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Country Reports
Namibia, Landmine Monitor Report 2004


Key developments since May 2003: Namibia submitted its initial Article 7 Report, due by 28 August 1999, on 7 July 2004. In this report, Namibia indicated that in 1998, it had destroyed 21,857 mines, and retains 9,999 for training and development purposes. Prior to 2004, Namibia had made no official declarations about its stockpile, even though its treaty deadline for destruction was 1 March 2003. Namibia reported in 2004 that plans are underway to draft national implementation legislation. In June 2004, Namibia stated that the country is “mine safe,” but noted that clearance units were still “vigorously hunting” for UXO in the Northern regions of the country. During 2003, the Namibian Red Cross Society conducted a mine risk education program in the northern Kavango region.

Key developments since 1999: Namibia became a State Party on 1 March 1999. It has not enacted domestic implementation legislation, but reported in 2004 that it plans to do so. Namibia submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report nearly five years late, in July 2004. Namibia’s treaty-mandated deadline for stockpile destruction was 1 March 1999; it did not inform States Parties that it had met this obligation (in 1998) until 2004. Angolan UNITA rebels and Angolan government troops used landmines inside Namibia, prior to the peace accords of 2002. Allegations of use by Namibian forces were not substantiated. The ICBL expressed concerns that Namibia could have been “assisting“ Angolan government troops with mine use during their joint military operations, which is a treaty violation, but Namibia denied such actions.

Upon completion of its work in Namibia in February 2001, the US commercial demining firm RONCO declared Namibia free of mines, except the area of conflict on the Angola border in the Kavango Region. The US reported that ten known minefields, 410 electric pylons and more than one million square meters of land had been cleared, and more than 5,000 mines and 1,300 UXO destroyed. The ICRC and partners initiated a new mine risk education project in Namibia in 2002. Since 1999, there has been a significant decrease in the number of reported mine/UXO casualties from 140 mine/UXO casualties in 2000, to 50 casualties in 2001, 19 in 2002, and 12 in 2003.

Mine Ban Policy

Namibia was active in the Ottawa Process, although it did not participate in the Oslo treaty negotiations. Namibia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 21 September 1998, and the treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999. The Namibian Campaign to Ban Landmines (NCBL) and Namibian Red Cross lobbied the government to sign, ratify and implement the treaty.[1] Namibia has voted in favor of every pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution since 1996, including UNGA Resolution 58/53 on 8 December 2003.

As with all international treaties to which the country is party, the Mine Ban Treaty is part of national law under the provisions of the Namibian Constitution.[2] However, in a statement addressed to the Standing Committee meeting on stockpile destruction in February 2004, Namibia said that plans were underway to draft legislation consistent with Article 9; this was also reported in Namibia’s Article 7 report submitted in July 2004.[3]

On 7 July 2004, Namibia submitted its initial Article 7 Report, which had been due by 28 August 1999.[4] Oddly, the report cites the reporting period as February 1998 to May 1998. Namibia has never provided an explanation for the delay in producing this report.

Namibia participated in the First and Fifth Meetings of States Parties, in Maputo, Mozambique (1999), and Bangkok, Thailand (2003), respectively, and has only attended intersessional Standing Committee meetings since 2003. Regionally, Namibia has attended seminars on landmines held in Mali in 2001 and Angola in June 2002.

Namibia has not engaged in the extensive discussions that States Parties have had on matters of interpretation and implementation related to Articles 1, 2, and 3. These discussions focus on the issues of joint military operations with non-States Parties, foreign stockpiling and transit of antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes or antihandling devices, and the permissible number of mines retained for training.

In 2001, Landmine Monitor expressed concern that Namibia could be in violation of Article 1 of the Mine Ban Treaty if it was “assisting” Angolan forces that might be using antipersonnel mines in joint operations.[5] Moreover, Namibia could be in violation if it were to permit the transfer, stockpiling or use of antipersonnel mines on its territory by Angolan forces.

In response to a Landmine Monitor letter of 25 May 2001, expressing concern about Namibia’s possible violation of Article 1 regarding assistance, the Namibian government responded, “Since the ratification of the [Mine Ban Treaty], the Namibian Defence Force has never used anti-personnel mines or assisted any other forces in the use thereof, both in its internal and international military operations.... The Government of the Republic of Namibia...denies any use or assistance to use anti-personnel mines by its forces. Such an allegation would thus lack any factual basis.”[6] The government has also stated that the Angolan army is “prohibited from transiting weapons like mines through Namibia.”[7]

Namibia is not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Production, Transfer and Use

Namibia denies past production or export of antipersonnel mines.[8] It says that it obtained its mines as “left-overs during the liberation struggle.”[9] In 2000 and 2001, Landmine Monitor reported on antipersonnel mine use in Namibia by UNITA rebel forces and Angolan government forces, and on unsubstantiated allegations of use by Namibian troops.[10] There have been no serious allegations of use by Namibian forces, and no reports of use by the Angolan government or UNITA, since the April 2002 peace agreement in Angola.

Stockpiling and Destruction

The extent of Namibia’s antipersonnel mine stockpile only became known with the release of its initial Article 7 report on 7 July 2004. Namibia declared that, prior to destruction, it had 31,856 antipersonnel mines in stock; it destroyed 21,857 and retained the other 9,999.[11] Destruction took place at the Oshivello Training Area, using open detonation with a “safe distance observed.”[12] There is no date of destruction given in the report, other than the reporting period of February to May 1998. However, in February 2004, at the intersessional meetings in Geneva, Namibia stated that it had “destroyed all its stockpiles of anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance from its stores in May 1998,” except for “a very limited number of anti-personnel mines ... for research and development, training in mine detection, mine clearance and destruction techniques.”[13]

According to the Article 7 report, Namibia‘s stockpiles were comprised of 298 PPM-2, 100 OZM-72, 41 PROM-1, 3,720 PMN, 777 POMZ-2, 7,364 POMZ-2M, 19,412 PMD-6, 22 Claymore and 122 “Mine Sharpener” mines. Namibia destroyed 2,216 PMN, 477 POMZ-2, 3,454 POMZ-2M and 15,710 PMD-6 mines. The Article 7 report did not provide details of the origins of the mines. In 1999, Landmine Monitor reported that 25 types of antipersonnel mines, sourced from nine countries, had been identified in Namibia.[14]

In January 2001, the Namibian Defence Force (NDF) undertook a military operation that targeted a number of UNITA bases and depots inside Angola, seizing a large assortment of weaponry, including more than 600 antipersonnel mines of South African origin, which it brought into Namibia and displayed. In December 2000, NDF also displayed a selection of antipersonnel mines and antivehicle mines allegedly captured from UNITA forces.[15] Namibia has not explained what has happened to mines captured or removed from Angola since May 1998.

Although Namibia has said that it is retaining only a “very limited number” of mines, the 9,999 is among the very highest of all States Parties. It would appear that the number has not changed since 1998, indicating that none of the mines are consumed during research, development and training activities. Namibia has not specified the nature of those activities.

Landmine Problem, Survey and Assessment

Landmines were frequently used during the war of independence, fought between 1961 and 1990. The conflict left mines and UXO in the densely populated Kaokoland, Owambo, Kavango and Caprivi Strip districts in the northwestern, northern, and northeastern regions of the country. Although more than 60 percent of the country’s population inhabits these areas, only a small fraction could be described as “affected” by the presence of mines, as indicated by mine-related incidents. There has been no national landmine survey of Namibia, and no assessment of the mine problem undertaken other than a 1999 UNMAS mission, which concluded that the “landmine situation in Namibia constitutes neither a humanitarian emergency nor a major obstacle for development,” and that the “mine problem in Namibia is finite, well known and could be solved relatively quickly given the appropriate resources and coordination.”[16]

Upon completion of its work in Namibia in February 2001, the US commercial demining firm RONCO declared all of Namibia free of mines, except the area of conflict on the Angola border in the Kavango Region.[17] In November 2001, the US government stated that landmines and UXO affect some 100,000 square kilometers of land, or about 12 percent of Namibian territory.[18]

In May 2002, the Director of the US State Department’s Office of Humanitarian Demining observed that if not for the “intrusion” of mines recently laid by the Angolans in the northwest corner of the country, “Namibia would be mine safe.”[19] A US Department of State document said that residents in the northern regions of Onamunama and Utomba continued to report the presence of landmines in 2002.[20] In a November 2002 report, UNMAS stated that Namibia was affected by landmines and had requested international mine action assistance.[21] According to a media report in early 2003, over the last three years, small-scale farmers at a government-subsidized cotton-growing program in West Caprivi had been unable to plant because of landmines in the area.[22]

At the intersessional meetings in June 2004, Namibia stated that while there was still a problem in Kavango and Western Caprivi on the Angolan border, “no-go” areas do not exist there, and that the country could be viewed as “mine safe.” It was also reported that mine/UXO-related accidents had dropped dramatically.[23] Namibia’s July 2004 Article 7 report declares that there are “no areas that contain mines.”[24]

Mine Action Coordination and Mine Clearance

The Ministry of Defense is responsible for mine clearance, whereas the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is responsible for mine/UXO risk education. There is no apparent policy, criteria or strategy governing the allocation and use of mine action funds in Namibia.

The US-sponsored training and clearance program in Namibia started in 1994 and ended in February 2001. At that time the United States noted, “Overall the establishment of Namibia’s demining program is complete.... Namibia now possesses a modern demining capacity and a dedicated unit of 1,000 deminers.”[25]

The US reported that ten known minefields, 410 electric pylons and more than one million square meters of land had been cleared, and more than 5,000 mines and 1,300 UXO destroyed. The project was completed without casualties to the deminers.[26] The German NGO, MgM, which has undertaken field tests in Namibia as part of its research and development on demining technology, reported carrying out emergency clearance in the Caprivi area in June 2000.[27]

According to local media in 2003, Namibian security forces were carrying out demining in Kavango and other northeastern, northern and northwestern parts of the country along the common border with Angola.[28] At the intersessional meetings in June 2004, Namibia reported that the Engineer Regiment and Nampol Explosive Unit were “hunting” UXO in the northern regions of the country.[29]

In 2003, Landmine Monitor reported on the development of demining vehicles in Namibia as a collaborative product of Military International Ltd. of Canada and Windhoeker Maschinenfabrik Pty. Ltd. of Namibia.[30]

In November 2002, in response to a request for assistance from Zambia’s president, teams from Namibia and Zambia worked jointly on a survey to establish the scale of the landmine problem in Zambia’s Western province where SWAPO freedom fighters had operated.[31]

Mine Risk Education

During 2003, the Namibian Red Cross Society (NRCS) conducted a mine risk education (MRE) program along the Kavango River in the Kavango Region. According to NRCS, the program involved mine awareness through radio messages and distribution of T-shirts, teaching villagers how to give first aid support to mine casualties, and providing villagers with information about psychological support and prosthetic services. This was part of a joint International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Canadian Red Cross Society (CRCS) and NRCS program, begun in 2002, which targeted 45 vulnerable villages in the region.[32] The Kavango program benefited 33,131 people before coming to an end in December 2003, due to lack of funding.[33] At the request of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), ICRC also conducted training-of-trainer programs in the Osire Refugee Camp for a large number of Angolan refugees who are expected to return to their country.[34]

In 2001, a US-supported nationwide mine awareness program delivered MRE messages in five local languages on local radio and television. A local joint mine awareness initiative — including Western embassies, government departments, local NGOs and financial institutions — was also launched under the theme Namibia Against Landmines. The initiative aimed at distributing mine education materials, largely through schools.[35] The Namibian government conducted MRE campaigns since independence in 1990, using radio, television, T-shirts and pamphlets.[36]


In 2003, the United States donated US$600,000 for mine action in Namibia, which was a significant increase over 2001 and 2002.[37] From 1999-2003, the US provided about $2.25 million in mine action assistance: 1999, $1.053 million; 2000, $492,000; 2001, $40,000 (for MRE program); 2002, $65,000; 2003, $600,000. The US has been the primary donor for mine action in Namibia since the mid-1990s, providing about US$7.25 million from 1995 through 1998.[38] The US government also transferred demining equipment worth US$2 million to the NDF at the conclusion of its mine clearance program in February 2001.[39]

In August 2003, China donated demining military equipment to Namibia, including 30 mine detectors or sweepers, and 50 tons of explosive devices.[40] It was reported that the Namibia Development Corporation spent $33,950 during 2002 on demining 30-hectare farming plots in the West Caprivi region, which had been mined between 1999 and 2001.[41]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2003, official Namibian police statistics recorded twelve new mine/UXO casualties, including three killed and nine injured; one incident was attributed to a landmine. To March 2004, two people were injured in separate UXO-related incidents.[42]

Since 1999, there has been a significant decrease in the number of reported mine/UXO casualties from 140 mine/UXO casualties in 2000 (14 killed and 126 injured), to 50 casualties in 2001 (nine killed and 41 injured), and 19 casualties in 2002 (two killed and 17 injured).[43]

There is no systematic nationwide data collection on mine/UXO incidents in Namibia, and various sources report contradictory information. The police department and media are the principal sources of information relating to mine/UXO casualties. According to the US Department of State, from 1999 to July 2002, landmines and UXO killed 135 civilians and injured 440 others, with 23 killed and 138 injured in the Kavango and Caprivi regions alone in 2000 and 2001.[44] In August 2001, Foreign Affairs Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab reportedly stated that “just over 100 Namibians have died as a result of landmine explosions and a further 255 have sustained injuries since Independence.”[45]

Namibian soldiers have also been killed and injured in mine incidents in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1999.[46]

Survivor Assistance

Landmine casualties in Namibia receive emergency medical treatment from local health centers in the mine-affected areas. Casualties with more serious injuries are transferred by ambulance to Windhoek Central State Hospital. The hospital has a rehabilitation center that provides prostheses, physiotherapy, and psychological support. The Roman Catholic Hospital also assists mine survivors. The government has adopted a community based rehabilitation approach to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of persons with disabilities. Although the government reportedly has the capacity to meet the physical needs of mine survivors, assistance is needed to promote their social and economic reintegration.[47]

Between 2000 and 2002, the ICRC provided medicines and surgical supplies to the Runda Hospital in Kavango region and up to four district hospitals to treat an influx of war-wounded. Since 2000, the ICRC-supported hospitals performed amputation surgery for more than 140 war-wounded, including mine casualties. The ICRC also held surgical training seminars for health professionals from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defense in 2001.[48]

The Namibian Red Cross Society trains villagers in first aid for mine casualties and provides information on psychological support and prosthetic services, as part of its mine risk education program.[49]

The ICRC-upgraded Rundu prosthetic/orthotic workshop began production in April 2002. The center is the only orthopedic facility in a region of approximately 400,000 people. Between January and March 2003, the center produced 20 prostheses, of which 14 were for mine survivors; 85 prostheses (49 for mine survivors) were produced in 2002. An ICRC ortho-prosthetist was based as the center until March 2003 providing technical expertise for the introduction of polypropylene technology and training of local technicians and Ministry of Health personnel.[50]

Disability Policy and Practice

There is no legislation protecting the rights of persons with disabilities in Namibia. The National Assembly adopted the National Policy on Disabilities in April 1997; however, the implementation of the policy is still lacking. The Ministry of Lands, Resettlement, and Rehabilitation is primarily responsible for the coordination of disability matters, and implementation of the National Policy on Disabilities. Within the Ministry, the main function of the Rehabilitation Division is to facilitate access to services that will promote the social and economic integration of persons with disabilities into the larger community. In September 2001, the Disability Advisory Office, within the Prime Minister’s office, was established to provide advice on issues relating to persons with disabilities.[51]

Landmine survivors and other persons with disabilities receive assistance, in the form of monthly pension payments, from the Ministry of Health and Social Services.[52]

[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 64-65, for further details.
[2] For details of Article 144 of Namibia’s Constitution, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 121. It is not clear how penal sanctions would be applied to offending parties with regard to specific Articles of the ban treaty.
[3] Presentation by Namibia, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 12 February 2004; Article 7 Report, Form A, 7 July 2004. Form A stated “domestic law under consideration.”
[4] Namibia lists the date of the report as 21 June 2004, but the date of submission to the UN was 7 July 2004. Much of the report is handwritten.
[5] Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 83-84.
[6] Letter to Landmine Monitor (HRW) from Gerhard Theron, Charge d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Namibia to the United Nations, New York, 23 July 2001.
[7] “Army not breaking landmine treaty,” IRIN, 9 January 2001, citing MOD spokesman Frans Nghitila.
[8] In 1999, Landmine Monitor reported that the U.S. Department of Defense claimed that the country produced PMD-6 AP mines in the past. See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 65.
[9] Statement by Namibia, intersessional Standing Committee meetings, Geneva, 21-25 June 2004.
[10] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 81-84, and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 123-125, for further details.
[11] Article 7 Report, Forms D and G, 7 July 2004.
[12] Article 7 Report, Form F, 7 July 2004.
[13] Presentation by Namibia, Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 12 February 2004. This was repeated in Namibia’s statement to the June interessional meetings.
[14] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 65.
[15] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 121-122. The Namibian Campaign to Ban Landmines charged that bringing the mines back from Angola constituted “transfer,” but the government argued that this did not amount to violation of the treaty, and that the act was merely for displaying “the weapons used to maim our people. This is not a transfer.”
[16] UNMAS, Joint Assessment Mission Report: Namibia, 6 April 2000, p. 3.
[17] RONCO website, www.roncoconsulting.com.
[18] US Department of State (DOS), “To Walk the Earth in Safety: The US Government Commitment to Humanitarian Demining,” Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Washington, November 2001, p. 10.
[19] Charles Cobb, "Mozambique Leads the World - in Clearing Land Mines,” allAfrica.com, 27 May 2002.
[20] U.S. DOS, “Namibia: Country Report on Human Rights Practices,” Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, 31 March 2003.
[21] UNMAS, “Namibia: Overall Environment,” 30 November 2002.
[22] Chrispin Inambao, “Cotton Farmers Miss Out on Reaping Harvest Pay,” The Namibian, 26 February 2003.
[23] Statement by Namibia, intersessional Standing Committee meetings, Geneva, 21-25 June 2004.
[24] Article 7 Report, Form C, 7 July 2004.
[25] US DOS, “To Walk the Earth,” November 2001, p. 10.
[26] Ibid.
[27] Email from Hendrik Ehlers, MgM, 20 April 2001.
[28] “Demining underway in Kavango,” The Namibian online, November 26 2003.
[29] Statement by Namibia, intersessional Standing Committee meetings, Geneva, 21-25 June 2004.
[30] GICHD, “Mechanical Demining Equipment Catalogue 2003,” Geneva, December 2002.
[31] Interview with Mark Singongi, Coordinator, Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Landmines, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 December 2002.
[32] Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 357.
[33] Telephone interview with Razia Essack Kauaria, Secretary General, NRCS, 4 March 2004. As reported in Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 356, in September 2002, Canadan announced US$573,300 for mine action in Mozambique and Namibia, which was supposed to include US$318,500 (through the CRCS) for MRE and landmine survivor programs in both countries. Canada country reports do not include any disbursement to Namibia for 2002 or 2003.
[34] Interview with ICRC field officer, 4 March 2004.
[35] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 128.
[36] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 71-72.
[37] US Department of State, “Congressional Budget Justifications: Foreign Operations, Fiscal Year 2005, Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining, and Related programs (NADR) appropriation,” 10 February 2004, pp. 154-158.
[38] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 126.
[39] US Embassy, “US-Namibia Joint Demining Project,” Background Text, 5 February 2001.
[40] “China skenk militere toerusting,” Die Republikein, 1 August 2003.
[41] “Cotton Farmers Miss Out on Reaping Harvest Pay,” The Namibian, 26 February 2003. (Currency exchange rate: 1N$ = US$0.097, the average for 2002 found at www.oanda.com).
[42] Letter to Executive Director, National Society for Human Rights, from Lt. Gen. L. P. Hangula, Inspector General, Namibian Police, 2 April 2004.
[43] In 2000, 12 of the 14 killed and 117 of the 126 injured were mine-related. In 2001, three of the nine killed and at least 21 of the 41 injured were mine-related. In 2002, at least four of the casualties were caused by landmines. For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 357; Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 364; and Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 129.
[44] US DOS, “To Walk the Earth,” September 2002, p. 20.
[45] Absalom Shigedha, “Landmines claim 100 since 1990,” The Namibian, 24 August 2001.
[46] For details see Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 357; and Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 87.
[47] Presentations by Namibia, Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Geneva, 10 February 2004 and 4 February 2003; Dimitris Michailakis, “Government Action in Disability Policy,” UN, New York, 1997, p. 183.
[48] ICRC Special Reports, “Mine Action 2002,” Geneva, July 2003, p. 23; “Mine Action 2001,” July 2002, p. 19; “Mine Action 2000,” July 2001, p. 16.
[49] Email from Karen Mollica, Program Coordinator, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada, 8 July 2003.
[50] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programs, “Annual Report 2003,” Geneva, 9 March 2004, pp. 9 and 26; “Annual Report 2002,” June 2003.
[51] Wezi Tjaronda, “New Campaign to Raise Awareness on Disability,” New Era (Windhoek), 23 July 2004; see also HI, “Landmine Victim Assistance: World Report 2002,” Lyon, December 2002, p. 118.
[52] Presentation by Namibia, Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, 4 February 2003.