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Country Reports
Somaliland, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: A Landmine Impact Survey was completed in March 2003, which identified 357 affected communities, including 45 high impact and 102 medium impact. UNICEF and Handicap International conducted a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices survey on landmines and UXO in Somaliland in September and October 2002. Three NGOs carried out demining activities in 2002, clearing 1.5 million square meters of mined land, and 20 million square meters of battle area. A total of 2,372 stockpiled antipersonnel mines and 18 antivehicle mines were destroyed in November 2002. Mine action coordination in Somaliland was seriously disrupted in 2002. Eight donors reported providing about US$5.55 million for mine action in Somaliland in 2002.

Mine Ban Policy

Somaliland is not recognized by the international community as an independent state, and therefore cannot accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.[1] As early as 1997, Somaliland authorities expressed their commitment to the Mine Ban Treaty and on 1 March 1999, its House of Representatives passed a resolution in favor of a total ban of landmines. No legally binding measures to prohibit use, production, trade or stockpiling of antipersonnel mines have been taken.

On 14 November 2002, during a ceremony marking the handover of military landmine stocks to the Danish Demining Group for destruction, the Commander of the Somaliland Armed Forces said, “The army’s move was a practical testimony to the willingness of Somaliland to implement international standards for mine action and the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty.”[2]

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Somaliland does not produce landmines and there have been no indications that it has exported or acquired new landmine stocks. Somalia’s Transitional National Government in Mogadishu has accused Ethiopia of supplying weapons including landmines to one of the Puntland factions that use bases in Somaliland.[3]

On 14 November 2002, the Ministry of Defense of Somaliland handed over 2,382 antipersonnel landmines and 16 antivehicle mines from central military stores to the Danish Demining Group (DDG), which publicly destroyed the mines on 17 November 2002.[4] In 2001, DDG had already destroyed 5,115 landmines Somaliland armed forces and police had confiscated from militias.[5] Ministry of Defense officials indicate that they have plans for the destruction of all stockpiles, although accurate data on stockpiles is not available and the timetable for further stockpile destruction has not been announced.[6]

Mine Action Coordination

In 2002, mine action coordination in Somaliland was seriously disrupted.[7] Since 1996, humanitarian mine action has been nominally coordinated by the National Demining Agency (NDA) established under the Ministry of Resettlement, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (MRR&R). For the past three years, the autonomous Somaliland Mine Action Center (SMAC)--established and supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP)--has been helping coordinate all humanitarian mine action in Somaliland. The relationship between SMAC and NDA was never clearly defined and claims of overlapping responsibilities have been a major source of friction.

In the wake of repeated disagreements between MRR&R and UNDP, SMAC’s contract with UNDP was not renewed after it expired on 28 February 2002. SMAC has now become a unit within MRR&R responsible for mine action coordination and NDA is being reformed as a mine clearance unit. With the expiration of SMAC’s contract, regional mine action officers lost their contracts and all their positions were vacant as of mid-2003.[8]

Senior UN and international agencies officials are concerned that the lack of a clear coordination mechanism and the lack of agencies with defined legal mandates will seriously hamper mine action, and donor interest, in Somaliland.

Mine Action Funding

In 2002, eight donors reported providing about US$5.55 million for mine action in Somaliland.[9] The UN Mine Action Investments database identifies the following funding for “Somalia” in 2002: Germany, $714,086 (mostly to SBF); Netherlands, $535,000 (to HALO); France, $68,719 (to HI); and Switzerland, $35,000 (to UNDP).[10] In addition, the European Community donated $1,425,000 for mine clearance, capacity building and the Landmine Impact Survey; the United States provided $1.2 million to HALO;[11] Sweden contributed $833,000 to DDG; and Denmark provided $735,000 to DDG.[12] Donors generally report funding simply to “Somalia,” but nearly all mine action activities are taking place in Somaliland, and thus Landmine Monitor is reporting the funding here.

UNICEF and Handicap International have become active in Mine Risk Reduction projects in Somaliland, but Landmine Monitor is not aware of the funding levels.

Landmine Problem, Survey and Assessment

A major problem that hampered mine action in Somaliland over the years has been the lack of accurate information on the impact in the contaminated areas. A number of surveys have been conducted, but their scope has been limited and the information obtained has been generally considered inconclusive.

To remedy this problem, the Danish Demining Group (DDG), under contract to the Survey Action Center (SAC), began a comprehensive Landmine Impact Survey throughout Somaliland on 23 March 2002. The survey was completed in March 2003. The final report is expected in July 2003. Three hundred and fifty-seven impact surveys were conducted in Awdal, Galbeed, Togdheer, Sahil and parts of Sanag. Eastern Sanag and Sool were not surveyed due to security considerations. Survey teams visited 563 communities and identified 357 affected ones, of which 45 were high impact, 102 were medium impact and 210 were low impact communities.[13]

Mine Clearance

In 2002, three international NGOs remained active in Somaliland: DDG, the HALO Trust and the Santa Barbara Foundation (SBF).[14] They cleared a total of nearly 1.7 million square meters of mined land, and 20 million square meters of battle area.

In 2002, HALO cleared a total of 19,856,500 square meters of battle area and 175,265 square meters of land through manual clearance. It destroyed 90 antipersonnel mines, 384 antivehicle mines and 998 UXO. From January-May 2003, it cleared a total of 23,377,500 square meters of battle area and 61,658 square meters of land through manual clearance.[15]

DDG conducted clearance operations with approximately 67 deminers, as well as mine detection dogs. In 2002, DDG cleared a total of 747,984 square meters of land and destroyed 37,890 items (including UXO and mines). In 2003, as of May, it had cleared a total of 857,094 square meters and destroyed 1,161 items.[16]

DDG decided to reorganize its demining teams from the traditional Two Man/One Lane System to a One Man/One Lane System, with the rationale that in Somaliland, smaller mine clearance teams could respond more efficiently to smaller tasks, especially to instances of UXO and mines denying access to water or blocking roads. The Landmine Impact Survey showed an acute need for clearance around water reservoirs.[17]

SBF cleared 756,800 square meters of land and destroyed 298 antipersonnel mines, 27 antivehicle mines, 776 UXO and 283 other items in 2002.[18] Although Santa Barbara’s funding expired on 31 December 2002, it was awarded a contract by the Somaliland Road Authority for clearance operations around eight bridges along the road between Burao and Las Anod.[19] These operations were to start in March 2003, but had not as of the end of June 2003.[20]

According to the UN, between 1999 and 2002, demining organizations in Somaliland destroyed 14,596 landmines and 220,874 pieces of UXO, and cleared 92,735,677 square meters of land.[21]

Mine Risk Education

In 2002, Landmine Monitor reported that UNICEF had produced a draft policy on mine risk education (MRE) in Somaliland, which it presented to MRR&R for approval.[22] As of mid-2003, the policy still had not been adopted, pending resolution of issues regarding the roles and responsibilities of Somaliland authorities on mine action. According to UNICEF, a draft mine action policy for Somaliland is being discussed and efforts are being made to link it with the policy framework suggested on MRE.[23]

In September and October 2002, UNICEF and Handicap International (HI) conducted a “Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices” (KAP) survey in three regions of Somaliland: Awdal, Galbeed and Toghdheer. The budget for the KAP survey was US$13,088.[24] The survey covered 634 households, collecting information on the knowledge of the public concerning landmine risk, their attitudes towards the problems posed by landmines and their practices when confronted with landmine threats. The survey found that 29 percent of the population was not able to identify the potential risk.[25] UNICEF noted, “An overwhelming percentage of people expressed the desire to receive information on landmines/UXO, in particular on how communities live safely in their mine-contaminated area and how, and to whom, landmines/UXO should be reported.”[26]

Depending on funding, UNICEF and HI plan is to develop MRE in Somaliland and then to extend it to Somalia.[27] UNICEF received in 2002 a capacity building grant of $20,000 from the United Kingdom, which is being used for a consultant to help implement their MRE strategy.[28]

SBF ran a mine/UXO awareness program in August 2002 that reached 2,204 pupils in Burao. SBF reported that after the training, reporting of hidden landmines and UXO increased significantly.[29]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2002, landmines continued to claim new casualties in Somaliland. In one reported incident in November 2002, two people were killed and another three injured in the Hargeisa area.[30] Complete and accurate data on new landmine and UXO casualties was not available. Although the SMAC was collecting and recording casualty data using IMSMA, after losing UNDP funding this activity was severely limited after 2001.

In 2001, 33 people were killed and 70 injured, including 44 children, in 98 reported landmine/UXO incidents.[31] The rate of casualties declined substantially from two to three casualties a day in Hargeisa alone in 1992 to around nine casualties per month throughout Somaliland in 2001. However, it is believed that the number of landmine casualties is under-reported as many incidents take place in remote areas. There is no requirement or procedure for reporting incidents to the police or to mine action officers.

The Landmine Impact Survey identified 276 mine/UXO casualties in the last two years, of which 92 were killed and 184 injured. Children under the age of 14 years accounted for over half (147) of the casualties. The majority of casualties, 77 percent, were male. The fatality rate was higher for males (35 percent) than for females (27 percent). Of the 184 survivors, 47 required an amputation, 18 were fully or partially blind, and the remaining 119 suffered other injuries. Most of the survivors received emergency medical care soon after being injured, but very few received rehabilitation or vocational training.[32] The Somaliland Mine Action Center database contains an additional 2,651 mine casualties from before 2000 which were identified by the Landmine Impact Survey; 1,114 people were killed and 1,537 injured.[33]

The Survey covered four of the six Administrative Regions of Somaliland. However, the highly mine-affected region of Sool has not been surveyed and the number of mine casualties is not known.[34]

Survivor Assistance

Public health facilities with the capacity to assist landmine casualties in Somaliland are reportedly minimal. Hospitals are poorly equipped and poorly staffed. Mine casualties are often treated at the Hargeisa General Hospital or at the ICRC-equipped surgical hospital in Berbera. The Berbera hospital, however, is on the northern coast of Somaliland and is far from regions where landmines are most prevalent. First aid is available and there is transport to take casualties to the nearest medical facility. However, the average travel time to a suitably equipped hospital is over six hours.[35]

Mine clearance organizations (HALO, DDG and SBF) train paramedics to work with their mine clearance teams and have medical equipment and ambulances for use in emergencies. In 2002, SBF held a 3-week training program for paramedics.[36]

The majority of people in Somaliland are nomads and mobility is essential for their livelihood, but there are reportedly no vocational training or economic reintegration programs for landmine survivors.

The Somaliland Red Crescent Society (SRCS) and Action NordSud/Handicap International continue to provide survivor assistance in Somaliland. SRCS runs a lower limb prosthetic and component manufacturing center in Hargeisa, funded principally by the Norwegian Red Cross. The center has the capacity to make 26 devices a month. Since 1999, the center has operated a mobile clinic that makes periodic visits to regions outside of Hargeisa. Between 1994 and July 2002, the center provided 1,246 mobility devices, of which 448 were for landmine survivors. In 2002, the SRCS center assisted 291 new patients with mobility devices, including 93 mine survivors. The center produced 165 prostheses, 50 orthoses, and repaired 109 prostheses.[37]

Action NordSud/Handicap International (AN/HI) runs a physiotherapy center and a low cost prostheses workshop that also makes crutches and wheelchairs. In 2002, the center assisted five landmine and eight UXO survivors with physiotherapy treatments.[38] AN/HI requires that patients pay a small fee and most amputees reportedly prefer to go to SRCS center, which does not charge a fee.[39]

[1] Because Somaliland considers itself to be a state, authorities are reluctant to sign the Geneva Call “Deed of Commitment” for non-state actors, pledging commitment to a total prohibition on antipersonnel mines.
[2] UNDP/OPS, “Annual Report: Achievements of the Mine Action Program in Somaliland,” Hargeisa, December 2002.
[3] Militia loyal to Jama Ali Jama and led by Cadde Muse Boqor are camped at El-Afweyne in Sanaag region, Somaliland. For the Somalia TNG allegations, see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 743.
[4] UNDP/OPS, “Annual Report: Mine Action Program in Somaliland,” December 2002.
[5] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 852.
[6] Interviews with military officers and Ministry of Defense officials, Hargeisa, January and February 2003.
[7] Interviews with various Somaliland and international officials concerned with mine action between 23 January and 10 February 2003.
[8] Interview with John Dingley, Chief Technical Advisor for Mine Action, UNDP, Hargeisa, 10 February 2003.
[9] Landmine Monitor identified $4.3 million in mine action funding for 2001. See individual donor country reports in this Landmine Monitor Report for funding details and sources.
[10] UNMAS Mine Action Investment database.
[11] US State Department, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” September 2002.
[12] Email from Ulrik Enemark Petersen, Head of Foreign and Security Policy Department, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 March 2003. The amount in DKK is 5.8 million.
[13] Memo from Mike Kendellen, Director for Surveys, Survey Action Center, 27 May 2003.
[14] In 2001, these three groups demined 387,944 square meters of land, plus an additional 21,172,500 square meters surface battle area cleared.
[15] Email to Landmine Monitor (HRW) from Neil Ferrao, HALO Trust Horn of Africa Desk, 5 August 2003.
[16] Email from Danish Demining Group, 19 May 2003.
[17] Ibid.
[18] Document provided by Burkhard Von Buttlar, Somaliland Program Manager, SBF, 10 February 2003.
[19] Interview with Burkhard Von Buttlar, Somaliland Program Manager, SBF, 10 February 2003. According to von Buttlar, the bridge clearance activity will be funded by the German Federal Agency for Technical Relief.
[20] Interview with Mohamed Osman, SMAC Manager, Hargeisa, 7 February 2003.
[21] “UNDP/OPS Annual Report,” December 2002. The data reported here does not include clearance activities by Rimfire (before 1999), Greenfield Associates and Mine Tech.
[22] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 855.
[23] Email from Silvia Danailov, Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Somalia Support Center, 16 June 2003.
[24] Email from Silvia Danailov, UNICEF, 20 June 2003; telephone interview with Nathalie Martin, MRE Coordinator, HI, Lyon, 17 June 2003.
[25] UNICEF/Handicap International, “Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Related to Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance,” November 2002.
[26] UNICEF Somalia Support Center, "Mines Awareness, Funding Proposal June 2003-December 2004," undated, p. 4.
[27] Email from Silvia Danailov, UNICEF, 16 June 2003; telephone interview with Nathalie Martin, HI, 10 June 2003.
[28] Email from Silvia Danailov, UNICEF, 20 June 2003; funding is from the UK’s Department for International Development, see http://www.dfid.gov.uk/.
[29] Interview with Burkhard Von Buttlar, SBF, 10 February 2003.
[30] “Two killed by landmine in Hargeysa District,” Radio Hargeysa, 1 November 2002.
[31] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 855-856.
[32] Memo from Mike Kendellen, Survey Action Center, 27 May 2003; email to Landmine Monitor (HIB) from Mohamed Osman Ahmed, Somaliland Mine Action Center, 1 July 2003.
[33] Email from Mohamed Osman Ahmed, Somaliland Mine Action Center, 1 July 2003.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Ibid.
[36] Interview with Burkhard Von Buttlar, SBF, 10 February 2003.
[37] Information provided to Landmine Monitor by the Somaliland Red Crescent Society, Hargeisa, February 2003.
[38] Information provided to Landmine Monitor by Handicap International, Hargeisa, February 2003.
[39] Interview with Florence Thun, Handicap International, 3 March 2002.