PRESS RELEASE APRIL THE 4TH – INTERNATIONAL MINE ACTION DAY
Twenty two years after the end of the conflict, BiH is the most affected country with mine problem in Europe. The current size of suspected hazardous area in BiH is 1,091 km2 or 2.2% of the whole area of the country. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there is still remaining more than 80,000 mines/ERWs. Mine problem is present in 129 municipalities/cities, or 1,398 affected communities/settlements. Mine/ERW contamination directly affects the safety of around 545,000 people or 15% of the total population of BiH. Ten the most affected municipalities in BiH are: Doboj, Teslić, Maglaj, Usora, Zavidovići, Gornji Vakuf, Sanski Most, Velika Kladuša, Travnik and Ilijaš.
In the post war period in BiH there were 1,752 casualties of which 613 were fatal. Out of the total number of victims, 184 victims were women or 10%, and 249 victims were children, or 14%. During the execution of humanitarian demining in Bosnia and Herzegovina there were 127 demining casualties, out of which 51 were fatal. In 2016 there were 12 casualties, of which 6 were fatal. In 2017 one person was killed in a mine accident.
Since the beginning of mine action implementation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996 until the end of 2016 in Bosnia and Herzegovina was released 3,109 km2 of suspected hazardous area and returned to use to final beneficiaries, or 74% of the initially estimated area. In humanitarian demining operations it was found and destroyed 64,493 anti-personnel mines, 8,444 anti-tank mines and 56,192 pieces of ERW.
Mine Action Strategy 2009-2019 envisages that mine problem in BiH should be solved by 2019. The implementation of the Strategy for the period 2009-2016, in the field of return of suspected hazardous area to final beneficiaries is at the level of 50% (593 km2 were returned), and it will not be possible to implement the Strategy by the end of planned period. The reason lies in the lack of financial resources. In the period from 2009 to 2016 it was provided 50% or 334.4 million KM. From national and donor resources the funds were provided in the planned ammount (ratio of 51-49%), and from additional resources of BiH funds were not provided. Due to lack of funds, average usage of accredited resources for humanitarian demining operations was 30%.
In order to speed up the process, Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center has developed technical regulations for inclusion of the concept of “Land release” – return of the area, which includes the introduction of targeted and systematic investigation into the technical survey operations. Results on realized projects so far in the period 2014-2016 show that application of this concept will greatly accelerate and cheapen the process of returning of suspected hazardous area. With this objective, activities have been initiated on the amendments to all chapters of the Standard for Mine Clearance in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Standard Operating Procedures for humanitarian demining in Bosnia and Herzegovina which will be completed in the first half of 2017.
There are also currently taking place continuing activities on the Law on Amendments to the Law on Demining in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the Working Group appointed by the Council of Ministers, which is composed of representatives of BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs, Demining Commission in BiH, Mine Action Centre in BiH, Armed Forces of BiH and the entities’ Civil protection. The working group has prepared Draft of this Act for which the Ministry of Civil Affairs opened a public consultation process in accordance with the Rules for consultations in drafting legal regulations in institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In accordance with the assessment of the available financial resources for the period 2016-2018, in Bosnia and Herzegovina is planned to resolve 1/3 of the total mine problem for which is necessary to provide 57.7 million KM annually. By the end of 2017 it will be developed exit Strategy of mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the period 2018-2025 in cooperation with the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and in accordance with the Declaration of Maputo + 15, which was adopted in 2014 with the current realistic estimates.