BiH is still burdened with life-threatening mine zones

BiH is still burdened with life-threatening mine zones

More than 20 years after the war, Bosnia and Herzegovina still has to deal with remaining landmines. Despite the efforts of many organizations and companies, and the national demining programme of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BHMAC), functioning under the wider umbrella of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), authorities keep tracking every possible piece of these deadly explosive devices with the sole aim to neutralize them.

Several times in the past it was emphasized that the big problem with the landmines is that there is no precise data about the exact field spots. In a big number of cases, there are no relevant documents or open-area plans or if they did exist and people knew of them, sources are already dead so, now they cannot supply the necessary information.

The second serious problem were the floods of May and August 2014, which caused landslides and minefields were washed away from their original position.

At the recent meeting regarding the issue, the President of the Demining Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Suvad Dzafic, and the Director a.i. of the BHMAC, Sasa Obradovic presented where Bosnia and Herzegovina stands and underscored that there are around 8,796 identified micro locations in BIH, where there are, according to available data, nearly 80,000 mines, cluster munitions and various other explosives, all of them, remnants of the war.

The Board of Donors Meeting organised by the  Ministry of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the Demining Commission in BiH and the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center, in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) focused on the steps that need to be taken in order to make Bosnia and Herzegovina a mine-free state by 2025.

The meeting, which was attended by ambassadors and representatives of international and local institutions and organisations was dedicated to the overview of the status of mine action, as well as to opportunities for improvement and sustainability of mine-action-activities in BiH.

In his introduction, the Minister of Civil Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Adil Osmanović spoke about the results achieved in the period of Mine Action Strategy 2009-2019, during which a total of 45% of the planned demining operations were completed, while a total of 332,5 million BAM (more than 170 million euros) or 49% of the planned demining resources was used. Osmanović talked also of the new mine-action-strategy of the years 2018-2025, which is currently in the making, underscoring the effects of an accelerated and more efficient demining process in order to achieve the safe return of BiH citizens –to areas where they used to live but are now unable to reach due to the existing danger.

“De-mining must not depend solely on the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina”- stressed  Sezin Sinanoglu, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in BiH, underlining the importance of  defining a realistic deadline for the Mine Action Strategy.

Furthermore, Sinanoglu stressed how the lack of resources cannot be used as an excuse for extended deadlines.

During the meeting, the participants discussed about the mine clearance process of all affected areas, as required by the Ottawa Treaty. There are over 1000 km2 of mine-suspected-areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina with the government seeking to push the de-mining deadline to 2025.

Despite all challenges caused by the lack of resources, political and administrative obstacles, the international community encouraged the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina to ensure effective mine action activities in line with the newly defined deadlines.

During the talks, representatives of the donor community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointed out the importance of joint efforts in creating a mine-free country…/IBNA