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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Last Updated: 27 November 2013

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is heavily contaminated with mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), including cluster munition remnants, primarily as a result of the 1992–1995 conflict related to the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Mines

The parties to the conflict placed mines extensively along confrontation lines to block troop movements as well as around strategic facilities, but the front lines moved frequently, leaving contamination that is extensive and generally of low density.[1]

The BiH Mine Action Center (BHMAC) reported total contamination of 1,263km2 at the end of 2012, about 6% less than a year earlier, and said this included 9,802 suspected micro-locations. Of the total area, 278km² was priority category I, 352km2 was category II, and 633km2 was category III.[2]

Most minefields are in the zone of separation between BiH’s two political entities—the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) and Republika Srpska (RS)—which is 1,100km long and up to 4km wide, but mines were placed throughout the country in all types of soil and vegetation. In southern and central BiH, mines were often used randomly, with few records kept. Some of the affected territory is mountainous or heavily forested, but the fertile agricultural belt in Brčko district is one of the most heavily contaminated areas.[3]

A general assessment completed in 2012 identified 1,417 communities and a population of 540,000 as affected by mines, including 136 communities (10%) and 152,000 people at high risk, and 268 communities (19%) with a population of around 180,000 at medium risk. The remaining 1,013 communities (71%) were low risk.[4] BHMAC identified returnees previously displaced by conflict from their communities as comprising about two-thirds of those affected.[5]

Cluster munition remnants

Aircraft of the former Yugoslav republic dropped BL-755 cluster bombs in the early stages of the 1992−1995 war, and there are indications that cluster bombs were subsequently used by NATO forces in Republika Srpska.[6]

The first phase of a general survey completed by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in 2011 identified 140 areas hit by air strikes and artillery, with an estimated total of 3,774 submunitions; additional contamination was located around a former ammunition factory at Pretis that was hit by a NATO air strike, scattering submunitions in the surrounding area. The survey identified 669 suspected hazardous area (SHA) polygons covering a total of 12.18km2, of which 3.23km2 is believed to be high-risk. Some 5km2 is contaminated by artillery-delivered submunitions, 3.9km2 by BL-755, and 3.1km2 by KB-1 submunition remnants.[7] SHAs were found in 39 municipalities, but 43% of the total SHA was located in the municipalities of Bužim, Cazin, Gornji, Tešanj, Travnik, Vakuf, and Vareš, with a total population of more than 226,660 inhabitants. Total cluster munition casualties recorded in BiH between 1992 and 2010 amounted to 42 people killed and a further 181 injured. Agricultural land and forest make up more than 82% of the total SHA, with land needed for housing and reconstruction accounting for another 15%.[8]

Other explosive remnants of war

Demining operations in BiH continue to clear scattered unexploded ordnance (UXO). In addition, BiH has an area of more than 1km2 in the vicinity of Zunovica, Hadzici where a Yugoslav National Army barracks and ammunition storage area was bombed in 1995. As of March 2012, the type of contamination had not been identified.[9]

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators

Body

Situation on 1 January 2013

National Mine Action Authority

Demining Commission

Mine action center

BHMAC

International demining operators

NGO: Handicap International (HI), INTERSOS, NPA

Commercial: UXB Balkans

National demining operators

Government: Armed forces of BiH, FBiH Civil Protection Agency, RO Civil Protection, Brčko District Civil Protection Agency

NGO: CA Demira, CA Svijet bez mina, “Pazi mine,” Pro Vita, “Pazi mine,” STOP Mines, Udruženje za eliminaciju mina (UEM)

Commercial: Amphibia, , Detektor, Geomin, N&N IVSA, Minernon, Minoeksploziv deminiranje, Mekem BH d.o.o., MRUD Ltd., POINT, Tehnoelektro podruznica 001, Tornado, Trotil, UXB Balkans

International risk education  operators

NPA, European Union Force (EUFOR), INTERSOS

National risk education operators

Genesis Project, Mine Detection Dog Center (MDDC), NGO Prepelica, NGO Orhideja, Posavina bez mina

The Demining Commission, under the BiH Ministry of Civil Affairs and Communication, supervises the state-wide BHMAC and represents BiH in its relations with the international community on mine-related issues. The Demining Commission’s three members, representing BiH’s three ethnic groups, propose the appointment of BHMAC senior staff for approval by the Council of Ministers, report to the council on mine action, approve the accreditation of demining organizations, and facilitate cooperation between the FBiH and RS. The Demining Commission mobilizes funds for mine action in cooperation with the Board of Donors which includes the embassies of donor governments, the European Union (EU), the UN, and the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF).[10] Members of the Demining Commission are from three ministries: the Ministry of Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.[11]

BHMAC, established by the Decree of the Council of Ministers in 2002, is responsible for regulating mine action and implementing BiH’s demining plan, including accreditation of all mine action organizations.[12] BHMAC operates from its headquarters in Sarajevo and through two entity mine action offices—formerly autonomous entity mine action centers—and eight regional offices. The two entity offices coordinate the activities of regional offices in planning, survey, and quality control/assurance. Quality assurance inspectors are based in the regional offices.[13]

 

Since 2008, BiH has prepared to introduce new legislation intended, among other objectives, to provide a stable platform for mine action funding by the government and local authorities and to provide for municipalities taking greater responsibility for planning and implementing risk education.[14] However, a draft law prepared by the Ministry of Civil Affairs with support from BHMAC and UNDP, and first submitted to parliament in February 2010, failed to gain parliamentary approval in 2012.[15]

The BiH Mine Action Strategy 2009–2019 sets the target of becoming free of mines by 2019 and identifies seven “strategic goals,” including “elimination” of the mine threat, funding, risk education, victim assistance, technical development and research, and advocacy. BHMAC conducted the first of three planned revisions of the strategy in 2012 (the other two are due in 2015 and 2017). As of mid-2013, the revised draft was awaiting approval by the Demining Commission.[16]

In 2013, BHMAC was also drafting new standing operating procedures for non-technical survey which were expected to help accelerate cancellation of SHAs and land release.[17]

BiH identifies three categories of hazard: (1) areas used by the local population, land that is used occasionally, and locations with resources required for economic development; (2) locations that are used occasionally or are located on the edge of first priority hazards; and (3) remote areas along former confrontation lines, without known minefields but with possible ERW and unused by the local population.[18] The first and second categories are to be released through clearance and general and technical survey, supported by permanent marking and risk education. The third category of hazard will be dealt with by permanent marking, risk education for local communities, and the introduction of a law imposing penalties for trespassing on marked and fenced land.[19]

Land Release

BiH released a total of 77.24km² in 2012, 25% less than the previous year and little more than half the amount planned for the year. Of the total, nearly 90% (68.48km²) was cancelled through non-technical survey. A further 7.46km² was released through technical survey, less than in 2011, while full clearance accounted for 1.3km², about one-third of the previous year’s result.[20]

 

Five-year summary of clearance

Year

Mined area cleared (km2)

2012

1.30

2011

3.13

2010

2.35

2009

1.94

2008

3.16

Total

11.88

Survey in 2012

BHMAC, supported by 15 NPA surveyors seconded to its regional offices, conducted general and technical survey over a total area of 174.24km2 in 2012, about 90% of the target (195.15km2), releasing 77.24km2, most of this by non-technical survey (89%). A further 97km2 was earmarked for further investigation or clearance.[21] NPA conducted non-technical survey on 127 tasks, cancelling 16.9km². Working with a mixture of mechanical units, mine detection dog teams, and manual demining teams, it also conducted technical survey on 12 tasks in Bosanska Posavina and Sarajevo canton, releasing 1.39km².[22]

Release of SHAs/CHAs containing mines in 2012

Total area released (km²)

Area cancelled by non-technical survey (km2)

Area released by technical survey (km2)

Area cleared (km2)

No. of antipersonnel mines destroyed

No. of antivehicle mines destroyed

No. of UXO destroyed

77.24

68.48

7.46

1.30

904

75

636

Mine clearance in 2012

BiH had 30 organizations accredited with BHMAC for demining at the end of 2012 with a total staff of 1,300, including 1,050 deminers. However, only 16 organizations participated in clearance operations in 2012, down from 22 the previous year. More than half of them engaged in small tasks, clearing less than 100,000m² (0.1km²) in the year.

 

Overall, operators cleared a total of 1.3km², well below the 2009–2019 Mine Action Strategy target of 9.27km², and little more than a quarter of the operation’s plan for 2012. This included 44 ITF-funded tasks covering a total of 586,079m².[23] Operators conducted 101 technical survey tasks on 8.76km², resulting in the release of 7.46km² and placed permanent marking on an area of 7.38km², less than a quarter of the planned activity.

BHMAC attributed the shortfall to lack of funding.[24] It said it had planned mine action expenditure of BAM80.15 million (US$52.7 million), but actual spending had amounted to less than half that figure (42%), reaching only BAM33.54 million ($22.05 million), of which BAM16.88 million ($11.1 million) (50.3%) came from national sources and the balance from international donors.[25]

Mine clearance in 2012[26]

Operator

Area cleared (m2)

Antipersonnel mines destroyed

Antivehicle mines destroyed

Other UXO destroyed

NPA

135,228

256

8

135

UEM

142,758

71

0

16

INTERSOS

35,560

53

0

8

Pro Vita

278,779

55

4

16

“Pazi Mine”

176,131

79

18

25

UG Demira

57,980

25

5

19

DOK-ING

5,411

12

0

9

STOP Mines

252,472

52

4

16

N&N IVSA

33,213

75

6

40

UXB Balkans

12,625

22

0

24

Point Ltd. Brcko

4,154

24

2

17

Detektor

21,080

50

24

83

FBiH Civil Protection Agency

85,285

71

4

67

RO Civil Protection

48,696

29

0

34

District Brcko Civil Protection Agency

100

1

0

60

BiH Armed Forces

15,783

29

0

67

Total

1,305,255

904

75

636

Compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the 10-year extension request granted in 2008), BiH is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2019.

In 2012, as in all the years since it received the extension to its Article 5 deadline, BiH fell far short of its land release targets. As a result, four years into its extension period, BiH had achieved only 70% of the land release planned for this period and barely a quarter of the planned clearance.

Article 5 land release targets and results

Year

Manual clearance

Technical survey

General and systematic survey

Total land release

 

Target

Achieved

Target

Achieved

Target

Achieved

Target

Achieved

2012

9.27

1.3

21.63

7.46

148.50

68.84

179.40

77.24

2011

9.27

3.13

21.63

9.56

148.50

89.93

179.40

102.62

2010

9.27

2.35

21.63

9.39

131.75

100.76

162.65

112.50

2009

9.27

1.94

21.63

10.8

120.75

115.32

151.65

128.06

Total

37.08

8.72

86.52

37.21

549.50

374.85

673.10

420.42

BHMAC believes amendments to the standing operating procedures for mine action, under preparation in 2013, will help to accelerate survey and land release, but it is clear that the main obstacle to progress is funding. BiH expressed concern at what it sees as a downward trend in donor interest and support, but BHMAC also reported the biggest financial challenge was a shortfall in domestic funding amounting to BAM39.55 million ($26 million) in 2012, representing about half the budget projected for that year. The government had said it would seek to tap additional domestic sources and the EU to give mine action more momentum and to help raise counterpart funds, but as of April 2013 the financial outlook looked uncertain.[27]

Clearance of cluster munition contaminated areas in 2012

NPA, the only operator accredited in BiH for clearance of cluster munitions, started technical survey and clearance in 2012, releasing a total of 2.03km², 92% of this through non-technical and technical survey.[28]

Release of SHAs/CHAs containing cluster munition remnants in 2012

No. of areas released

Area cancelled by non-technical survey (m2)

Area released by technical survey (m2)

Area cleared (m2)

No. of U-SUBs destroyed

No. of antivehicle mines destroyed

No. of UXO destroyed

9

1,268,834

582,852

157,482

343

0

7

U-SUBS = unexploded submunitions

In 2013, NPA expected to release about 3.2km² of cluster munition-affected land, of which about 2.2km² was to be through non-technical survey and the rest through technical survey and clearance.[29]

Compliance with Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Under Article 4 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, BiH is required to destroy all cluster munition remnants in areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2021. The government has not assigned responsibility for clearing cluster munitions, but NPA is supporting BHMAC in deciding how to address the problem.[30]

The limited extent of submunition contamination and the rate of progress made in survey and clearance suggests BiH should be able to fulfil its Article 4 obligations within the initial 10-year deadline. BHMAC hopes it can complete clearance of all known cluster munition contamination within three years.[31]

Quality management

BHMAC had 12 inspectors and 28 consultants engaged in quality management in 2012, conducting 2,910 inspections, far fewer than in 2011 and little more than one-third of the planned number. Tests of 842 detectors found 64 (8%) that were not working. Inspectors also tested 105 mine detection dog teams, passing 88 of them and failing 17. They also conducted an evaluation of the mechanical assets of 21 accredited operators.[32]

Safety of demining personnel

BHMAC did not record any demining accidents or injuries in 2012.[33]

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request (Revision), 27 June 2008, p. 4.

[2] Email from Goran Zdrale, Management Section, BHMAC, 4 July 2013. For explanation of BHMAC’s categories see Mine Action Program section below.

[3] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request (Revision), 27 June 2008, p. 4.

[4] Email from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013.

[5] BHMAC, “Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Annual Report 2011,” May 2012, p. 4.

[6] Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Sarajevo, undated but 2010, provided by email from Darvin Lisica, Programme Manager, NPA, 3 June 2010.

[7] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form F, 20 August 2011, pp. 20–21.

[9] Interview with Tarik Serak, BHMAC, Sarajevo, 1 March 2012.

[10] “Demining Law in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Official Gazette, Year VI, Pursuant to Article IV.4.a of the BiH Constitution, 12 February 2002.

[11] Interview with Tarik Serak, BHMAC, Sarajevo, 18 January 2011.

[12] Bosnia and Herzegovina Official Gazette, Sarajevo, 17 March 2002.

[13] BHMAC, “Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Annual Report 2011,” adopted by the Demining Commission, May 2012, p. 22.

[14] “Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Strategy 2009–2019,” adopted by the State Ministry Council during its 45th session, Sarajevo, 24 April 2009.

[15] Interview with Tarik Serak, BHMAC, Geneva, 17 April 2013.

[16] “Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Strategy 2009–2019,” April 2009, pp. 11–14; and email from from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013.

[17] Email from from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013.

[18] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request (Revision), 27 June 2008, p. 10.

[19] BiH presentation of its Article 5 deadline Extension Request to the Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 25 November 2008.

[20] Emails from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 and 22 July 2013; and “Report on mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” BHMAC, undated but 2013.

[21] Email from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013.

[22] Email from Darvin Lisica, NPA, 13 April 2013.

[23] “Report on mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” BHMAC, undated but 2013, p.10.

[24] Email from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013; Council of Ministers, “Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Strategy (2009–2019),” Sarajevo, 24 April 2008, p. 13; and “Report on mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” BHMAC, undated but 2013, p. 3.

[25] Email from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013; and “Report on mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” BHMAC, undated but 2013, p. 22. Average exchange rate for 2012: BAM1.5209=US$1, Oanda, www.oanda.com.

[26] Email from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013.

[27] Statement of BiH to the Twelfth Meeting of State Parties, Geneva, 5 December 2012; “Report on mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” BHMAC, undated but 2013, p. 22; and interview with Tarik Serak, BHMAC, Geneva, 17 April 2013.

[28] Email from Darvin Lisica, NPA, 13 April 2013.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Telephone interview with Darvin Lisica, NPA, 1 August 2011; and interview with Tarik Serak, BHMAC, Sarajevo, 18 January 2011.

[31] Interview with Tarik Serak, BHMAC, Geneva, 17 April 2013.

[32] Email from from Goran Zdrale, BHMAC, 4 July 2013.

[33] Ibid.