border with Croatia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is estimated that there are around 7,200 antipersonnel and 3,800 antivehicle mines in 103 minefields from 100 to 3,000 meters wide and stretching for about 40,500 meters. The mined area is partly covered by a dense oak forest, and partly by agricultural land intersected by drainage canals. Due to the mines, the fields have not been cultivated for over a decade; the canals are filled up and the land is often flooded. The flooding contaminates drinking water in Jamena and other villages. The Mine Action Center assumes that many of the mines have moved position because of the flooding. [22]

Serbian and Croatian demining experts jointly carried out general and technical survey in the tri-border area. The Army presented all available documentation on minefields placed in that area. However, minefields for which there is no documentation were also found during the survey.[23] In a press report in January 2003, the Mine Action Center stated that the joint Serbian-Croatian operations had established that about 10 square kilometers of land (mostly forest and arable fields, but also village roads) were mined in the tri-border area.[24]

The main locations of cluster submunition contamination are Sjenica (two sites totaling 16 million square meters), Kopaonik (two sites totaling 6 million square meters), Merdare (two sites totaling 3 million square meters), Niš airport (three sites totaling 2 million square meters), Kraljevo (three sites totaling 1 million square meters), Čačak (700,000 square meters) and Vladimirci (200,000 square meters).[25]

Additionally, there are 63 unexploded aerial bombs or other large-caliber projectiles on 45 locations, covering an area of approximately 5 million square meters. There are large caliber unexploded projectiles and aerial bombs buried as deep as 20 meters in 36 locations. There are aerial bombs and large projectiles at nine locations in the Danube River.[26]

Mine Action Coordination

The Mine Action Center was formed on 7 March 2002 as part of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Following the change in name to Serbia and Montenegro, the Center’s director expects its status and function to be redefined. The Center has acted as a coordinating mine action body at the federal level and this role will probably continue. The Center has proposed legislation pertaining to demining, collected data on mined and suspected areas, developed projects for demining, and maintained databases on these matters and on mine casualties. The Center has also been responsible for obtaining funding.[27] Mine clearance carried out by the Army is not within the Center’s area of responsibility, and it keeps no records of Army clearance operations.[28]

In 2002, the Center organized the training to international standards of 32 personnel in demining and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), ten for monitoring and final inspection, three for general and technical survey, and two divers as explosives specialists. In addition, two people were trained as demining managers and two others were trained in database management. The Center obtained computer and other equipment, protective equipment for deminers, and a field vehicle.[29]

On 11 February 2003, the Center hosted the eighth meeting of the South-East Europe Mine Action Coordination Council (SEEMACC).[30]

The Center planned to expand its activities in 2003 to include various programs of assistance to mine survivors.[31]

Mine Action Funding

In 2001, the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) started directing some of the international donations it receives to mine action in FRY. In 2002, the ITF provided a total of $299,044 for mine action in Serbia and Montenegro. This funding included a computer, other equipment, and a vehicle for the Mine Action Center; training and equipping of 28 personnel in demining and EOD; survey of the tri-border area near Jamena; and operations to locate aerial bombs and projectiles.[32]

The Danube Commission funded survey and clearance of a section of the river Danube, and Serbia’s Road Directorate funded survey of the river Sava.

In Montenegro, the ITF funded renovation and equipping of the Regional Center for Underwater Demining, and a training course for ten personnel from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia and Montenegro. It funded survey of the mine-contaminated border between Montenegro and Croatia, which was completed in December 2002.[33]

Mine/UXO Clearance

In southern Serbia, in the former Ground Safety Zone, the Army and Serbian Ministry of the Interior from May 2001 to December 2002 deactivated or destroyed 6,654 mines and 223,058 items of UXO, including cluster bombs.[34]

During 2002, the Mine Action Center organized the clearance of 3.5 million square meters of land contaminated with mines and UXO. This excludes clearance carried out by the Army at military facilities.

Slovenian and US teams visited Serbia on 1-6 April 2002 to help locate aerial bombs and projectiles. Four locations were prioritized for attention: Belgrade city center, Batajnica, Zvezdara and Avala. Disposal was due to start in 2003.

In the Danube near Novi Sad, 2.7 million square meters of the river bottom were searched, and six large caliber projectiles were removed. The bed of the river Sava near Ostružnica was also searched (800,000 square meters) with no explosive objects found. Both operations were performed by the PMC-Inžinjering Company of Belgrade.[35]

In 2003, the Center planned to start the first phase of clearance of cluster submunitions from Niš airport, in an area of 533,200 square meters. These operations, scheduled for the first three months of 2003, were to be carried out by the Bosnian NGO Stop Mines, and financed by the ITF. The second phase (1.1 million square meters) was due to be completed in 2003.[36]

Removal and disposal of aerial bombs from five locations (four in Belgrade) started in 2003, financed by the US via the ITF. Operations to remove aerial bombs from Lake Palić near Subotica were also planned for 2003.[37] It was planned to clear nine minefields totaling 300,000 square meters in the Jamena border area, and to remove cluster submunitions from an area of about 2 million square meters on Mount Kopaonik.[38]

Mine Risk Education

In southern Serbia, the joint Army and Ministry of the Interior Coordinating Body formed a group of demining experts tasked with educating the local population to the dangers of mines and UXO, as well discovering and destroying mines and UXO. This mine risk education was coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), European Commission, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and local bodies and NGOs.[39]

In 2001 and 2002, local and state-run media, with Coordinating Body participation, carried out programs informing the population about the dangers of mines and what to do. Local authorities, NGOs and others also participated in the campaign. The Press Centers of the Federal and Serbian governments were very active in this campaign.[40]

Twenty-six billboards with mine risk education messages were posted in Preševo and Bujanovac. Leaflets and other material were distributed, and 250 warning notices erected in the area of the former Ground Safety Zone.[41]

The ICRC organized lectures and theater performances for the civilian population in areas known or suspected to be mine-contaminated, including the town of Bujanovac and 24 villages in its municipality, and Preševo and 21 villages in its municipality. There were 51 theater performances in 2002 and 26 lectures, reaching over 8,000 people. These events were conducted in both Serbian and Albanian, depending on the local population. The ICRC also cooperated with the Coordinating Body and the local authorities in Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa to train volunteer mine risk educators from the local population in all the contaminated settlements (minimum 30 volunteers per training session).[42]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2002, five people were injured in landmine and UXO incidents; a significant reduction from the 32 reported casualties in 2001.[43] The ICRC recorded three civilians injured in mine/UXO incidents in 2002, including two children. In May 2002, a man stepped on an antipersonnel mine while collecting mushrooms and sustained serious injuries. In July, two children were injured in an incident involving UXO.[44] In another reported incident, on 27 April, two soldiers were injured when their vehicle detonated an antivehicle mine, near the village of Dobrosin.[45]

In January 2003, two deminers from Serbia and Montenegro were injured during a mine clearance operation in Lebanon; one lost a leg in the accident.[46]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. In February, a Serbian policeman was killed and two others injured when their vehicle hit an antivehicle mine near Bujanovac.[47]

Survivor Assistance

The FRY had well-developed surgical and rehabilitation services for mine survivors, as well as reintegration programs.[48] However, the lack of resources, caused by the economic situation, has affected the quality of health care services. In 2002, several donor projects sought to improve the quality of health care, including the supply of new equipment for surgical centers in the Republic of Serbia, which was funded by the European Agency for Reconstruction.[49] The International Rescue Committee is also working with the Ministry of Health to improve health services in southern Serbia.[50]

The Institute for Prosthetics in Belgrade is a specialized center for physical rehabilitation and prosthetics. In 2002, the Institute assisted 786 in-patients and provided 75,904 outpatient treatments. Twenty-eight disabled war veterans, most of whom are mine survivors, are permanent residents of the Institute; most are from Croatia and are refugees in Serbia with no family support. The Institute is reported to have highly-trained staff, but a lack of resources is limiting its capacity to provide high quality prostheses. No new mine survivors were assisted in 2002.[51]

Handicap International (HI) assists persons with disabilities, including landmine survivors, in Serbia. HI supports partner organizations, including NGOs and associations for persons with disabilities, with medical and orthopedic equipment and training. HI’s program includes capacity building and empowerment of local associations of the disabled.[52]

The local association, Dobra Volja (Goodwill), provides psychosocial support to mine survivors, who are mostly refugees from Croatia and Kosovo. The association has around 500 members, of which about 75 percent are mine survivors. Dobra Volja organizes social functions, including literary evenings and art exhibitions, and publishes a newsletter for its members. Activities are limited by a lack of resources.[53]

The Mine Action Center plans to expand its activities in 2003 to include programs to assist mine survivors and their families. The center is collecting data on mine survivors to identify assistance already received and future needs. The data will be used to plan a project based on these needs. However, implementation of any project is dependent on donor funding.[54]

One of the main problems facing mine survivors in Serbia and Montenegro is the lack of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. This problem is exacerbated by high unemployment in the general population.[55]

Disability Policy and Practice

In February 2001, the Ministry of Social Affairs signed a Protocol on Cooperation with HI for the joint revision of problems concerning persons with disability (PWDs) and their families. The Council of the Government of the Republic of Serbia has been established, with the active participation of PWDs, to propose a framework for identifying solutions to the problems they face and to better implement their rights. Also underway is the collection and processing of data on PWDs, which will enable the creation of a database. Currently there is no precise information available on the number of PWDs in Serbia. The sector for disabled war veterans, including mine survivors, does not have data on persons injured during the wars of 1991 to 1999, although it is estimated that there are around 5,000. The proposed database will include statistics on disabled war veterans.[56]

[1] Col. Vlado Radić, Military Economic Affairs Sector, Ministry of Defense, “Project on Destruction of APM Stockpiles in Serbia and Montenegro,” Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 6 February 2003.
[2] Official Gazette (Službeni list Srbije i Crne Gore Medjunarodni ugovori), No. 5, 20 June 2003, p. 40.
[3] Statement by Dejan Šahović, Permanent Representative to the United Nations, First Committee, General Debate, UN General Assembly, New York, 9 October 2002.
[4] Dušan Marinović, “Pending the Ratification of the Ottawa Treaty,” Vojska (weekly magazine of the Yugoslav Army General Staff), 23 May 2002, p. 17.
[5] Col. Branko Bošković, “Model of Equipping the Engineer Corps for Modern Action,” Novi vojni glasnik (military magazine), No. 1/2002, January 2002, pp. 28-34.
[6] Biljana Stojković, “Necessity of Technical Modernization,” Vojska, 7 November 2002, pp. 8-9.
[7] Letter from Major-General Dobrosav Radovanović, Sector of International Military Cooperation and Defense Policy, Federal Ministry of Defense, No. 87-10/1, 29 January 2003.
[8] Ibid; see also, Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 789.
[9] Letter from Major-General Dobrosav Radovanović, Federal Ministry of Defense, 29 January 2003.
[10] Col. Vlado Radić, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[11] The number of each type will be revealed when the country accedes to the Mine Ban Treaty. Fax from Col. Vlado Radić, 24 March 2003.
[12] Exchange rate €1 = US$0.95, used throughout this report. Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 6 January 2003. The mines scheduled to be destroyed are: 90,000 PMA-1 mines, 930 PMR-2A and 540 PROM-1 mines.
[13] Col. Vlado Radić, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 6 February 2003.
[14] Letter from Major-General Dobrosav Radovanović, Federal Ministry of Defense, 29 January 2003. FRY stated at the Standing Committees in May 2002 that 90,000 antipersonnel mines had already been destroyed. Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 789.
[15] For the original circumstances of mine use against Serbian forces in southern Serbia, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 923-924 and Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 789.
[16] Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, “Report for the period 1 January-31 December 2002,” No. 153, signed by Minister Dušan Mihajlović, 21 January 2003. See also later section on Casualties.
[17] “Serb Officer Killed in Blast,” Kathimerini (Greek daily newspaper, English Internet edition), 24 February 2003; “One Policeman Killed and Two Injured by a Mine in Southern Serbia,” Europa Press, 23 February 2003.
[18] “NATO, UN Rebut Serb Claims as Ex-rebel Warns of Fresh Violence,” Kathimerini, 13 February 2003; “US, UN Deny Serb Allegations as Rebels Claim Responsibility,” Kathimerini, 25 February 2003; “Serbs, Ethnic Albanians Brace for More Conflict in Southern Serbia,” Kathimerini, 26 February 2003.
[19] Serbian Ministry of Internal Affairs, “Report: 2002,” No. 153, 21 January 2003.
[20] The literal translation of the title is the Center for Removing Mines and Other Unexploded Ordnance, but the English version the Center uses is the Mine Action Center.
[21] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Director, Mine Action Center, Belgrade, No. 2948 13 March 2003.
[22] Ibid.; Mine Action Center, “2003 Mine Action Plan for the Republic of Serbia,” Belgrade, p. 2.
[23] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Mine Action Center, 13 March 2003.
[24] Marko Albunović, “To Work, As Soon As it Becomes Warmer,” Politika (daily newspaper), 26 January 2003, p. A14.
[25] Mine Action Center, “2003 Mine Action Plan for the Republic of Serbia,” Belgrade, p. 2.
[26] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Mine Action Center, 13 March 2003.
[27] Ibid.
[28] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Mine Action Center, No. 5812, 7 May 2003.
[29] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Mine Action Center, 13 March 2003.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Ibid.
[32] ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” pp. 19 and 36; email from Eva Veble, Head of International Relations, ITF, 30 April 2003.
[33] ITF, “Annual Report 2002,” p. 36.
[34] Letter from Nebojša Čović, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman, Coordination Body of the municipalities of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđa, 12 February 2003. The Coordinating Body is a joint organ of the Federal Government and the Government of the Republic of Serbia.
[35] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Mine Action Center, 13 March 2003; Mine Action Center, “2003 Mine Action Plan for the Republic of Serbia,” p. 3.
[36] Letter from Petar Mihajlović, Mine Action Center, 13 March 2003.
[37] Ibid.
[38] Ibid; Mine Action Center, “2003 Mine Action Plan,” p. 4.
[39] Letter from Nebojša Čović, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, 12 February 2003.
[40] Ibid.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Ibid; ICRC, “Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: Facts and Figures on Recent ICRC Action,” 7 August 2002.
[43] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 793.
[44] Interview by Landmine Monitor (Victim Assistance Research Coordinator) with Željko Ležaja, Communications Assistant/Mine Awareness Coordinator, ICRC, Belgrade, 15 April 2003.
[45] “Two soldiers injured in land mine explosion near Kosovo border,” Associated Press, 28 April 2002.
[46] “Miner Loses Leg,” Danas, 13 January 2003, p. 3; Aleksandar Roknić, “VJ Experts are Not in Lebanon,” Danas, 15 January 2003, p. 1.
[47] “US, UN Deny Serb Allegations as Rebels Claim Responsibility,” Kathimerini, 25 February 2003, “Serbs, Ethnic Albanians Brace for More Conflict in Southern Serbia,” Kathimerini, 26 February 2003; Jovana Gec, “One policeman killed, two injured in volatile south,” Associated Press, 23 February 2003.
[48] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 834-836.
[49] Information provided by the Minister of Health, Professor Tomica Milosavljević, 16 January 2003.
[50] Interview by Landmine Monitor (VA Coordinator) with Gail Neudorf, Country Director, International Rescue Committee, Belgrade, 15 April 2003.
[51] Interview with Dr. Slavica Eremić, Director, Institute of Prosthetics, Belgrade, 17 April 2003.
[52] Interview by Landmine Monitor (VA Coordinator) with Lucile Papon, Program Director-Serbia, HI, Belgrade, 16 April 2003.
[53] Interview by Landmine Monitor (VA Coordinator) with Gojko Dmitrović, Žarko Jokić, and Nikola Barišić, mine survivors and members of Dobra volja, Belgrade 14 April 2003.
[54] Interview with Petar Mihajlović, Director, Mine Action Center, Belgrade, 16 April 2003.
[55] Observation based on discussions with mine survivors, doctors, physical rehabilitation professionals, officials, and NGOs, during a visit to Belgrade by Landmine Monitor Victim Assistance Research Coordinator, 12-19 April 2003.
[56] Information provided to Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia by Gordana Matković, Serbian Minister of Social Affairs, 23 January 2003.