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Somalia: Puntland authorities destroy anti-personnel mines

24th July 2008 | Somalia - Landmine ban

Geneva/Garowe, 24 July 2008 – On 24 July 2008, the Puntland Mine Action Centre (PMAC), with technical support from Mines Advisory Group (MAG), destroyed 48 stockpiled antipersonnel (AP) mines near Garowe, in accordance with the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action. The Puntland authorities are a signatory to the Deed of Commitment, which pledges them to banning the use, production, acquisition and transfer of AP mines, to destroying their AP mine stocks, and to facilitating mine action activities.

Asked about the event, Mr. Yassin Ali Abdulle, Vice-Minister of Interior and Security, stressed that “Puntland is determined to destroy its AP mine stockpile in compliance with the Deed of Commitment and will continue to facilitate mine action to the best of its ability. We are grateful for the support provided to date in the form of landmine impact surveys and, more recently, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). But we also hope that today’s successful operation will help mobilize resources to begin clearing areas contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in order to prevent future accidents and release contaminated land for the communities to use.” According to local authorities, AP mines and other dangerous explosive items  claim civilian casualties every year. In a recent, dramatic event on 10 July 2008, three children were killed and six injured when a 106mm high explosive anti-tank projectile exploded as children were playing with it on a school football field. MAG and PMAC went down to the accident scene immediately to ensure that no dangerous items remained following the explosion and delivered emergency mine risk education to 80 school teachers. Following meetings with the town elders a ‘UXO hotline’ has been set up for the community to report items of UXO which are then collected and destroyed.

The 48 PMP-71 mines destroyed in Garowe were first disclosed to Geneva Call during a field mission in November 2004. The volatile security situation in Somalia and difficulties in securing donor interest delayed their destruction. PMAC and MAG are in the process of training EOD teams and completing an inventory of mines and other explosive ordnances in Puntland’s military camps requiring urgent and safe disposal. Items scheduled for future destruction, security conditions permitting, include the BM-21 rockets and anti-vehicle mines observed by Geneva Call in a military compound in Galkayo in July

2007. MAG is funded in Somalia by the US State Department Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

 

For additional information, please contact:

Pascal Bongard, Geneva Call Programme Director, +41 76 588 19 68, info@genevacall.org

Simon Wooldridge, MAG Somalia Project Manager, +252 5 794741, simon.wooldridge@maginternational.org

Abdiaziz Yousof Ahmed, PMAC Operations Manager, +252 5 746944, abdiaziz77@hotmail.com