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Table of Contents
Country Reports
SOMALIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2002


Key developments since May 2001: Landmines apparently continue to be used during the fighting among the many militias. Instability and conflict have impeded the establishment of a Mine Action Program and the start of mine action activities.


Somalia’s Transitional National Government (TNG) formed in July 2000 has yet to be recognized by the world community, and therefore cannot accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. The TNG, a product of a conference of clan elders described by UN officials as the most serious attempt in a decade to restore order to Somalia, controls only parts of Mogadishu and slivers of territory elsewhere. Since its establishment, Somalia’s interim government has not attended international meetings promoting the Mine Ban Treaty.

A few days after it was formed, the Parliament of the TNG passed a resolution putting “the disarming of militias and mine clearance” on the top of the agenda of the interim government.[1] In March 2002, senior government officials indicated that the TNG is willing to discuss the issue of landmines in the context of disarmament and reconciliation between the factions, which would lead to the exchange of maps and information of mined zones.[2]


Although Somalia does not produce landmines, large stocks are in the hands of TNG forces, as well as militias and private individuals. On several occasions, the TNG has accused neighboring Ethiopia of supplying armed factions with arms, including landmines.[3] The Somali interim President was quoted as saying, “We want Ethiopia to desist from destabilizing Somalia by training militias against the TNG and certain regions, sending mines, ammunition and weapons into Somalia. They are doing it right now.”[4]


There have been reports of landmines being used in the lower Juba region where militias of the Somalia Reconstruction and Reconciliation Council (SSRC) and the Juba Valley Alliance are fighting for control of the town of Bardhere and the port city of Kismayo. Residents fleeing from the fighting and travelers in the area report mine accidents on area roads south of Barava and between Jilib and Kismayo.[5]

In July 2001, it was reported that Somali camel herders were using landmines to try to stop widespread cutting of trees by charcoal smugglers; the trees are a source of food for the nomads.[6]

The Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) admits to mining the road between Baidoa and Mogadishu, but claims to use only antivehicle mines. However, other sources said the RRA used antipersonnel mines too, resulting in several deaths and injuries in 2001.[7] The report claimed RRA laid numerous landmines in the Lower Shabelle and Middle and Lower Juba regions. The faction led by Muse Sudi Yalahow is also said to reserve the right to use landmines against militias or forces of the TNG.[8]


Central and southern Somalia is heavily contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Galguduud, Bakool, Bay, Hiran and the Lower Jubba region are the most affected. Although no surveys have been conducted in these regions, travelers indicate that the threat of landmines is high throughout these regions. In the lower Jubba region, people are often forced to travel in convoys lead by guides with local knowledge of mined zones.[9]

All factions are thought to have used landmines around strategically important towns, military installations and airports. Mines have been used extensively for route denial in Galkayo, Beletweyne, Baidoa, and Mogadishu. In northeastern Somalia (Puntland) mines were laid at the border with Ethiopia during the Somalia-Ethiopian war of 1977/78. Islamic El-Itihad fighters have laid additional landmines along a “clan separation line” in Galkacayo town during inter-clan conflicts there and between Bosasso and Elayo during 1998-1999.

There are at least 28 known mined roads, 63 known minefields, and 17 suspected minefields in the country.[10]


In 1999, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), under its Somali Civil Protection Program (SCPP), helped establish the Somaliland Mine Action Center (SMAC), based in Hargeisa (Somaliland). According to the UNDP, the SCPP has issued a Preparatory Assistance Document that summarizes a three-year mine action project, from January 2002 to December 2004 for all of Somalia. This is under consideration by the TNG.[11] The aim of the project is to “establish and maintain a sustainable National Mine Action capacity” by strengthening management, conducting minefield surveys, mine clearance, and mine awareness and providing victim assistance.

UNDP has proposed a budget for this Somalia Mine Action Program of $10.1 million in 2002 and $8.8 million in 2003. In 2002, this includes funds for: mine clearance in NW Somalia (Somaliland) at $4.5 million, NE Somalia (Puntland) at $500,000, and Central/South Somalia at $500,000; demining equipment and training at $1.317 million; mine awareness at $300,000; and, victim assistance at $200,000.[12]

In 2001, SCPP helped Puntland establish a Puntland Mine Action Center to work with the Department of Demobilization and Reintegration. SCPP also established two Mine Action Offices in Baidoa and Mogadishu. The UNDP had hoped to turn both of these offices to full-fledged Mine Action Centers by September 2001, but had to scale back plans due to continued conflict in the regions.[13]

It appears that mine clearance is only occurring in northwest Somalia, in the self-declared Republic of Somaliland. See the separate Landmine Monitor entry for Somaliland for details on clearance and mine action funding. Landmine Monitor recorded little or no mine risk education or survivor assistance activity in Somalia.


Landmine casualties continue, though often unreported. In 2001, there have been a total of six reported landmine incidents and twenty UXO incidents in Mogadishu alone, in which 60 people were killed and 61 injured, according to the UNDP-supported mine action office.[14] In Puntland, there were 103 reported incidents resulting in human casualties.[15]

According to the US Department of State, reporting on events in 2001, “On 1 February 2001, in Burhakaba, Bay region, four nomads were killed by a landmine explosion. On 10 May 2001, a landmine explosion near Ballidogle airstrip killed a man. On 2 June 2001, a truck hit a mine in Saragoble, which exploded and killed one person and injured four others. On 24 July 2001, four cars hit landmines on the road linking the Lower Juba and Middle Juba regions. The cars exploded and killed several persons and injured some others.”[16] Incidents are also reported in the media. In the Gedo region, four people were killed and two others injured in two separate incidents in April.[17] In August, more than ten people were killed and several injured in the Kurtun Waarey and Baraawa areas of the Middle Juba Region when their vehicles hit landmines.[18] On 5 September 2001, a landmine in southern Somalia killed three people. There had been at least five other mine incidents in the same area in previous two months.[19] It is believed that many such incidents in southern Somalia are unreported.

Between 1995 and 2000, 4,357 landmine/UXO casualties were reported, including 2,626 killed and 1,731 injured.[20]

In 2001, the ICRC-supported hospitals treated 7,352 surgical cases, of which 405 were mine/UXO casualties.[21]


According to the Peace and Human Rights Network, there are no special programs for landmine survivors in Somalia.[22] The health infrastructure in the country is very poor and the few hospitals available are poorly staffed and ill equipped. The ICRC provides medicines, technical advice, training and financial support to four major surgical facilities in Somalia: Keysaney Hospital, run by the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS), and Medina Hospital in Mogadishu, Baidoa Hospital in Bay and Mudug Regional Hospital in Galkayo. The ICRC also assists 26 SRCS health posts in southern and central Somalia.[23] In 2001, the ICRC reported providing surgical treatment to 405 mine/UXO casualties.[24]

In 2001, the Norwegian Red Cross continued to support three rehabilitation centers, run by the SRCS, in Mogadishu, Galkaiyo, and Hargeisa. The centers provide physiotherapy, prostheses, orthoses, crutches, and a repair service. In 2001, a total of 909 prostheses were provided at the three centers, of which 95 were for landmine survivors.[25]

(See Landmine Monitor entry for Somaliland)


[1] IRIN, 19 July 2000. In Aorta, Djibouti, the TNG parliament adapted five resolutions on 19 July 2000, including one calling on the interim government to make “disarming militia’s and the lifting of landmines” top priorities in its agenda.
[2] Report emailed to Landmine Monitor by the UN Mine Action Office in Mogadishu, 27 March 2002.
[3] In particular, the TNG has said Ethiopian arms are going to a faction led by Col. Abdillahi Yusuf, the former President of Puntland, who is trying to wrest control of Puntland from an opposing group. The TNG issued a press release on 28 February 2002 accusing Ethiopia of training and arming militias in Bay and Bakool regions. BBC Somali Service interview with Prime Minister Hassan Abshir, 2 March 2002; “Ethiopian Troops Deploy in Somalia,” BBC, 7 January 2002.
[4] “Ethiopia threatens peace, says Somali president,” Reuters (Mogadishu), 3 April 2002.
[5] “Forty-five killed and 70 injured in Bardhere,” Xogogaal Online (in Somali), 19 February 2002. The Jubba Valley Alliance is nominally allied with the TNG.
[6] “Landmines, Armed Confrontation Cut off Strategic Road in Somalia,” Xinhuanet (Mogadishu), 18 July 2001; Osman Hassan, “Somali Herders Laying Land Mines,” Associated Press (Mogadishu), 18 July 2001.
[7] US State Department Country reports on Human Rights for 2001, at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2001.
[8] Interview with a senior UN Mine Action Officer, 13 March 2002.
[9] The Peace and Human Rights Network is a coalition of 32 organizations throughout Somalia. Landmine Monitor held a meeting with members of the network in Hargeisa in February 2002.
[10] US Department of State, “To Walk the Earth in Safety,” November 2001, p. 12.
[11] “UNDP SOMALIA: Preparatory Assistance Document January to June 2002,” Mine Action Support Program. (SCPP-SOM/) 2/00X (Draft, Executed by UNOPS Mine Action Unit). See also, United Nations Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, February 2002, p. 206.
[12] United Nations Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, February 2002, pp. 206-209.
[13] Interviews with a number of UN Mine Action Officers, March 2002.
[14] Report emailed to Landmine Monitor by the UN Mine Action Office in Mogadishu, 27 March 2002.
[15] Puntland mine casualty report for 2001.
[16] US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2001: Somalia, 4 March 2002.
[17] “Land Mines Kill Four in Gedo Region,” IRIN, 27 April 2001.
[18] “Land mines said ‘causing havoc’ in southern Somalia,” HornAfrik, 7 August 2001.
[19] Xasan Barise, “Landmine Kills Three in southern Somalia,” BBC Somali Service, 5 September 2001.
[20] Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 261-262.
[21] ICRC Special Report, Mine Action 2001, Geneva, July 2002, p. 20.
[22] The Peace and Human Rights Network is a coalition of 32 organizations throughout Somalia. Landmine Monitor held a meeting with members of the network in Hargeisa in February 2002.
[23] The ICRC in Somalia, Fact Sheet, 5 March 2002, accessed at http://www.icrc.org.
[24] ICRC Special Report, Mine Action 2001, Geneva, July 2002, p. 20.
[25] Norwegian Red Cross, Response to Landmine Monitor Survivor Assistance Questionnaire, 6 May 2002.