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Country Reports
UZBEKISTAN, Landmine Monitor Report 2005


Key developments since May 2004: Uzbekistan apparently began clearance operations on its borders with Kyrgyzstan in mid-2004, but reportedly halted in November 2004. Clearance around the Shakhimardan enclave was reportedly completed in 2004.

Mine Ban Policy

Uzbekistan has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. According to informal interviews with officials, it has no intention of joining in the immediate future.[1] Uzbekistan has stated in the past that mines are necessary for national security to prevent the flow of narcotics, arms and insurgent groups across its borders. It abstained from voting on UN General Assembly Resolution 59/84 in December 2004, which called for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. It abstained on similar resolutions in previous years.

Uzbekistan has never participated in a Mine Ban Treaty meeting, including the First Review Conference in Nairobi in November-December 2004 and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2005.

Uzbekistan is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines, but has not joined Amended Protocol II. It did not attend the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in November 2004 in Geneva.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Uzbek officials have stated that there is no antipersonnel mine production in Uzbekistan.[2] Uzbekistan is not a known exporter of antipersonnel mines. The size and condition of Uzbekistan’s antipersonnel mine stockpile is not known. Specific information on mine stockpiles and their destruction is a military secret. Officials have indicated that the stockpile was inherited from the Soviet Union and includes Soviet-manufactured OZM-72, PОМZ and PMN antipersonnel mines, and perhaps other Soviet mines. The mines are stored by both the Ministry of Defense and the Committee on State Border Protection.[3 ]


Landmine Monitor has not received any reports of use of antipersonnel mines in Uzbekistan in this reporting period (since May 2004). Kyrgyzstan claimed in February 2004 that Uzbekistan had replanted mines in areas that Kyrgyz deminers had cleared in the first half of 2003. Uzbekistan used antipersonnel mines on its borders with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, beginning with the Afghan border in 1998, then the Kyrgyz border in November 1999 and the Tajik border from August 2000 to May 2001.[4 ] Several sources estimated that 50,000 to 200,000 antipersonnel mines were placed on the three borders.[5 ] One source said the number could be 350,000.[6 ] The Committee on State Border Protection did not respond to requests for information.[7]

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, non-state armed groups―particularly the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, based in uncontrolled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan―and criminal groups do not have antipersonnel mines and have not used them.[8 ]

Landmine Problem and Clearance

Uzbekistan’s mine problem is the result of emplacement of mines by its own armed forces. Little is known of the nature and extent of the mine contamination, due to the lack of open discussion or reporting of the issue within Uzbekistan. Some sources state that all minefields are marked, others state that minefields are marked only sporadically.[9]

There is no formal mine action program in Uzbekistan. No surveys or assessments were reported as being conducted in 2004-July 2005. Clearance operations are carried out by troops of the Ministry of Defense, and data on clearance is recorded by the National Security Department.[10]

The Minister of Defense announced on 11 June 2004 Uzbekistan’s readiness to start demining operations on the eastern borders with Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Kyrgyz-Uzbek border runs for about 1,300 kilometers, of which the Kyrgyz authorities estimated that about 42 kilometers were mined.[11 ] It is not clear when demining actually began. In November 2004, Uzbekistan was reported to have stopped clearance on this border.[12 ] It is not known if operations subsequently restarted. According to Uzbek sources, demining by the border guard troops was complicated by inconsistencies in the minefield maps, as well as missing maps.[13]

When Uzbekistan repeated its intention to carry out demining of the Kyrgyz border during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on 18 June 2004, it also requested international support for its demining efforts and technical assistance in finding substitutes for landmines in securing its borders.[14 ] On 16 February 2005, Slovenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmitrij Rupel, Acting Chairman of the OSCE, declared in Tashkent that: “[The] OSCE, and particularly Slovenia, will readily provide assistance to Uzbekistan in mine clearing and frontier protection.”[15 ] In another source, Minister Rupel is quoted as saying: “The OSCE and Slovenia as such are prepared to help Uzbekistan with sweeping the borders of landmines and ensuring their security.”[16 ]

According to a regional news agency, Uzbekistan completed mine clearance around the Shakhimardan enclave in neighboring Kyrgyzstan in 2004. It was also reported that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a note about the outcome of the clearance operations to the government of Kyrgyzstan.[17]

Mine clearance by Kyrgyz deminers around the Sokh enclave inside Kyrgyzstan (which contains ethnic Tajiks who are Uzbek citizens) was suspended in late 2004 and resumed in 2005.[18 ] Kyrgyzstan’s Parliamentary Security Committee estimates that minefields around the Sokh and Shakhimardan enclaves were about 250 meters wide and contained a high density of mines (about 2,000 to 3,000 mines per kilometer).

It was reported that Uzbekistan has no plans to clear the 150-kilometer border with Afghanistan.[19 ] This is said to be unlikely for the foreseeable future given the situation in Afghanistan and the danger from the Taliban and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.[20 ]

Mine Risk Education

The National Society of Red Crescent in Uzbekistan (RCSU), with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), undertook a five-day training in mine risk education (MRE) at the Red Crescent national training center from 3 to 7 September 2004.  This was an internal training for 28 head office and regional employees, conducted in the framework of the conflict and disaster preparedness training for national societies. For the time being, no MRE field activity has been implemented in Uzbekistan.

Landmine Casualties

In 2004, four people were reportedly killed by landmines in Uzbekistan; all were taken to district hospitals.[21 ] In 2003, at least nine people were killed in mine incidents, including three children.[22 ] However, there are no official records on landmine casualties in Uzbekistan. The government does not confirm any reports of mine-related casualties. A former representative of the Ministry of Health told Landmine Monitor that deaths or injuries caused by mines and UXO are officially classified as “secret.”[23 ]

In March 2004, an Uzbek paratrooper was injured when he accidentally landed in a minefield on the Tajik side of the border.[24]

The total number of mine casualties in Uzbekistan is not known. Between 2000 and the end of 2003, at least 65 new mine/UXO casualties were reported; at least 43 people were killed.[25 ]

In 2004 and 2005, Uzbek landmines continue to kill and injure Tajiks in the Tajik-Uzbek border areas. In the past, casualties were also reported along the border with Kyrgyzstan. (See Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan reports)

Little is known about healthcare facilities in Uzbekistan, but they are not believed to offer special assistance to mine survivors or their families. The Ministry of Health does not make public any information relating to assistance provided to mine casualties.[26 ] The Tashkent Central Military Hospital of the Ministry of Defense reportedly treated three military personnel injured by landmines between June 2004 and April 2005.[27]

Healthcare institutions providing services for persons with disabilities, including orthopedic workshops, are reportedly exempt from adding tax to the cost of aids and services.[28 ]

[1] Nearly all government officials contacted by Landmine Monitor requested anonymity to ensure personal safety. The government classifies as confidential all matters related to landmines in Uzbekistan. Landmine Monitor is also, upon request, withholding specific interview dates.

[2] Letter to Landmine Monitor from Amb. Shavkat Khamrakulov, Embassy of Uzbekistan to the United States, 31 July 2001; interview with Ministry of Economics official, March 2004.

[3 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1155.

[4 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1156.

[5 ]Interviews with former officials in the Ministry of Defense and the Committee on State Border Protection, and a field engineering sub-unit, March 2005.

[6 ]Interview with a former officer of the General Staff of the Ministry of Defense.

[7] Landmine Monitor letter to the Committee on State Border Protection, #T-7, 21 April 2005. The letter was not answered and officials declined to meet with Landmine Monitor researchers.

[8 ]Interview with Col. Sharapov, Ministry of Internal Affairs, April 2005. The Colonel is commander of a special team responsible for detection, neutralization and destruction of explosives. He said they have encountered hand grenades rigged with tripwires.

[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1157.

[10] Information provided informally by an official from the Committee on State Border Protection, Tashkent, April 2005.

[11 ]Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, OSCE Centre in Tashkent, Spot Report, “Uzbek Government Announces Its Readiness for Demining of State Borders,” 11 June 2004; “Demining alone: Uzbekistan clears mines from Kyrgyz-Uzbek border without agreement with neighbor,” 24 August 2004, www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1306414,00.html.

[12 ]“Mine clearance work suspended on Uzbek-Kyrgyz border,” Fergana.org (Osh, Kyrgyzstan), 5 November 2004; “Uzbekistan stopped demining on Kyrgyz-Uzbek border in unilateral character,” 9 November 2004, www.dw-world.de/dw/article; information provided informally by an official from the Committee on State Border Protection, Tashkent, April 2005.

[13] Interviews with former officials in the Ministry of Defense and the Committee on State Border Protection, and a field engineering sub-unit, March 2005. Kyrgyz field engineers also conducted clearance on the border in 2004. See report on Kyrgyzstan in this edition of Landmine Monitor Report.

[14 ]Statement by Uzbekistan to 511th special meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, Vienna, 18 June 2004; “Uzbekistan says it’s ready to de-mine borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan,” Associated Press (Tashkent), 23 June 2004.

[15 ]Andrei Kudryashov, “OSCE offers to Uzbekistan assistance in mine clearing at the frontier,” Tashkent, www.ferghana.ru, 16 April 2005.

[16 ]Andrei Kudryashov, “The OSCE offers Uzbekistan help in sweeping the borders of landmines,” Central Asia News (Moscow), 17 February 2005.

[17] “Uzbekistan completed mine clearing around enclave Shakhimardan,” 3 March 2005, www.CentrAsia.org/

[18 ]Uzbek Landmine Monitor interview with an official of the Uzbek Committee on State Border Protection, Tashkent, April 2005.

[19 ]“Uzbekistan to clear mines on Tajik, Kyrgyz borders,” Agence France-Presse (Tashkent), 23 June 2004.

[20 ]Information provided to Landmine Monitor by source in Ministry of Defense, April 2005.

[21 ]Interview with former representative of Ministry of Health, April 2005; see also US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2004: Uzbekistan,” 28 February 2005.

[22 ]For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1158.

[23 ]Interview with former representative of Ministry of Health, April 2005.

[24] “23 Uzbek paratroopers land in Tajikistan; one wounded by landmines,” Associated Press (Dushanbe), 25 March 2004.

[25 ]For more information see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1158.

[26 ]Telephone interview with representative of the Ministry of Health, 28 April 2005; see also Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1159.

[27] Information provided in confidence to Landmine Monitor.

[28 ]Instruction No. 1238, Ministry of Justice of Republic of Uzbekistan, registered 29 April 2003.