Since its establishment in 2008, UNMAS has achieved the following in the Territory of Western Sahara:
- 147,513,196 square meters of hazardous areas released and/or cleared.
- 35 of 61 known minefields and 425 of 498 known cluster strike areas cleared
- 9,278 km of routes verified or cleared for UN military observers’ patrols (1,181 km verified since 1 July 2015)
- 7,866 landmines removed and destroyed
- 8,372 explosive remnants of war (ERW) destroyed
- 23,643 sub-munitions destroyed
- 3,228 MINURSO personnel received ERW Awareness Briefings
- 73,044 local and nomadic people received risk education (RE)
- 252 individuals (28 survivors of mine accidents and 224 of their dependents) received victim assistance. Over 1,000 mine victims have been recorded east of the berm.
Both sides of the 1,465 km (out of 2,700 km) berm dividing the Territory of Western Sahara remain significantly contaminated with landmines and ERW as a result of the armed conflict from 1975 until 1991 between the Royal Moroccan Army and the Polisario Front. These explosive hazards continue to endanger the lives of local nomads, daily activities in settlements, as well as the livestock on which they are dependent, United Nations military observers monitoring the ceasefire and humanitarian workers.
UNMAS operates as a component of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Operating from the MINURSO Headquarters in Laayoune (Territory of Western Sahara) and the MINURSO Liaison Office in Tindouf (Algeria), UNMAS in the Territory of Western Sahara serves as the United Nations focal point for mine action related activities within the MINURSO area of operations. Thanks to funding from donors, UNMAS has also reduced the threat posed by landmines and ERW by conducting humanitarian mine clearance, stockpile destructions, RE, capacity enhancement and by providing assistance to survivors of mine/ERW accidents.
Activities under the MINURSO Assessed Budget
Since 2008, UNMAS has played a critical role in facilitating MINURSO’s mandate. By clearing minefields and cluster munition strike areas as well as conducting route verification, UNMAS successfully enables safe passage for MINURSO military observers to monitor the ceasefire between the parties to the conflict, humanitarian aid workers and vulnerable local and nomadic populations. In addition, UNMAS also delivers ERW Awareness Briefings to MINURSO military and civilian personnel, contributing to a safer environment for peacekeeping operations. In line with the UN and UNMAS gender strategies and the Sustainable Development Goals, UNMAS continues to encourage gender equality in mine action and peace operations.
Activities under the Voluntary Trust Fund
Through the generous contributions from the Government of Spain, UNMAS is currently supporting the socio-economic reintegration of survivors of landmine/ERW accidents in the Sahrawi refugee camps of Tindouf (Algeria) in cooperation with the Sahrawi Association of Victims of Landmines (ASAVIM). Moreover, UNMAS supports the Sahrawi Mine Action Coordination Office (SMACO) with unearmarked funding from the Government of Denmark, which has been allocated towards the daily operational management of mine action related activities east of the berm. In addition, UNMAS supports the SMACO through capacity enhancement, towards independent coordination of mine action activities in accordance with International and Local Mine action Standards (I/LMAS).
UNMAS operations in the Territory of Western Sahara are funded primarily by the United Nations peacekeeping budget (USD 3.265 million per year). In addition, the Government of Spain is supporting UNMAS through 2019 with USD 67,660. The Government of Denmark has also contributed USD 60,000.
UNMAS is seeking an additional USD 3.5 million to clear all known landmine/ERW contamination in the Territory of Western Sahara, east of the berm (excluding the buffer zone). Funding is also sought to support victim assistance, RE and capacity enhancement of the SMACO towards independent self-sustainable management and coordination of mine action activities.
Thanks to the contributions from the Governments of Spain and Denmark, UNMAS provides assistance to survivors of landmine/ERW accidents and supports the Sahrawi Mine Action Coordination Office.
For more information:
Leon Louw, Programme Manager, UNMAS Programme in the Territoty of Western Sahara, LouwL[at]un.org
Robert Thompson, Chief of Operations, UNMAS Programme in the Territoty of Western Sahara, robert.thompson[at]un.org
Miral Assuli, Programme Officer, UNMAS Programme in the Territoty of Western Sahara, assuli2[at]un.org
Updated: June 2019