Mine Action

Last updated: 24 December 2013

Abkhazia’s contamination no longer includes mined areas or cluster munition-contaminated areas although it does have a residual threat from other unexploded ordnance (UXO).


Abkhazia was contaminated with mines during the 1992–1993 conflict between the breakaway area and the government of Georgia.[1] In October 2011, HALO Trust completed clearance and declared Abkhazia to be mine-free.[2] Over a 14-year period from 1997 through October 2011, HALO cleared 336 mined and battle areas, covering an area of more than 15km2. In the process, they found and destroyed 9,788 mines and 48,998 items of explosive ordnance while using as many as 530 manual deminers at one point during the program. HALO also cleared more than 25,000 items of explosive ordnance from ammunition stores in Kodori bombed during the conflict.[3]

Speaking in Abkhazia in November 2011, Director of HALO Trust Guy Willoughby said “It is great news that after 14 years we can announce the complete clearance of all 336 known mined areas in Abkhazia, in line with Article 5 of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty.”[4] Mine clearance has resulted in safe transit in the upper Kodori region and agricultural use of the cleared land, including vineyards.[5]

Cluster munitions remnants 

Cluster munitions were used in relatively limited quantities during the 1992–1993 conflict. HALO records all cluster munition remnants as UXO so is therefore unable to report the total number they have found and destroyed. In early 2010, the organization learned of a contaminated area in Jal village in Ochamchira region when local villagers attempted to farm previously cleared land and found cluster munition remnants, revealing the extent of the strike to be greater than had been believed. On 14 May 2010, HALO completed subsurface cluster munition clearance on the site. There remain no known areas containing cluster munition remnants in Abkhazia.[6]

Explosive remnants of war

Abkhazia is also contaminated with explosive remnants of war (ERW), primarily UXO, although there is no requirement for systematic ERW clearance in Abkhazia. The remaining problem is from stray small arms ammunition and individual items or ordnance, including unexploded air-dropped bombs. HALO destroyed almost 500 items of UXO in 2011.[7] It reports that UXO and small arms ammunition do not hinder livelihoods or other activities.[8]

Mine Action Program

There is no mine action authority in Abkhazia. Mine action data collection, planning, and operational coordination have been provided by the Abkhaz Mine Action Office (AMAO), formerly known as the Abkhazia Mine Action Center (AMAC), which was established by HALO in 1999.[9]

HALO expects that items of ordnance will occasionally be found in Abkhazia. It planned to support AMAO to maintain emergency call-out facilities for the disposal of single items of UXO that may be found by farmers. AMAO will also maintain the mine action database with detailed maps of all the districts to advise agricultural and tourism developers who may need information in the years ahead.[10] AMAO—with two explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and two mine clearance teams—will maintain EOD call-out and mine clearance capacities in Sukhumi and Gori.[11] In 2013, HALO continued removing UXO in Abkhazia at the rate of finding three UXO per day.[12]


[1] HALO Trust, “Georgia, The problem,” undated.

[2] HALO Trust, “Abkhazia 1997–2011,” undated.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Andrew Moore, HALO Trust, 4 March 2011.

[7] Email from Andrew Moore, HALO Trust, 26 April 2010; and response to Monitor questionnaire, 4 March 2011.

[8] Interview with Andrew Moore, HALO Trust, in Phnom Penh, 1 December 2011.

[9] “Report on HALO Trust program in Abkhazia,” June 2005, provided by David McMahon, HALO Trust; and email from David McMahon, 1 August 2005.

[10] HALO Trust, “Abkhazia 1997–2011,” undated.

[11] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Andrew Moore, HALO Trust, 4 March 2011.

[12] Interview with Valon Kumnova, HALO Trust, in Geneva, 4 December 2013.