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Country Reports
Uzbekistan, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Mine Ban Policy

Uzbekistan has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In November 2002, representatives from Uzbekistan’s embassy in Moscow attended, but did not speak, at a regional seminar on landmines held in Moscow. This marked the first time since June 1997 that Uzbekistan had attended a Mine Ban Treaty-related meeting. The last time Uzbekistan voted in favor of a pro-mine ban resolution in UN General Assembly was in 1997; it abstained during the 22 November 2002 vote on UNGA Resolution 57/74.

Uzbekistan has stated that mines are necessary for national security, to prevent the flow of narcotics across the border, and to prevent incursions by insurgent groups, most notably the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (Islamskovo Dveyzhaneeya Uzbekistana, IMU).[1]

Uzbekistan is a member of to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its original Protocol II on landmines, but has not joined Amended Protocol II.

Production, Trade, Stockpiling, and Use

In a 31 July 2001 letter to Landmine Monitor, Uzbekistan’s Ambassador to the United States stated that Uzbekistan “neither produces nor does it intend to produce landmines...nor does it transfer landmines.” A stockpile of antipersonnel mines of an unknown size and composition was inherited upon the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Based on past use, it would appear that the stockpile includes at least OZM-72 bounding fragmentation mines, PMN blast mines, and POMZ fragmentation mines.[2]

Uzbekistan has in recent years laid landmines on its borders with Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan. Mine use began on the Kyrgyz border in November 1999, and on the border with Tajikistan in the summer of 2000. There have been no confirmed instances of landmine use by Uzbekistan on any border since June 2001.

In March 2003, it was reported that Kyrgyz border troops had cleared some minefields laid by Uzbekistan.[3] A Kyrgyz Defense Ministry official, Tairbek Madymarov, said that the Uzbeks “stated quite clearly that if the Kyrgyz personnel dug up and defused the mines, more would be planted.”[4]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Uzbekistan’s entire 130-mile border with Afghanistan is reportedly mined and protected by a 380-volt electric fence, according to journalists and residents who live near the border.[5] According to one media report, between 70 and 100 percent of the Tajik-Uzbek border is mined.[6] Uzbek minefields were emplaced around the Tajik enclave of Sokh in the southern Batken region of Kyrgyzstan, around the Shakhi-Mardan enclave, and along the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border areas in the Fergana Valley. In early 2003, officials from the Kyrgyz region of Batken Oblast requested demining or maps from Uzbekistan after a resident was killed in a mine explosion more than 150 meters inside the border.[7]

At a March 2003 meeting of border guards from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), representatives from Kyrgyzstan called on Uzbekistan to remove the mines it had placed on Kyrgyz territory; Uzbekistan was not at the meeting and did not respond to the request.[8] Other similar requests have gone unanswered.

There were no reports that Uzbekistan conducted any mine clearance in 2002. Uzbekistan is not believed to have any formal mine risk education programs in place.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

There are no publicly available official statistics on landmine casualties in Uzbekistan, making an accurate assessment of new casualties impossible. There were reportedly five new landmine casualties in 2002; it is not known if the casualties were killed or injured.[9] In July 2001, the chief of a border guard’s outpost stated that there were sometimes “daily” casualties among the civilian population. In March 2002, it was reported that unofficial sources put the number of mine casualties in Uzbekistan at several dozen. The majority of Uzbek mine casualties occur along border areas with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.[10]

Little is known about health care facilities in Uzbekistan, but it is not believed to offer special assistance to mine survivors or their families.[11]

Since 2000, incidents involving mines presumably laid by Uzbekistan have killed or injured more than 100 Tajik and Kyrgyz citizens, as well as numerous animals. (See Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Landmine Monitor reports). Batken Oblast officials in Kyrgyzstan lodged a formal request for compensation in the amount of 6 million som (approximately $121,000), claiming this amount as the cost of Uzbek mines in terms of lives, land, and opportunities lost.[12]

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declared Central Asia one of its core regional priorities for 2003. The OSCE Ambassdor in Tashkent, Alexander Nitzsche, said this requires a “new initiative” to address the landmine issue in Uzbekistan. Nitzsche added, “Every year very many people are killed or injured by landmines on the Uzbek border with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.... We must find new ways to address this problem, to make the authorities understand what impact the landmines have on the civilian population.”[13]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 916; “Two Men Die in Mine Explosion on Tajik-Uzbek Border,” Associated Press (Dushanbe), 1 July 2002.
[2] GICHD, “Mine Awareness and Advocacy Mission to Central Asia, A Report for UNICEF,” 12 September 2001, pp. 17-18. Oil was discovered during the Soviet era, but was not developed due to insufficient infrastructure.
[3] “Kyrgyzstan to Patrol Kazakh Border,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 March 2003.
[4] Sultan Jumagulov and Olga Borisova, “Uzbek Kyrgyz Border Danger,” Institute for War and Peace Reporting Central Asia, No. 192, 21 March 2003.
[5] Damien McElroy, “Tashkent urged to allow UN aid across bridge,” Daily Telegraph, 12 November 2001.
[6] Nezavisimaia Gazeta, No. 186, 5 October 2001, p. 5.
[7] “Kyrgyz Man Dies from Uzbek-laid Mine in Disputed Territory,” Associated Press (Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan), 25 February 2003.
[8] “Kyrgyzstan to Patrol Kazakh Border,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 13 March 2003.
[9] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” 31 March 2003, available at www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2002/18400.htm, accessed 4 July 2003.
[10] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 777.
[11] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 777.
[12] “Kyrgyzstan’s Batken Oblast Tries to Collect Damages from Uzbekistan,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 5 March 2003.
[13] “OSCE Ambassador to Uzbekistan Highlights Fresh Initiatives,” UxReport (Uzbekistan), 17 April 2003.