Western Sahara


Last updated: 13 July 2017

Casualties Overview

All known casualties by end 2016

At least 2,500

Casualties occurring in 2016

34 (2015: 47)

2016 casualties by survival outcome

6 killed; 26 injured; 2 unknown (2015: 13 killed; 33 injured; 1 unknown)

2016 casualties by item type

2 antipersonnel mine; 13 antivehicle mines; 8 unspecified mines; 8 explosive remnant of war (ERW)


In 2016, the Monitor identified 34 mine/ERW casualties in Western Sahara. Most (19) casualties were civilians, three were military, and 12 were of unknown civil status. Nineteen casualties were male, three were female, and 12 were of unknown sex. Thirteen were adults, four were children, and 17 were of unknown age group. Antivehicle mines caused more casualties (13) than any other mine/ERW type.[1]

The majority of casualties, 24 (71%), were in in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara (west of the berm[2]), and 8 (24%) occurred in Polisario-controlled Western Sahara (east of the berm, also known as the Liberated Territories). The remaining two casualties occurred in the buffer zone.

For 2016, Morocco reported 19 mine/ERW casualties, two people killed and 17 injured, including in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara (west of the berm).[3] No details were provided on exact locations.

The 34 casualties identified in 2016 represent a decrease from the 47 casualties identified in 2015, although it is more than the 23 casualties reported in 2014. Casualty data is not comprehensive, making it difficult to determine clear casualty trends over time. However, in 2017, UNMAS reported that it had begun conducting a continued review of casualty data and verifying it against historical data.[4]

The total number of mine/ERW casualties in Western Sahara is not known. Morocco reported a total of 2,536 mine/ERW casualties (831 killed; 1,705 injured) from 1975 to the end of 2012; it was not reported how many of these occurred in Morocco versus Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara.[5] In 2014, the Saharawi Association of Landmine Victims (ASAVIM) had collected detailed information on 1,006 victims of mines, cluster munitions, and other ERW who are living in and around the Rabouni refugee camps on the Algerian border with Western Sahara.[6]

Cluster munition casualties

In total, 182 cluster munition casualties have been identified in Western Sahara. No unexploded cluster submunition casualties were reported in 2016. There were four unexploded cluster submunition casualties in 2015, including at least one child.[7] Prior to that, in September 2013, a boy was injured by an unexploded submunition.[8] ASAVIM identified 177 casualties of unexploded submunitions occurring between 1975 and 2012.[9]

[1] Casualty data provided by email from Virginie Auger, Associate Programme Officer, UNMAS, 30 March 2017; and by email from Elisa Pavon Mulero, Dales Voz a Las Victimas, 21 March 2017; and GICHD, “Anti-Vehicle Mine (AVM) Incidents map,” 2017.

[2] Berms are earthen walls about three meters high that Morocco built in 1982–1987 to secure the northwestern corner of Western Sahara.

[3] Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016).,

[4] Email from Virginie Auger, UNMAS, 30 March 2017.

[5] Morocco, Mine Ban Treaty Voluntary Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2012), Form I, April 2013.

[6] In the SADR, Convention on Cluster Munitions voluntary Article 7 Report (reporting period 2005 to June 2014), submitted 16 June 2014, Form H the Polisario authorities reported a total of 1,413 people killed and injured by mines/ERW through April 2014. Polisario authorities cited the ASAVIM database as the source for their casualty data, though ASAVIM was unable to confirm the total reported by the Polisario authorities. Email from Awala Lehib, ASAVIM, 10 August 2014.

[7] Casualty data provided by email from Graeme Abernethy, Programme Manager, UNMAS, 6 February 2016.

[8] Email from Jonas Tappolet, MINURSO MACC, 4 June 2014.

[9] Email from Gaici Nah Bachir, Advisor, ASAVIM, 24 July 2013.