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Country Reports
Kuwait, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: Demining and quality assurance surveys of previously cleared land continue. In 2003, Kuwait detected and destroyed 28,262 items of mines, unexploded ordnance and abandoned ammunition, totaling 134.3 tons.

Key developments since 1999: More landmines, and even greater numbers of cluster bomblets and other explosive remnants of war, are found in Kuwait each year and clearance operations are ongoing. In 2002, Ministry of Defense sources told Landmine Monitor that Kuwait does not use landmines. Officials also stated that the 45,845 antipersonnel mines Kuwait removed from the ground and stored for a period were destroyed by 2002, but Kuwait will not confirm if it has a stockpile of mines. Following the movement of weaponry associated with the invasion of Iraq, the status of the US antipersonnel mine stockpiles in Kuwait is not known.

Mine Ban Policy

Kuwait has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Though it did not sign the treaty in 1997, Kuwait participated in the Ottawa Process and voted in support of annual pro-ban United Nations General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998. However, it was absent from the votes for four of the next five years, and abstained from voting in 2002.

In April 2004, Kuwait stated that the country supports the Mine Ban Treaty and all measures to ban antipersonnel landmines, as well as international efforts in demining and victim assistance, but due to political instability in the region, Kuwait is still considering the proper time to join the treaty.[1] This was the government’s first statement on the treaty since August 2000.

Kuwait has been more active in the Mine Ban Treaty processes in recent years. It attended the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok in September 2003, and the intersessional meetings in Geneva in June 2004. It also participated in Meetings of States Parties in 2001 and 2002, and two previous intersessional meetings. In April 2004, Kuwaiti officials from the Ministries of Defense and Foreign Affairs attended a regional seminar on military and humanitarian issues surrounding the treaty in Amman, Jordan.

Kuwait is not a member of the Convention on Conventional Weapons or its Amended Protocol II, but it participated as an observer in the Fifth Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 2003.

The Landmine Monitor researcher for Kuwait gave a presentation at the workshop on landmines and explosive remnants of war held in the United Arab Emirates in December 2003.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Kuwait is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. The Ministry of Defense has declined to confirm if it maintains a stockpile of antipersonnel mines. However, officials clarified information contained in Landmine Monitor Report 2001: the 45,845 antipersonnel mines Kuwait removed from the ground following the Gulf War and then stored for a period have since been destroyed.[2] The Ministry of Defense has told Landmine Monitor that Kuwaiti forces have never used mines.[3]

The United States has stored nearly 9,000 antipersonnel mines in Kuwait, but with the US invasion of Iraq the current status of these pre-positioned stockpiles is not known. In September 2002, it was disclosed that US Army equipment and ammunition, including at least 7,776 antipersonnel mines, was moved in July 2002 from Qatar to Kuwait.[4] It is not known whether mines stored in other countries were transited to Kuwait as US forces moved into Iraq from Kuwait.

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

In Kuwait, the open desert areas remain contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) mostly left over from the 1990-1991 Gulf War. In addition, parts of the desert and coastal islands used for military exercises contain UXO. The most important of these areas are in and around Al Ederah and on Bubiyan Island. In early 2003, landmines and UXO were discovered in the Sabiyah area in northeast Kuwait.[5]

According to monthly clearance reports issued by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, Kuwait collected and destroyed 28,262 pieces of ammunition of different types between January and December 2003, equating to 134.3 metric tons from an area of approximately 154.6 square kilometers. This included: 15 antipersonnel mines, five antivehicle mines, 133 cluster bomb submunitions (22 BLU/63, 60 Mk. 118 Rockeye, and 51 M42 DPICM), 6,788 grenades, 3,032 RPG, 6,810 small arms ammunition items, 57 40mm mortar bombs, 1,889 60mm mortar bombs, and 1,279 82mm mortar bombs.[6] On 4 May 2004, a private demining company working in the western part of Bubiyan Island discovered Mk. 188 Rockeye submunitions. The site may have been used in the past for the dismantling and disposal of ammunition.[7]

Between 21 March and 20 December 2002, 39 landmines (32 antipersonnel mines and seven antivehicle mines) were detected and destroyed in situ in different parts of the country, including the oil fields of Wafra, Abdaliyah, Kabd, and Salmi.[8] Between 20 February 2001 to 20 February 2002, 25 antipersonnel mines and 11 antivehicle mines were cleared and destroyed.[9] An estimated 250 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines were cleared in the year 2000.[10]

From the end of the conflict in 1991 until December 2002, 10.18 metric tons of antipersonnel mines and 6.57 metric tons of antivehicle mines were discovered and destroyed by mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal teams in Kuwait.[11]

Landmines and UXO of different types are concealed underneath a black cover of crude oil, tar mats, and oil droplets in Kuwait’s oil field areas, which cover about seven percent of the surface area of the country. This contamination resulted from the oil well fires in January and February 1991. An unknown amount of mines and UXO are hidden under the sands in certain areas of the country, particularly along the natural sand corridors. Considerable numbers of antipersonnel mines also apparently remain hidden in the muddy inter-tidal flats of Kuwait Bay.[12]

From July to August 2003, the Kuwait Ministry of Defense carried out a UXO clearance program in small strips along the oil lakes for scientific research projects (such as soil sampling). The program cleared approximately 66.6 hectares. Staff included the Kuwait Ministry of Defense’s explosive ordnance clearance personnel, along with four to six Bangladeshi personnel equipped with FEREX 4.1 ordnance locators. The Environmental Chemical Corporation provided a senior explosive ordnance disposal technician project manager to perform quality assurance, and also aided in development and implementation of UXO clearance procedures and in identification of UXO. The clearance team found evidence of UXO including parts of rocket propelled grenade and expended rocket propelled grenade motor, as well as three large bomb fragments below the dry oil contamination.

Landmine Casualties

In 2003, two people were killed in reported landmine incidents. On 21 August, one person was killed in the al-Salmi desert area, in southwest Kuwait.[13] On 19 November, another person was killed in the al-Adairah area, in northwest Kuwait.[14]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2004. On 19 March, two people were killed and six injured when an antivehicle mine exploded in a scrap metal site in the Amghara area north of Kuwait City.[15]

Between March 2000 and the end of 2002, there were at least 22 mine/UXO casualties on Kuwaiti territory, of which two were killed and 20 others injured—ten in 2002; four in 2001; and eight in 2000. Casualties in 2002 included a mine accident in January during a demining training exercise inside a military camp which injured five military personnel; and an incident in October which injured three US Marines after their armored vehicle hit an antivehicle mine in a desert area called al-Adairah, near the border with Iraq.[16]

A military official told Landmine Monitor researchers that there are one or two mine/UXO incidents per month in Kuwait. The UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission (UNIKOM) also assisted and recorded mine and UXO casualties occurring in the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait, but most of the incidents involved Iraqi civilians.[17]

The most comprehensive information on mine casualties in Kuwait was released in February 2002, when the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research published a report on civilian war casualties in Kuwait. Landmine injuries accounted for 1,026 (43 percent) of the 2,386 war injuries and 85 (20 percent) of the 421 deaths. UXO accounted for 175 injured and 119 killed. These figures do not include the 1,800 injuries suffered by Iraqi military and civilians. Iraqi casualties received treatment in Kuwaiti health facilities.[18]

Between 1991 and April 1999, sixty deminers were killed and 131 injured during clearance operations in Kuwait, including nationals from Bangladesh, Egypt, France, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Kuwait.[19]

People most affected by landmines in Kuwait are immigrants, mainly shepherds from southwest Asia, who work in the desert areas of Kuwait near the Saudi Arabian border and are often unaware of the landmine threat.

Survivor Assistance and Disability Policy and Practice

There are no specific programs for landmine survivors in Kuwait. However, healthcare and medical and rehabilitative services are generally free, except for some items like wheelchairs. Facilities available for persons with disabilities in Kuwait include rehabilitation centers, prosthetic workshops, occupational therapy, psychological support, and vocational training programs. Ninety-five percent of medical services are provided by governmental organizations while the remaining portion is covered by private hospitals. Military mine casualties are treated in separate military hospitals; however civilians can be treated in a military hospital on an emergency basis. It was estimated that the cost to the state for medical and rehabilitation treatment of a mine casualty from the initial visit to the emergency room through to physiotherapy was more than $17,000.[20]

The Kuwait Red Crescent Society provides services for persons with disabilities, including mine survivors, throughout the country. The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, constitute a national level coordination body to focus on disability issues. Persons with disabilities in Kuwait are entitled to a pension through the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor.[21]

In 2002, an NGO called the Kuwaiti Society for Landmine Victim Assistance was formed.[22]

On 3 December 2003, the International Day of Disabled Persons, nongovernmental schools and approximately 35 civil society groups requested that the government establish a national fund for persons with disabilities in Kuwait, with financial support from individual and company donations.[23]

[1] Statement by Kuwaiti Representative at the Amman Seminar on Military and Humanitarian Issues Surrounding the Ottawa Convention, Amman, 19-21 April 2004.
[2] Information provided by Kuwaiti Ministry of Defense, 10 April 2002. No details were provided about when or how the mines were destroyed. For information on the collection of the 48,845 mines, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 939-940, citing Ministry of Defense information.
[3] Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 684-685.
[4] Charles Aldinger, “US Army moved arms near Kuwait in mobility exercise,” Reuters (Washington DC), 5 September 2002.
[5] “Landmines in Sabiyah area,” Al Anbaa (newspaper), 3 April 2003.
[6] Compiled from the 2003 editions of Kuwait Ministry of Defense, “Monthly Ammunition and Explosive Destroyed/Recovery Report.”
[7] Fax from Mouchel Middle East LTD (Dubai), to the Kuwait Institute Field Teams working in Bubiyan Island, 4 May 2004.
[8] Complied by Human Rights Watch from December 2001 to December 2002 editions of Kuwait Ministry of Defense, “Monthly Ammunition and Explosive Destroyed/Recovery Report,” Annex A. Not every month was available.
[9] Extracted from the monthly reports (February 2001-February 2002) of the Engineering Force of the Kuwaiti Army.
[10] Interview with Army Demining Officer, 30 January 2001.
[11] HRW compilation from Ministry of Defense “Monthly Ammunition...” reports. This tonnage equates to approximately 1.1 million antipersonnel mines and 568,000 antivehicle mines.
[12] In January 2003, a team from the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research and staff of Consortium of International Consultants, LLC discovered a number of antipersonnel landmines in the inter-tidal flats at Ras As Sabiyah area (extreme northeastern part of Kuwait). The environmental conditions of this area and the muddy nature of its tidal flats make it very difficult to detect landmines.
[13] “Land mine killed a person at Salmi area,” Al Qabes (daily newspaper), 22 August 2003.
[14] “Mine accident in Al Adairah, NW of the country,” Al Qabes, 21 November 2003.
[15] “Big explosion in Amghara area (6 victims),”Al Qabes, 20 March 2004.
[16] For more details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 626; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 685-686; and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1017.
[17] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 686; and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1017.
[18] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 686.
[19] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 943; and Kuwaiti MOD, reports on mine and ammunition clearance, 1999.
[20] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1018; and Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 943.
[21] Ibid.
[22] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 686.
[23] “Helping handicapped in Kuwait,” Al Qabes, 5 December 2003.