Somalia

More than three million square metres of land cleared of landmines in Puntland and Galmudug, Somalia

Mogadishu, 16 December 2021 – A long-running project to clear two districts – Dhabad and Galdogob – of landmines in Galmadug and Puntland, in northern Somalia, is coming to an end this month, leaving millions of square metres of land mine-free and safe for local residents to use.

Funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) with support from the HALO Trust, the ‘Community-based mine action as a means to promote peace and stability in Somalia’ project ran from October 2020 to December 2021.

“Implemented by community-based teams with funds from the EU, the explosive hazard threat in these locations has been systematically reduced to enable the safe use of land resources previously blocked by landmines and explosive remnants of war, while providing employment opportunities for local youth,” said the Director-General of the Somali Explosives Management Agency (SEMA), Dahir Abdirahman Abdulle.

Working with its implementing partner, the HALO Trust, UNMAS implemented the systematic clearance of minefields and confirmed hazardous areas in the districts, while detecting and destroying landmines and unexploded ordnance. Altogether, more than half a million square metres of land containing minefields and an additional three million square metres of land previously used as battle areas were made safe for local residents.

The project also provided employment opportunities for more than 113 local community members, bringing a new source of income for their households while concurrently fostering a sense of ownership of the solution to the landmine problem. It also helped reduce the propensity of local young men and women to engage in activities that may lead to further insecurity.

"The people of these districts can now hope for a better future, for their children to return safely from school, their livestock to graze freely, their businesses to start up again and the once-bustling commerce between villages restored. A sense of normal life can return with economic opportunities and everyday activities afforded by the reduced exposure to insecurity – the European Union is proud to have been a part of this project,” said the Regional Programme Manager of the EU Delegation in Kenya, Steven De Vriendt.

Concurrently, the communities living in Dhabad and Galdogob were provided with explosive ordnance risk education to enhance their safety awareness, with more than 12,000 individuals educated on the topic. Also, 650 Risk Education Talking Devices embedded with awareness messages were distributed in the two communities.

Deadline extension

On a broader scale, Somalia has been granted an extension to its obligation to meet the current implementation deadline spelled out by Article 5 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) – a key step in the country’s path to becoming mine-free. Article 5 sets out time-bound obligations for all signatories to address areas known or suspected to have landmines.

In November, Somalia participated in the 19th Meeting of State Parties (19MSP) to the APMBC, which took place in The Hague, Netherlands. There, SEMA formally presented Somalia’s request to extend the implementation deadline and was granted an extension to 1 October 2027.

The new deadline will provide Somalia and its mine action partners with adequate opportunities for resource mobilization, a more extensive and comprehensive survey of the explosive hazard contamination across the country, the development of a detailed road map and the expansion of operational activities to assure timely compliance with its mine clearance obligations.

EU support

Somalia’s participation at the 19MSP was made possible with financial support from the EU, which also donated assorted office and information and communication technology equipment to SEMA Headquarters in Mogadishu and to six SEMA satellite offices in Somalia’s Federal Member States.

The capacity-building support to SEMA is part of a focused intervention to strengthen national institutions to dispense oversight functions, and to coordinate the work of humanitarian mine action partners.

“This four-way project is an example of how partnerships can help achieve a more secure Somalia. For example, more than 98 per cent of the HALO Trust teams were local Somalis, with some 70 per cent of them being youth drawn from the vulnerable communities. This partnership also enabled collaborative work with SEMA to secure a five-year extension to Somalia’s APMBC deadline,” said UNMAS’ Chief of the Mine Action Programme in Somalia, Qurat-ul-Ain Sadozai.

“It is paramount that continued support be accorded to the oversight and operational capabilities of SEMA to ensure the work of mine action partners benefits the most vulnerable people in society,” Ms. Sadozai added. “I thank the EU for its generous contribution towards the cause of peace and stability, and we look forward to similar partnerships that contribute to the elimination of explosive threats in Somalia.”

According to UNMAS, Somalia is one of the countries most affected by landmines and other explosive devices, with civilians continuing to incur significant casualties as they look to recover and rebuild from decades of conflict.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Qurat-ul-Ain Sadozai, UNMAS Chief Mine Action Programme, Mogadishu, Somalia, sadozai@un.org

Ms. Hafssa Soufiane, UNMAS Public Information Officer, Mogadishu, Somalia, hafssa.soufiane@un.org