Coordination and monitoring of humanitarian mine action for UXO/ERW hotspots clearance

What is the project about?

Clearance operator during operations identifying an unexploded ordnance
Clearance operator during operations identifying an unexploded ordnance. (Credit: UNDP Albania)

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination remain a widespread problem in Albania. Among the causes of such contamination are explosions at Ammunition Storage Sites (ASS) across the country during the civil unrest in 1997, unexploded remains of the WW II as well as former army ammunition demolition areas which need to be cleared of explosive remnants. According to Albanian Mines and Munitions Coordination Office (AMMCO) database, since 1995, 979 casualties from mine/UXO accidents have been recorded throughout the country (143 people died and 836 were injured).

Recent technical assessments carried out by AMMCO on hotspot areas  concluded that the latter contain still live and dumped ammunition, 1.7 million m² were identified as contaminated in at least 10 hotspots, constituting a considerable risk for life or serious injuries. Apart from the threat to civilians, this type of contamination further aggravates the increased demand and pressure on agriculture land.

The Government of Albania and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have outlined a Plan of Action within its demilitarization framework, aiming to clear all UXO/ERW hotspot areas by 2015.

In response to this situation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, UNDP Albania has launched since 2011 a new programme on “Coordination and monitoring of humanitarian mine action for UXO/ERW hotspots clearance in Albania”.

The implementation of the programme is entrusted to team of national experts, whose capacities have been built through a previous decade-long UNDP assistance in cooperation with other international donors in mine action programme in Albania. Such assistance successfully concluded with the clearance of all landmine and cluster munitions contaminated areas in north-eastern Albania by 2009.

This team of experts now operates under the name of Albanian Mines and Munitions Coordination Office (AMMCO) and is presently working in the area of hotspots clearance and ammunition disposal ensuring that these operations are carried out safely and effectively in accordance with the International Humanitarian Standards.

The programme has several components focusing on improving physical security stockpile management (PSSM) of ammunition; upgrading current safety disposal practices in line with international standards; enlarging the demilitarization framework to include civil community safety. The programme also has a strong public awareness component to alert the public on the dangers of contamination in addition to working to broaden the current mine victim assistance scheme, developed for the northeast, to target all UXO/ERW victims around Albania.

What we do?

AMMCO coordinates and monitors the UXO/ERW hotspots clearance operations, undertakes risk education and victim assistance activities and supports the Government of Albania in complying with the relevant international conventions in the area of disarmament and disability. As such, AMMCO is responsible for:

  • Reviewing existing safety standards on UXO/ERW hotspots clearance and ammunition disposal and upgrading them in compliance with the International Humanitarian Standards.
  • Monitoring ammunition clearance and disposal operations to ensure that procedures are carried out in strict compliance with the Albanian Armed Forces safety rules and the international standards.
  • Coordinating and closely monitoring transportation of the explosive items collected in the contaminated hotspots.
  • Conducting detailed technical and socio-economic impact assessments of the hotspots and propose the priorities for clearance.
  • Ensuring safety of cleared land through quality assurance and quality control.
  • Certifying the land cleared by the clearance operators and hand it over to the local community for further use.
  • Working together with local communities in designing and implementing public awareness and risk education programs aimed to raise awareness on ammunition threat and prevent new accidents among civilians in hotspot areas.
  • Working towards expanding Albania’s existing victim assistance programme to further contribute to physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support, socio-economic reintegration, and data collection on affected persons, implementation of relevant laws and policies for all mine/UXO victims throughout Albania.
  • Providing support to the Government of Albania in meeting the reporting obligations under several disarmament conventions such as the anti-personnel mines ban convention, cluster munitions convention.

What have we accomplished so far?



AMMCO Technical Assessment in Durres Hotspot
AMMCO Technical Assessment in Durres Hotspot
  • From 2012 to 2014, an area of about 176,000 sqm was cleared and released by non-technical means of UXO and ERW in eight different ammunition hotspots namely: Gryka e Manatise, Ura e Gjadrit, , Brezhdan, Rreshen, Otllake, Shetaj, Berzhite, Pilur and Gjeroven.
  • From 2012 to 2014, about 25,170 dangerous explosive items, including artillery ammunition, fuses, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms ammunition were destroyed in the aforementioned hotspots.
  •  During 2014, upon the request of the Ministry of Defense, ongoing quality control of EOD-AAF unit clearance operations was carried out, in so-called E, C and G zones of Gerdec hotspot, at an overall surface of 34,587 sqm, out of which a surface of 22,587.4 m ², in the Zone C was certified as ammunitions free.
  •  From December 2012 to December 2014, an overall area of  1,340,053 sqm in 15 former military ammunition depots of Gjegjan – Puke; Voskopoje and Lozhane – Korce; Mezhgoran-Tepelene; Bigas and Radesh- Skrapar; Qafe Molle 3-Tirane; Ullishte, Murrash and Shkumbin-Elbasan; Mollez, Qafe Shtame and Macukull-Burrel; Selite and Shermill-Tirane, is quality controlled and certified as free from ammunitions.
  • During 2013-2014 a thorough “Needs Assessment of Socio-Economic and Medical needs of marginalized Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) victims in Albania” was conducted in eight regions; Shkodër, Lezhë, Korçë, Elbasan, Durrës, Peshkopi, Gjirokastër and Berat, in order to review the status of the survivors, to identify their specific needs and draft due recommendations so the Government provide them with the relevant assistance.
  • During 2013-2014 about 130 EOD specialists and medics are trained about First Aid with ICRC support.
  • The Prosthetic Workshop at Kukes Regional Hospital was provided with new equipment, raw materials and components to assist the mine/ERW survivors and other people in need, At least 120 amputees recived either new prostheses or major repairs at this prosthetic workshop.
  • During 2013-2014, about 1,255 T-shirts, 40 caps and 1500 pens with risk education messages“Municionet vrasin” (Ammunition kill) and “Mos prek municionet” (Don’t touch ammunition) were distributed in areas surrounding the UXO/ERW hotspots. 13,800 inhabitants including men, women, boys and girls where targeted with rick education acivities.
  • During 2013-2014, about seven annual transparency reports under the APM Ban Convention, Cluster Munitions Convention and Convention on Conventional Weapons, ratified by Albania, were submitted to the respective UN Secretariats.

Who finances it?

  Amount per year    
Donor
2011 2012
2013
2014 2015
UNDP 124,620 50,000 $20,987    
One UN programme 160,000        
BCPR   110,780      
ITF Slovenia /UNMAS     142,857 $135,870  
German Government          
USA through ITF Slovenia         $138,606

Delivery

Year Total Delivery
2011 $224,520
2012 $219,233
2013 $186,073
2014 $137.514
Project Overview
Status
Active
Project duration:
December 2011 - December 2014
Geographic coverage
Throughout Albania
MDG
1, 7
Programme Officer
Vladimir Malkaj
Project Manager
Arben Braha
Partners
Ministry of Defence (MoD) Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Ministry of Health (MoH) Kukes Regional Hospital Local Authorities in the hotspot contaminated areas Albanian Red Cross ALB-AID University Institute of Rehabilitation Slovenia International Trust Fund in Slovenia Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining International Committee of Red Cross