Damascus, 1 December 2022 – With the support from several generous donors and in close coordination with the Government of Syria, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Syria Response Programme through its implementing partner the Armenian Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise (ACHDE) signed the first handover certificate of cleared land in Darayya, Rural Damascus, Syria.
Twelve years into the crisis, explosive ordnance contamination continues to have a devastating impact on people’s lives in Syria. Contamination has been and will be continuously threatening lives and hampering access to basic services including medical facilities and the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country. To minimize the threat of explosive ordnance for communities most at risk, in December 2021 UNMAS started a pilot clearance project in Darayya, Rural Damascus, through its implementing partner the Armenian Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise (ACHDE). The launch of the pilot clearance project and the demolition of explosive items represented a significant milestone for UNMAS and the mine action sector in Syria, being the first demolition entirely conducted, controlled and quality checked by humanitarian mine action actors in Government Controlled area.
Darayya is predominantly agricultural and the UNMAS pilot clearance project is bringing back productive land for much-needed agricultural production, contributing to better livelihoods for the vulnerable Syrian people. Before the clearance project started, Mr. Noor, a local resident in Darayya, Rural Damascus, found multiple explosive ordnance items in the area, which was a cause of anxiety for him. “Before you came, I was planning to sell my land, as I am 75 years old and had lost the will to start over again” - he told the clearance teams - “I am very thankful for everyone who made this happen and especially the team who participated in this project. I have decided to stay to plant my land. I am truly thankful for everyone.”
During the period from December 2021 to November 2022, UNMAS implementing partner, ACHDE, cleared around two million square meters of agricultural land, where it was able to conduct 55 demolitions to destroy 518 Explosive Ordnance.
UNMAS is deeply committed to a safe and resilient approach and support for the Syrian populations.
The contribution from all the stakeholders was critical to reducing the threat of explosive ordnance for communities most at risk. Nevertheless, while needs are significant, the current funding and technical capacity support to humanitarian mine action remain extremely limited. UNMAS will continue their strong commitment to support the Syrian people through humanitarian mine action activities in the country.
For further information, please contact:
Ms. Francesca Chiaudani: Programme Officer - Mine Action sub-sector Coordinator, UNMAS Syria Response Programme (Francescac@unops.org)