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Country Reports
DJIBOUTI, Landmine Monitor Report 2005


Key developments since May 2004: Djibouti again appears to have declared that it has met its Article 5 obligation to clear all mined areas, although there is evidence that mined areas still exist.

France conducted a military mission in March-April 2005 to prepare for clearance of its mine-affected La Doudah military base.

Mine Ban Policy

The Republic of Djibouti signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 18 May 1998 and became a State Party on 1 March 1999. A government official stated in March 2004 that Djibouti had drafted national implementation legislation that likely would be adopted by the time of the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in November 2004. The legislation has apparently still not been enacted.[1 ] Djibouti has cited various existing laws as relevant to implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.[2 ]

On 25 January 2005, Djibouti submitted its third Article 7 transparency report, covering calendar year 2004.[3 ]

Djibouti participated in the First Review Conference in Nairobi in November-December 2004. Its participation was notable in that it had not attended any of the five annual Meetings of States Parties from 1999-2003. Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, Minister of State for International Cooperation at the time, led the country’s delegation to the conference and made a statement in the high level segment.

Djibouti attended the treaty’s intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2004, and the International Conference of Children against Landmines held in Shin Asahi, Japan, from 19 to 25 August 2004. It also attended the June 2005 intersessional meetings in Geneva, but did not make a statement. Djibouti 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. Thus, Djibouti has not made known its views on issues related to 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.

On 3 November 2004, Djibouti attended the inaugural meeting in New York of the Forum of Mine-Affected Countries (FOMAC), a group of high level representatives from mine-affected countries.  FOMAC was formed to encourage cooperation between mine-affected countries.[4]

Production, Transfer, Use, Stockpiling and Destruction

Djibouti has reported that it has not produced antipersonnel mines.[5 ] It is not known to have ever exported mines. On 2 March 2003, one day after its treaty-mandated deadline, the country destroyed its stockpile of 1,118 antipersonnel mines.[6 ] Djibouti is retaining 2,996 antipersonnel mines for training purposes.[7 ] The number has not changed since Djibouti first declared it in January 2003, indicating no mines are being consumed during training activities. Djibouti has not yet reported in any detail on the intended purposes and actual uses of its retained mines—a step agreed to by States Parties in the Nairobi Action Plan that emerged from the First Review Conference.

The French military based in Djibouti destroyed its own stockpile of 2,444 antipersonnel mines in November 1999.[8]

During the 1991-1994 civil war between the government and the Front for the Restoration of Unity and Democracy, both sides used landmines around military positions and on access roads.[9 ] There is no evidence that Djibouti's army used mines after the country signed the Mine Ban Treaty.

Meeting the Article 5 Obligation - Djibouti

On 29 January 2004, Djibouti declared itself “mine-safe” after more than 40,000 square meters of land had been cleared.[10 ]The US Department of State, which largely funded Djibouti’s clearance program, also issued a press statement in January 2004 celebrating Djibouti’s “landmine impact-free” status.[11 ] In its February 2004 Article 7 report, Djibouti declared that there are no mined areas and no suspected mined areas in the country.[12 ] It stated that its program for destruction of antipersonnel mines in mined areas was completed in 2003.[13 ]In June 2004, Djibouti told States Parties during the intersessional meetings in Geneva that as of 29 January 2004, it is “‘pays sans mines’ ou ‘mine safe.’”[14 ] Thus, it would appear that Djibouti officially declared that it had met its Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 obligation to “destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control.”

Djibouti’s January 2005 Article 7 report again declares that there are no mined areas and no suspected mined areas in the country, and repeats that the clearance program was completed in 2003.[15 ] However, it states that the areas in some old firing ranges were discovered to be contaminated, and a variety of unexploded ordnance was subsequently destroyed.[16 ]

Although Djibouti appears to have declared that it met its Article 5 obligation, there is evidence that mined areas and suspected mined areas still exist in the country. In May 2005, the US Department of State issued a travel warning that stated, “While Djibouti has been declared a ‘mine-safe’ country, this indicates landmines have been identified and marked, not that they have been removed. Landmines are known to be present in the northern districts of Tadjoura and Obock. In addition, there are reports that there may be mines in the Ali Sabieh district in the south.”[17 ] A State Department official noted in July 2005 that the government of Djibouti has all of the data on where clearance took place, and on those areas that have been fenced and marked off.[18 ]Similarly, in February 2005, the State Department noted that “a majority of all mines laid in the 1990s in Tadjoura and Obock districts” have been cleared. It also stated, “Areas that have little impact on civilian safety, agriculture, or infrastructure do not require clearance before a country can be declared ‘mine safe.’”[19]

In February 2004, Djibouti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs reportedly acknowledged that Djibouti has to “continue its efforts to become ‘mine-free’ by 1 March 2009.”[20 ]

Djibouti’s treaty-mandated deadline to destroy all mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control is 1 March 2009.

Meeting the Article 5 Obligation - France

The French Army has maintained an ammunition depot at La Doudah, which is protected by antipersonnel mines, a few kilometers from the town center. Heavy rainfall and floods in 1989 resulted in the movement of some mines beyond the barbed wire fence that enclosed the minefields.[21 ] In October 2003, a French preparatory mission determined that the area was contaminated by some 700 mines and recommended that a mechanical sifter should be used to clear the area.[22]

From 28 March to 4 April 2005, a French military mission visited La Doudah in order to prepare a provisional timetable for clearance of the depot’s minefields. It was decided that mine clearance would start in October 2006. Climatic conditions (heat and the Khamsin wind) prevent clearance operations being carried out from June to September each year.[23 ]

The French Army will carry out the clearance operation, under the responsibility of the commander of French forces in Djibouti. Machines will be used, starting with mechanical ground preparation to optimize operation of the sifter used afterwards. If necessary, clearance will be completed manually. France expected that, in the absence of major unforeseen technical problems, the clearance operation would be completed by mid-2007. After clearance, the area will remain under the jurisdiction and control of France.[24]

France’s treaty deadline for destruction of all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control is 1 March 2009.

Landmines Casualties and Survivor Assistance

On 7 September 2004, three girls aged between nine and 12 years old were reportedly injured in a mine incident near a military garrison in the district of Dikhil, near Galafi, while tending their animals.[25 ] However, the Djiboutian authorities have refuted this information and do not report incidents since Djibouti was declared “mine safe” in January 2004.[26 ] No mine incidents were reported in the first six months of 2005.

The total number of landmine casualties in Djibouti is not known. Landmine Monitor identified 81 mine casualties between 1999 and 2001, including 23 people killed and 51 injured, and the status of seven unknown. According to military sources, between 1997 and 2000, 31 people were killed and 90 injured in mine incidents; the majority of casualties were military personnel.[27]

On 29 January 2004, when Djibouti declared itself “mine-safe,” officials stressed the need to assist mine survivors.[28]

Public health services in Djibouti have remained heavily impaired since the end of the civil conflict. The only hospital with the capacity to treat trauma injuries, Peltier Hospital, is in the capital. Regional health centers are only capable of providing first aid.[29]

The International Committee of the Red Cross runs a small program that funds the travel and costs of amputees to the Prosthetic/Orthotic Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, every two years for the replacement of their prostheses. In 2004, 24 survivors benefited from the program.[30]

Other organizations assisting disabled ex-combatants include Assistance to the Handicapped; vocational training for disabled war veterans, including mine survivors, is also available in carpentry and electrical trades.[31]

[1 ]“Report and Recommendations,” Workshop on Landmines and the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines in East Africa, the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa Regions, Nairobi, Kenya, 2-4 March 2004.

[2 ]Four laws were cited: Law 62-61 (2 June 1962), Decree 817 (8 June 1962), Decree 64-406 (5 May 1964) and Decree 669 (20 July 1976). See Article 7 Reports, Form A, 16 January 2003 and 25 January 2005.

[3 ]Previous reports were submitted on 16 January 2003 (originally due 27 August 1999), covering the period up to 1 October 2002, and on 6 February 2004, for calendar year 2003.

[4] United Nations, “Countries stand united in the battle against landmines,” 4 November 2004, www.un.int/

[5 ]Article 7 Report, Form E, 16 January 2003.

[6 ]Article 7 Report, Form G, Tableau Explicatif, 6 February 2004; Article 7 Report, Form G, 16 January 2003.

[7 ]Mines retained include: 650 M12; 307 M412; 621 PPM2; 665 T72; 521 MB; 16 DV; 30 M961; 10 AV; 128 PPMISR; 12 MLE421; 18 M59; and 18 of unknown type and origin. Article 7 Reports, Form D, 16 January 2003 and 25 January 2005.

[8] Ministry of Defense, “La France détruit ses dernières mines antipersonnel,” press file, 20 December 1999.

[9 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 33-34.

[10 ]Statement of Brig. Gen. Zakaria Cheick Ibrahim, Chef d'Etat-Major, Ministry of Defense, at the occasion marking the end of the mine clearance program of the Djibouti Mine Action Center (DMAC) and the declaration of Djibouti as mine safe, 29 January 2004. This statement is attached to the February 2004 Article 7 report. The statement concludes, “Et maintenant, je declare officiellement la Republique de Djibouti ‘Djibouti sans mines’ ou ‘Mine safe.’”

[11 ]US Department of State Press Release, “Djibouti: First Horn of Africa Country to Become Free from Impact of Landmines,” Washington DC, 29 January 2004. A State Department official subsequently told Landmine Monitor that the statement inadvertently understated Djibouti’s status, which he said should have been described as the “first mine-affected country on the entire African continent to achieve this success.” Email to Mark Hiznay, Human Rights Watch, from John Stevens, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, US Department of State, 29 June 2005.

[12 ]Article 7 Report, Form C, 6 February 2004. In its January 2003 report, it indicated the presence of suspected mined areas. Article 7 Report, Form C, 16 January 2003.

[13 ]Article 7 Report, Form F, 6 February 2004. “Programme integralement execute en 2003.” For details of Djibouti clearance operations in previous years, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 396-398.

[14 ]Intervention of Djibril Djama Elabé, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 22 June 2004.

[15 ]Article 7 Report, Forms C and F, 26 January 2005.

[16 ]Article 7 Report, Forms F and G, 26 January 2005. The affected areas were in Balbala and Obock.

[17 ]“State Department Issues Consular Information Sheet on Djibouti,” US Fed News (Washington DC), 2 May 2005.

[18 ]Email to Mark Hiznay, HRW, from John Stevens, US Department of State, 11 July 2005.

[19] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004,” Washington DC, 28 February 2005.

[20 ]Statement by Ali Abdi Farah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Workshop on the Ottawa Convention and Mine Action in the Republic of Djibouti, Djibouti, 4 February 2004.

[21 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 396-397.

[22] CNEMA, “Rapport 2003,” pp. 22-23. CNEMA―Commission Nationale pour l’Elimination des Mines Anti-personnels―was created in 1998 by France’s law implementing the Mine Ban Treaty.

[23 ]Paper (untitled) given by Capitaine de frégate, Benoît Duchenet, during a CNEMA meeting on 24 June 2005; France Article 7 Report, Form C, 7 July 2005.

[24] Paper (untitled) given by Capitaine de frégate, Benoît Duchenet, during a CNEMA meeting, 24 June 2005; email from Capitaine de frégate, Benoît Duchenet, 1 September 2005.

[25 ]“Elles terrorisent le Sud” (“They still terrify the South”), Réalité (ARD newspaper), No. 12, 10 November 2004, www.ard-djibouti.org/112/sommaire.html, accessed 30 August 2005. ARD is the Alliance Républicaine pour le Développement.

[26 ]Interview with Djibril Djama Elabé, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Djibouti, 15 June 2005.

[27] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 398.

[28] Statement by Brig. Gen. Zakaria Cheick Ibrahim, Ministry of Defense, 29 January 2004; Annex to Article 7 Report, 6 February 2004.

[29] For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 398.

[30] ICRC, “Annual Report 2004,” Geneva, June 2005, p. 128.

[31] For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 399.