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Country Reports
Somalia, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: On 12 November 2002, representatives of 16 Somali factions meeting in Eldoret, Kenya, signed the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment banning antipersonnel mines. The United Nations Mine Action Program, which had in 2000 and 2001 taken exploratory steps of setting up mine action offices in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Garowe, abandoned all such efforts because of insecurity in those areas.

Mine Ban Policy

Since the fall of the government of Siyad Barre in 1991, Somalia has remained without a central government. Somalia’s Transitional National Government (TNG), formed in 2000, controls only parts of Mogadishu and slivers of territory elsewhere. It has not been recognized by the world community, and therefore cannot accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Throughout 2002, representatives of all factions in Somalia (excluding the authorities of the self-declared Republic of Somaliland) took part in reconciliation meetings, held in Eldoret, Kenya, organized by the Kenyan government and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).[1] On 1 November 2002, Hussein Farah Aideed, leader of the main United Somali Congress, voiced strong support for a total ban of landmines and appealed that all warring factions stop the use of landmines.[2] He reportedly said, "I am making a humane appeal for an end to the use of landmines, as women and children are prime victims.... It has brought terrible human losses to nomads in the war-affected areas.”[3]

Following a workshop organized by the NGO Geneva Call in Eldoret, 16 factions, including representatives of the TNG, signed the Deed of Commitment to ban landmines on 11 November 2002.[4]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Although Somalia does not produce landmines, large stocks are believed to be in the hands of militias and private individuals. Both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines are plentiful in Somalia and can be bought from weapons markets in Mogadishu and other towns.[5] In July 2003, the head of the TNG accused Ethiopia of supplying arms, including landmines, to Somali factions. Abkikassim Salad Hassan said, “Ethiopia continues to violate the arms embargo on Somalia imposed by the UN Security Council by supplying large quantities of weapons, ammunition and prohibited landmines to its clientele warlords.” Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi rejected the allegation as “nonsense.”[6]

There continue to be charges, albeit unclear and undetailed, of ongoing landmine use in Somalia. Central and southern Somalia is heavily contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance. Galguduud, Bakool, Bay, Hiran and the Lower Jubba region are the most affected. Although no surveys have been conducted in these regions, travelers indicate that the threat of landmines is high throughout these regions.[7]

Mine Action

Conflict in much of Somalia (outside of Somaliland) has seriously disrupted mine action efforts. The United Nations Mine Action Program, which had in 2000 and 2001 taken exploratory steps of setting up mine action offices in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Garowe, was forced to abandon its efforts in 2002 due to insecurity in all of these areas.[8] In February 2003, the UN sent an exploratory mission to restart the Puntland program. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Survey Action Center hope to begin a Landmine Impact Survey there in 2003, as soon as security considerations permit. UNDP has €1.5 million for the proposed Landmine Impact Survey in Puntland and US$300,000 for other mine action programs in Somalia programs for 2003.[9] No other funds were available for mine action in Somalia. (See separate report for Somaliland.)

Landmine Casualties

In 2002, landmine incidents causing human casualties continued, but were not systematically recorded or reported as the UN-assisted mine action offices in Mogadishu, Baidoa and Garowe did not function and very little information is available on landmine incidents or casualties. Nevertheless, limited information is available. The Subregional Development Center (SRDC) recorded mine incidents in Bay, Gedo and Middle Shabelle region involving 17 casualties.[10] In April 2002, landmines reportedly killed 22 people in a three-week period in the Gedo region alone.[11] In September, a landmine incident in Middle Shabelle region killed five people and injured nine others. One of those killed was a prominent elder who was in the region to mediate inter-clan fighting.[12]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2003. In April, a vehicle traveling towards Xuddur, in Bokool region, hit a landmine, injuring three people. In Zuddur district landmines have reportedly people and animals on several occasions.[13] In another incident near Baidoa, a minibus hit a landmine killing thirteen people, including four children, and injured six others.[14]

In 2001, a total of six landmine incidents and twenty UXO incidents were reported in Mogadishu alone, in which 60 people were killed and 61 injured. In Puntland, 103 incidents resulting in human casualties were reported.[15] In 2001, the ICRC-supported hospitals treated 7,352 surgical cases, of which 405 were mine/UXO casualties.[16]

Between 1995 and 2000, 4,357 landmine/UXO casualties were reported, including 2,626 killed and 1,731 injured.[17]

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

According to the Peace and Human Rights Network, there are no special programs for landmine survivors in Somalia.[18] The health infrastructure in the country is very poor and the few hospitals available are poorly staffed and ill equipped. In 2002, the ICRC provided medicines, technical advice, training and financial support to four major surgical facilities in Somalia, including Keysaney Hospital, run by the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), and Medina Hospital in Mogadishu, Baidoa Hospital in Bay and Mudug Regional Hospital in Galkayo. These four hospitals treated around 5,344 war-wounded patients in 2002. The ICRC also assists 25 SRCS health posts in southern and central Somalia.[19]

In 2002, the Norwegian Red Cross continued to support three rehabilitation centers, run by the SRCS, in Mogadishu, Galkaiyo and Hargeisa. The centers provide physiotherapy treatments, prostheses, orthoses, crutches, a repair service, and also training for physiotherapists. In 2002, the three centers produced 597 prostheses and 222 orthoses, repaired 301 prostheses, and provided 1,498 crutches and physiotherapy treatments for 5,350 people; 216 landmine survivors benefited from the program. The program, with an annual budget of NOK 6.5 million, is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NORAD.[20]

The UNDP proposal to support the Somalia Mine Action Program in 2003 has a component of survivor assistance which includes: establishing a victim assistance policy; formulating plans, and coordinating the implementation of activities, in cooperation with UNICEF, NGOs, and regional authorities; strengthen local capacities for victim assistance; and training local professionals, and coordinating existing resources and acquisition of additional resources.[21]

In February 2002, a Minister of Disabled and Rehabilitation was named in the new cabinet of the Transitional National Government of Somalia.[22]

(See Landmine Monitor entry for Somaliland.)

[1] The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is headquartered in Djibouti and brings together Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda on various issues.
[2] USC, one of the main factions in Somalia, over the years has splintered into several factions. Aideed is the leader of USC-SNA group. Aideed’s USC is also a member of the Somali Reconstruction and Reconciliation Congress (SRRC).
[3] “Somali Warlord Appeals for Ban on Landmines in Somalia,” Agence France Press (Nairobi, Kenya), 1 November 2002.
[4] Geneva Call press release “Somali factions commit themselves under Geneva Call to ban anti-personnel mines,” 12 November 2002, see: www.GenevaCall.org. The “Deed of Commitment” is the “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban of Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action.” There are over two-dozen different factions in Somalia.
[5] Landmine Monitor has photos of antivehicle mines taken at the Barakat Market in Mogadishu.
[6] Manoah Esipisu, “Somalia launches broadside against Ethiopia,” Reuters (Maputo, Mozambique), 12 July 2003.
[7] See previous editions of Landmine Monitor for details on the landmine problem in Somalia.
[8] Interview with John Dingley, UNDP Chief Technical Advisor for Mine Action, Hargeisa, Somaliland, 10 February 2003.
[9] Interview with John Dingley, UNDP, 10 February 2003; interview with Danish Demining Group LIS staff, 10 February 2003.
[10] Information contained in a document prepared for Landmine Monitor by researchers from the Somali Research and Documentation Center.
[11] “Thousands Fleeing Southwestern Towns,” IRIN, 25 April 2002.
[12] “Landmine kills five in central Somalia,” Agence France Presse, 3 September 2002.
[13] “Three wounded in land mine explosion in southwest region,” Ayaamaha, 8 April 2003.
[14] “Thirteen killed after land mine explosion in south-central Somalia,” HornAfrik Online, 11 April 2003.
[15] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 745.
[16] ICRC, “Special Report: Mine Action 2001,” Geneva, July 2002, p. 20.
[17] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 261-262.
[18] The Peace and Human Rights Network is a coalition of 32 organizations throughout Somalia. Landmine Monitor held a meeting with members of the network in Hargeisa in February 2002.
[19] ICRC, “Annual Report 2002,” Geneva, June 2003, p. 101.
[20] Ole Trapness, Coordinator External Resources, Norwegian Red Cross, response to Landmine Monitor Survivor Assistance Questionnaire, 9 April 2003.
[21] UNDP, Support for Somalia Mine Action Program 2003, at www.mineaction.org.
[22] Handicap International, “Landmine Victim Assistance: World Report 2002,” Lyon, December 2002, p. 133.