North Macedonia

Mine Action Office Macedonia - November Report

Source
Posted
Originally published
General
This month the government have been busy establishing their new policies and reorganising their offices and departments. Meetings between UNMAO and the new Ministry of Defence representative Mr. Zlatko Anevski proved very promising for future co-operation.

It has been agreed that the NATO mission in Macedonia will be extended under the name 'Allied Harmony' which will replace 'Amber Fox' after 15 December. It will consist of 300 soldiers, including the civilian component, NATO SG Robertson announced in Brussels yesterday. Jovanovski, the spokesperson of the President, confirmed that the new NATO mandate will last for six months, with the possibility that after the revision in February, the NATO forces may be replaced by EU forces.

Clearance Operations

Clearance work was again very productive this month with the individual teams working in the following areas

a. Handicap International working in the villages of Rogacevo, Staro Selo, Vratnica and Orasje have successfully completed the clearance of all four areas. HI teams will continue to work through December until the 20th or the weather stops them, whichever comes first

b. Care Internationals teams from Mine Tech have successfully completed the clearance of the area of the villages of Semsevo, Zilce, Sincino and Lavce. They have now completed all assigned tasks for this year and plan to stand down from December 2nd until spring 2003.

c. The Civil Protection teams are working in the area of Slucane and Orjzari clearing agricultural land for subsistence farming. Large areas of agricultural land have been handed back to the community this month and the teams continue to work in the same area.

Between the three organisations they have successfully cleared 869561 square meters of ground recovering and disposing of 30 UXO and 7 Anti Tank Mines during the month, also returning a further 8 villages to the community.

On Wednesday 6th of November under the terms of the Ottawa Treaty for the banning of antipersonnel mines the Macedonian Government carried out a stockpile destruction of 22,000 PMR2A.anti personnel mines. The three pictures below show the component parts of these mines which were individually processed. The metal bodies were to be taken to a foundry for recycling, the explosive charges were redirected for training purposes and use in the demolition of UXO during clearance operations and the fuses were destroyed by controlled explosion.

During this month reconnaissance was carried out in the areas of Gevgelija, Kavardaci and Bitola to assess the problem of the existence of UXO still remaining from WW1. It was established that all three areas, once part of the Thessalonica line from 1915 to 1918 are still heavily contaminated with UXO. The two pictures below show a variety of items of UXO recovered in the area of Gevgelija over the past two weeks. These items are randomly uncovered by the local population however a concentrated effort with trained battle area clearance teams would help to clear the area at a much faster rate and minimise the obvious danger to the public.

The ICRC system of emergency response established with the Ministry of Interior (MOI) EOD teams and the Civil Protection teams continue to be very effective with an increasing number of requests being dealt with.

Project Objectives for November

The main objectives for this month were.

a. To continue to support international clearance teams in the field with up to date information on all areas of operations.

b. With the assistance of the ITF continue to support the national clearance teams in the field

c. To continue with assistance to the MOI EOD teams

d. With the aid of the national staff begin to develop National SOPs

e. Identify suitable members of the Civil Protection clearance teams to be trained as supervisors

Project Progress

The European Agency for Reconstruction arranged a press conference this month to inform the national media of the current progress with the clearance programme so far this year and the intention to continue the programme in the spring as soon as the weather will allow.

Assessments of villages within the conflict area and the preparation of target folders for the deployment of the clearance teams are now complete however this does not rule out the identification of new dangerous areas in the future.

The ITF assistance in support of the national clearance teams and their support with the UNMAO clearance programme continues.

External Relations

Relations with the international organisations continue to develop with a continuous exchange of information between OSCE, EUMM, NATO, and the MAO for the updating of IMSMA and for mutual support in the crisis areas and continued assistance to the MOI and CP from the MAO help maintain positive relations with the new government.

Mine Awareness Activities

ICRC in co-ordination with the Macedonian Red Cross (MRC) continues to carry out mine/UXO awareness training throughout the crisis region. Their work with the international clearance teams Community Liaison Teams in the gathering of information on individual items of UXO again has shown a very positive response not only from the civil population but also the MOI and Civil Protection teams with their immediate clearance of items identified.

Project Activities for December

The project activities for December are:

a. To continue to support international clearance teams in the field in all areas of operations until they cease work for the winter

b. With the assistance of the ITF continue to support the national clearance teams in the field until the weather conditions prevent further tasking.

c. To continue with assistance to the MOI EOD teams

d. With the aid of the national staff continue to develop National SOP

e. Identify suitable members of the Civil Protection clearance teams to be trained as supervisors

S Powell
Programme Manager
Macedonia