Bosnia and Herzegovina

Floods in Bosnia: anti-personnel mines dislodged by floodwater

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Disaster victims in Bosnia are facing a new threat after floods triggered 3,000 landslides, disturbing anti-personnel mines left from Bosnia’s 1992-95 war. The floodwaters could carry the mines to previously unaffected areas. Concerned about the potentially disastrous consequences, Handicap International has contacted the Bosnian authorities to discuss the need for further action.

This latest disaster follows days of record flooding in Bosnia and neighbouring countries, which has left at least 40 people dead. The landslides and floodwaters have unearthed and dislodged anti-personnel mines dating from the 1992-1995 Bosnia war. Floods have also displaced warning signs that had marked mine fields, heightening the risk of accidents. Mine maps will now need to be updated. Although the scale of the problem remains unknown, three areas containing mines have already been identified: Bosenska Krupa (northwest), Visoko (centre) and Olovo (east).

'A mine already exploded'

Handicap International is concerned about the potentially disastrous impact on civilians: “The floodwaters have deposited mines in unknown areas, posing a threat to communities, which are unaware of the dangers,” explains Gilles Delecourt, Director of Anti-Mines Action at Handicap International. “One mine exploded near Cerika on Monday 19 May, but fortunately no one was hurt. This shows how vulnerable people are to these terrible weapons.” The organisation, which performed anti-mine actions in Bosnia until December 2012, has contacted the Bosnian authorities to discuss how best to respond to this renewed threat.

Bosnia is the most mined country in Europe. According to official figures , more than 120,000 mines are left from the 1992-1995 Bosnia war. Since 1992, more than 8,000 people have been killed or injured by anti-personnel mines or explosive remnants of war in Bosnia.