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Country Reports
KUWAIT, Landmine Monitor Report 2005


Key developments since May 2004: In June 2005, a Kuwaiti official told the ICBL that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense had both recommended acceding to the Mine Ban Treaty. The Minister of Defense said in October 2004 that Kuwait does not have a stockpile of antipersonnel mines. In 2004, 20 new mine/UXO casualties were reported, representing a significant increase from the two casualties reported in 2003.

Mine Ban Policy

The State of Kuwait has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. However, in June 2005, the head of the five-person Kuwaiti delegation to the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings in Geneva told the ICBL that, after studying the issue, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense had both recommended acceding to the treaty. He said the next step would be submission of the proposal for accession by the Foreign Minister to the National Assembly.[1 ]

Kuwait attended the First Review Conference in Nairobi in November-December 2004. Its delegation consisted of two high-ranking officers from the Ministry of Defense, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and two Nairobi-based diplomats. While Kuwait did not make a statement to the high level segment of the First Review Conference, its delegation told Landmine Monitor that the country supports the Mine Ban Treaty and all measures to ban antipersonnel mines, as well as international efforts in demining and victim assistance. They expressed confidence that Kuwait would join the treaty.[2 ]

The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) undertook an advocacy mission to Kuwait in October 2004, and met with Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sheikh Jaber bin Mubarek Al-Sabah and senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials.[3 ] The Deputy Prime Minister expressed his support for joining the Mine Ban Treaty and said that Kuwait would begin internal consultations on accession.

Kuwait was not present for the vote in December 2004 on UN General Assembly Resolution 59/84, calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.[4 ]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Kuwait is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Officials from the Ministry of Defense told Landmine Monitor that Kuwaiti forces have never used mines.[5 ] The Minister of Defense told UNMAS in October 2004 that Kuwait does not have any stockpiles of antipersonnel mines.[6]

Prior to March 2003, the United States stockpiled several thousand antipersonnel mines in pre-positioned stores in Kuwait. Additional mines were brought in from Qatar prior to the invasion of Iraq.[7 ] It is not known whether antipersonnel mines are now stored at US bases in Kuwait, which are used to support operations in Iraq.

Landmine/UXO Problem and Mine Action

As a result of the 1990-1991 Gulf War, open and rough sandy desert areas and wet coastal mudflats remain contaminated by landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). In addition, parts of the desert and the coastal islands used for military exercise contain mines and UXO. The most important UXO contamination lies in and around El-Ederah and on Bubiyan Island.[8 ]

The Ministry of Defense is responsible for coordinating all demining operations. The Engineering Corps of the Land Force deals mainly with landmines and UXO in desert areas, and the Demining Unit of the Ministry of Interior addresses landmines and UXO in populated areas. Both bodies respond to calls from public and private organizations. The Fire and Safety department of the Kuwait Oil Company is responsible for the coordination of mine clearance in company areas and has direct contact with the Engineering Corps.[9]

Demining activities were ongoing in 2004 to mid-2005 in al-Sulaibiyah (southwest of Kuwait city) and in El-Ederah in the northwestern part of the desert, according to a media report.[10 ] In March 2005, the Ministry of Interior reported that 25 grenades and five pieces of small arms ammunition had been detected in one of the old buildings in Hawalli residential area in Kuwait City.[11 ] On 4 May 2004, a private demining company working in the western part of Bubiyan Island discovered Mk.188 Rockeye submunitions; the area is believed to have been used for the dismantling and disposal of ammunition in the past.[12 ]

Clearance reports for 2004-2005 were not made available to Landmine Monitor.[13 ] However, the level of annual clearance activity may be gauged by official reports in previous years: in 2003, 28,262 pieces of ammunition were collected from 154.6 square kilometers; in 2002, 30 mines were detected and destroyed; in 2001, 26 mines were detected and destroyed.[14 ] About 1.1 million antipersonnel mines and 0.6 million antivehicle mines were cleared and destroyed by mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal teams in Kuwait from 1991 to 2002.[15 ]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2004, 20 new mine/UXO casualties were reported in Kuwait, including five people killed and 15 injured. 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.[16 ] On 1 December, three military personnel were killed and nine injured in a rocket-propelled grenade explosion during a training exercise in al-Edairea area in the northwestern part of Kuwait.[17 ] This represents a significant increase compared to the two people killed in reported landmine incidents in 2003.[18 ]

Casualties continue to be reported in 2005 with four people killed and four injured in landmine and UXO incidents to the end of April. On 12 March, an Egyptian was killed in a grenade explosion in a residential area in Kuwait City. The Russian-made grenade was part of a stock of 25 grenades and five small arms left by Iraqi forces in an old building.[19 ] On 16 March, a woman lost a hand and a leg after a grenade she was playing with exploded in al-Rauda, a residential area in Kuwait City. The grenade had been brought to the house from a military site in the northern part of the country.[20 ] On 23 March, two shepherds were killed in separate antipersonnel mine incidents. The first incident took place on the al-Salmi road, in the southwest of Kuwait and the second in Qashaniyah in northern Kuwait.[21 ] On 26 April, one person was killed and another injured in a mine incident in al-Salmi area, in the southwest of Kuwait.[22]

On 20 April 2005, a major in the Kuwaiti Army was injured during mine clearance at a farm in al-Sulaibiyah, southwest of Kuwait City.[23 ] A soldier was injured on the same day by a cluster bomblet, during demining in the northwest of Kuwait.[24 ]

The total number of mine casualties in Kuwait is not known. Between March 2000 and the end of 2003, there were at least 24 mine/UXO casualties (four people killed and 20 injured) on Kuwaiti territory.[25 ] The most comprehensive information is the 2002 report by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) 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.[26 ] KISR is planning to update the database to include data until 2005; however, this is dependent on funding.[27 ]

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; 95 percent of services are provided by government institutions. Facilities include rehabilitation centers, prosthetic workshops, occupational therapy, psychological support and vocational training programs. Military mine casualties are treated in separate military hospitals; however, civilians can be treated in a military hospital on an emergency basis.[28 ]

The Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MoSAL), constitute a national level coordination body to focus on disability issues. Persons with disabilities are entitled to a pension through MoSAL. The Handicapped Care Administration of MoSAL provides support for people with disabilities and their families. Services include special accommodation providing medical care, rehabilitation, psychosocial support, education and sports. MoSAL also has a vocational training center for people with disabilities.[29]

The Kuwaiti Society for Landmine Victim Assistance was formed in 2002; however, it has not implemented any activities.[30 ] Other organizations assisting persons with disabilities include the Kuwait Red Crescent Society and Awqaf Fund for the Disabled and Individuals with Special Needs.

No progress has been made on the establishment of a national fund for persons with disabilities as recommended by civil society groups on 3 December 2003, the International Day of Disabled Persons.[31 ]

In September 2004, the Governing Council of the United Nations Compensation Commission approved the payment of US$551,439 to 30 mine/UXO survivors injured in Kuwait after 2 March 1991.  In March 2005, compensation for another two mine survivors was approved.[32]

Kuwaiti members of parliament participated in the First Arab Parliamentary Symposium on Disability Legislation, held in Amman on 16-17 March 2005, which discussed implementation of the proposed Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.[33]

The 5th Conference of the Gulf Disability Society was held in Kuwait, from 9 to 11 April 2005, with approximately 250 participants from the Arab region. The Kuwait Society for the Handicapped, Higher Council for Disabled Affairs and MoSAL organized the conference.[34]

[1 ]Email from Amb. Satnam Singh, ICBL Diplomatic Advisor, 28 June 2005. This email reported on retired Amb. Singh’s meeting with Lt. Col. Ahmed Abdallah Al-Ali, Legal Advisor, Ministry of Defense, in Geneva during the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings 13-17 June 2005.

[2 ]Interview with members of the Kuwaiti delegation, Nairobi, 29 November 2004. On 8 March 2005, a high-ranking officer (who did not wish to be named) confirmed to Landmine Monitor that Kuwait was on its way to joining the treaty. Email from Raafat Misak, Landmine Monitor Researcher, 6 September 2005.

[3 ]Amb. Satnam Singh, UNMAS consultant, “Mission Report - Saudi Arabia/Kuwait, 22-28 October 2004,” (undated).

[4 ]Kuwait voted in support of annual pro-ban UNGA 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.

[5 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 684-685.

[6] Amb. Satnam Singh, UNMAS consultant, “Mission Report - Saudi Arabia/Kuwait, 22-28 October 2004,” (undated). Officials told Landmine Monitor that 45,845 antipersonnel mines removed from the ground following the Gulf War and stored for a period were subsequently destroyed. See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1026.

[7 ]Charles Aldinger, “U.S. Army moves arms near Kuwait in mobility exercise,” Reuters (Washington DC), 5 September 2002.

[8 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1026.

[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 941.

[10 ]“Cluster bomb incident in NW,” Al Qabes (daily newspaper), 21 April 2005.

[11 ]“Detection of UXO in Hawally,”Al Qabes, 12 March 2005.

[12 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1027.

[13 ]Clearance figures were requested in a meeting between the Landmine Monitor researcher and the Ministry of Defense on 8 March 2005, and a request letter was also remitted to the Ministry of Defense.

[14 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1026.

[15 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2003, p. 626.

[16 ]“Big explosion in Amghara area (6 victims),” al-Qabes, 20 March 2004.

[17 ]“RPG accident in Edairea,” al-Talee (weekly newspaper), 2 March 2005.

[18 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1027.

[19 ]“Detection of UXO in Hawally,” al-Qabes, 12 March 2005.

[20 ]“Grenade accident,” al-Seyasa (daily newspaper), 16 March 2005.

[21 ]“Two shepherds killed in two separate areas,” al-Qabes, 23 March 2005.

[22] “Mine accident in Al Salmi,” al-Raae al-Aam (daily newspaper), 27 April 2005.

[23 ]“Accident in Sulaibiyah Farm,” al-Qabes, 21 April 2005.

[24 ]“Cluster bomb incident in NW,” al-Qabes, 21 April 2005.

[25 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 1027-1028.

[26 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 686.

[27 ]Email to Landmine Monitor (HI) from Rafaat Misaak, KISR, 30 May 2005.

[28 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1028.

[29] For more information, see “Kuwait Information Page for People with Special Needs,” www.safat.com/mihn.html; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 1018; Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 943.

[30 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 686.

[31 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 1028-1029.

[32] “Governing Council of UNCC approves awards of $376.9 million for compensation at its fifty-third session,” M2 Presswire (Geneva), 23 September 2004; “U.N. approves first Gulf War compensation,” Reuters, Geneva, 23 September 2004; “U.N. OKs Compensation for Kuwait Invasion,” Associated Press (Geneva), 11 March 2005.

[33] Amman Declaration on Disability Legislation, Amman, Jordan, 16-17 March 2005.

[34] Rehabilitation International (RI), “Secretariat Headlines,” Issue 1, April 2005, p. 6.