Mine Action

Last updated: 28 November 2013

Contamination and Impact


The Republic of Mali has a problem with antivehicle mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the north of the country but (as of March 2013) no reports had confirmed the presence of antipersonnel mines.[1]Mali has not submitted a Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report since 2005 and at that time declared that there were no areas containing antipersonnel mines on its territory.[2]

In September 2009, Mali reported the presence of 80 mined areas in the regions of Tombouctou and Kidal, particularly along the roads between Tinza and Abubaza,[3] and it repeated this information in September 2010, suggesting limited progress in demining; however, the extent of the threat is not known.[4]

The upsurge in conflicts in Mali in 2012 resulted in reports of mine laying around the northern town of Gao by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and an offshoot, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO).[5] The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) said in March 2013 that it had received reports of antivehicle mines in the Kidal region being cleared towards Tin and Zaotene, and could only provide evidence of antivehicle mines.[6]

Cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war

Mali has significant explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid, freedom of movement, and efforts to stabilize and rebuild the economy in the aftermath of its civil war. Aerial attacks, artillery bombardments, and ground fighting in central and northern Mali left extensive unexploded and abandoned explosive ordnance ranging from grenades, mortars, and rockets to artillery shells and aircraft bombs. The towns of Diabaly, Douentza, Konna, and Gao were reportedly among the worst affected.[7]

Handicap International (HI) conducted a rapid assessment of the area around Segou and Mopti in January 2013 and concluded there was three to four months of work for approximately four explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams.[8]

As of March 2013, there was no evidence of contamination involving cluster munitions, but the UN reported multiple threats from IEDs.[9]

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators


Situation on 1 January 2013

National Mine Action Authority


Mine action center


International demining operators

HI, Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB)

National demining operators

Malian Armed Forces

Mali set up the National Commission for the Total Ban of Antipersonnel Mines (Commission Nationale pour l’Interdiction Totale des Mines Antipersonnel, CNITMA) in June 2002 with the participation of three ministries (Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Security) to serve as the national mine action authority.[10] By the start of 2013, it did not appear to be functioning.

UNMAS established a presence in Mali in November 2012 to coordinate international mine action operators and by the end of March 2013 had five international and two national staff. Sweden’s MSB provided support in the form of an Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) and two EOD teams. Other operators were preparing to deploy survey and clearance teams.[11]

Land release

Demining in Mali has been carried out by the army’s two engineering teams using manual clearance methods and their own standing operating procedures. It has not reported in any detail on clearance in recent years and no data was available for clearance in 2012.

In the first quarter of 2013, UNMAS provided EOD training to International Mine Action Standard (IMAS) Level 2 for 14 army engineers and 16 personnel from other Malian national security organizations.[12]

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty, Mali was required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2009. Mali has never declared a problem with antipersonnel mines and did not request an extension to its Article 5 deadline.


[1] Email from Charles Frisby, UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), Mali Programme Manager, 29 March 2013.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period 1 May 2004 to 1 May 2005), Form C.

[3] Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), “Mali: Overview of information on mine action and ERW including submunitions,” Second African Francophone Seminar on Mine and ERW Action, Dakar, Senegal, 2–4 November 2009.

[4] GICHD, “Mali: Overview of information on mine action and ERW including submunitions,” Third African Francophone Seminar on Mine and ERW Action, Nouakchott, Mauritania, 27–30 September 2010.

[5]Al Qaeda has mined access to key northern town: Tuareg rebels,” Agence France Presse, 2 July 2012.

[6] Email from Charles Frisby, UNMAS, 29 March 2013.

[7]Abandoned munitions endanger lives in Mali,” IRIN, 19 March 2013; and “Malians return to deadly ground,” Handicap International (HI), 31 July 2013.

[8] Email from Charles Frisby, UNMAS, 29 March 2013.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Presentation of Mali, “Lutte anti mines au Mali” (“Fight against mines in Mali”), Seminar of African Francophone Actors of Mine and ERW Action, Contonou, Benin, 20–22 October 2008.

[11] Email from Charles Frisby, UNMAS, 29 March 2013.

[12] Ibid.