UNDP and EU conclude three-year demining project to improve security along Türkiye’s eastern frontier

December 12, 2023
People in a conference room, camera focused on a persons cellphone taking a photo of the stage
Photo: Bora Akbay

US$23.8 million initiative cleared 94 minefields and 50,000 landmines along Turkish border with Armenia and Iran

Ankara, 12 December 2023 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the European Union (EU) and the Turkish Mine Action Center (TURMAC) today marked the successful conclusion of a three-year, US$23.8-million project that cleared 94 minefields and 50,000 landmines from Türkiye’s eastern frontier. The project has made 4.2 million square meters of land along the border with Armenia and Iran safe for local civilians and border management personnel, and also completed the mapping of all remaining active minefields in the country.

Funded with US$21.3 from the EU and US$2.5 million from the Turkish Government, this achievement builds on two earlier phases that, since 2016, successfully cleared a total of 95,000 mines and rendered 8.9 million square meters of territory mine-free, supported by a total of US$47.5 million in EU and government funding.

“Demining is often misunderstood,” said UNDP Resident Representative Louisa Vinton, “but the truth is that landmines make borders less rather than more secure, particularly for the personnel charged with protecting the frontier. In removing landmines, we help Türkiye apply a humanitarian approach to border management, while ensuring that shepherds and other civilians remain safe and border patrols can operate in safety and security.”

50,000 mines have been removed from the yellow-highlighted border areas of Türkiye, 2021-2023.

Ambassador Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, Head of the EU Delegation, said: “The EU’s support to the removal of landmines also helps Türkiye meet its responsibilities under the Ottawa Convention, which bans the use of anti-personnel landmines. Building on the achievements of the past eight years, we believe that Türkiye has the capability to accelerate its progress towards full compliance its commitments under the Convention.”

In signing the Ottawa Convention – the short name for the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention – in 2004, Türkiye agreed to phase out all anti-personnel landmines and establish a humanitarian border surveillance system.

In addition to the demining work, UNDP contractors worked for three years with TURMAC to determine the contours of 3,451 active minefields in eastern and southern border areas. This work, which completes the mapping of all active landmines in the country, is vital to any planning for future demining efforts. 

In addition to clearing mines, the project has provided training to TURMAC personnel in areas including quality management, work with mine detection dogs (MDDs), technical survey operations including data management and analysis, and promoting gender equality. The project trained and employed Türkiye’s two first female MDD handlers. These were among 300 jobs created by the project, in diverse roles such as deminers, medics and drivers.

The project also worked with civil society organisations to ensure that residents of areas where minefields are located understand the risks posed by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Nineteen educational sessions were held in the districts of Bitlis, Tunceli and Muş, with the participation of 1,853 local residents. Another 533 villagers received guidance on landmines from the surveyors who conducted the mapping of active minefields.  

Looking to the future, the cleared land holds promise for the local economy, providing opportunities for tourism (as in the case of the Horomos ruins) as well as livestock raising and farming – vital occupations in the region. This approach ensures that the benefits of the project will continue to resonate in the community for the long term.

Türkiye is one of 30 countries where UNDP is working to support demining and national mine action authorities.


For “Türkiye’s first women demining dog handlers” video: 


For “Human Stories” videos:


For “Danger Mines” video released in April 2019:


For the International Mine Awareness Day video with Olympic medalist national gymnast Ferhat Arıcan released in April 2021:

For more information: 
Miray Akdag, Press Counsellor of the EU in Türkiye, miray.akdag@eeas.europa.eu
Bahar Paykoç, UNDP Türkiye Communications Officer, bahar.paykoc@undp.org