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Table of Contents
Country Reports
Morocco, Landmine Monitor Report 2006

Morocco

Key developments since May 2005: Morocco voted in favor of the annual UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty for the second consecutive year. It announced at the Sixth Meeting of States Parties its intent to submit a voluntary Article 7 transparency report. Between April 2005 and April 2006, 289 mines and items of unexploded ordnance were marked and 7,074 items of explosive ordnance, mostly Polisario’s stockpiled antipersonnel mines, were destroyed. In 2005, there were at least nine new casualties.

Mine Ban Policy

The Kingdom of Morocco has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. In November 2005, a representative stated, “Though not yet party to the Convention, Morocco has, since the launching of the Ottawa process, fully subscribed to the founding and noble principles of the Convention and to its laudable humanitarian objectives.”[1] However, Morocco continued to cite resolution of the territorial dispute over Western Sahara as the obstacle to its accession: “Formal adherence to the Ottawa Convention is a strategic objective. The achievement of this objective is intimately linked to the preservation of its territorial integrity and to the protection of its national security. This provisional impediment will disappear as soon as a final and mutually acceptable political solution is achieved to the artificial conflict imposed.”[2]

On 8 December 2005, Morocco voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 60/80 calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.[3] It noted, “For the second consecutive year, Morocco voted in favor of the UNGA resolution on antipersonnel mines. This vote represents a departure from Morocco’s previous stand on the issue of antipersonnel mines and expresses, in a clear and an unambiguous manner, Morocco’s total adherence to the founding principles and the humanitarian values underlying the Convention. It most of all demonstrates a genuine desire to contribute towards universalizing the Convention.”[4]

Morocco attended as an observer the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Zagreb, Croatia in November-December 2005, as well as the meetings of the intersessional Standing Committees in June 2005 and May 2006.

Morocco announced in November 2005 that it will submit a voluntary Article 7 transparency report in the near future. It stated, “In view of achieving a closer interaction with the Convention’s mechanism and illustrating further its commitment to the principles and objectives underlying it, Morocco has decided to submit, in the near future and on a voluntary basis, its first national report on the implementation of the Convention.”[5]

Morocco is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. It submitted an annual national report required by Article 13 in November 2003 and submitted a summary sheet indicating no changes in November of 2004 and 2005. Morocco attended the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in Geneva in November 2005.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling and Use

Morocco has said on several occasions that it never produced or exported antipersonnel mines, and that it stopped importing them prior to the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty in March 1999.[6] In November 2005, a representative reiterated, “Indeed, my country is not only among the few states that never produced or exported antipersonnel mines, but it also refrained from importing these murderous devices well before the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention.”[7]

Morocco also said in November 2005, “The only antipersonnel mines retained are used for the sole purpose of instruction in demining techniques and training of the Moroccan contingents taking part in various peacekeeping operations around the world.”[8] It made similar statements about having a stockpile of mines solely for training purposes in November 2004 and September 2005.[9] It has not provided any details on types or quantities of mines. Morocco previously stated in 2001 and 2002 that it had no stockpile of antipersonnel mines.[10]

Morocco told Landmine Monitor that it stopped using antipersonnel mines at the time of the Western Sahara cease-fire in 1991.[11] Morocco has acknowledged extensive use of mines in the past, most notably in the earthen berms (walls) it built from 1982 to 1987 to secure the northwest corner of Western Sahara. Since Landmine Monitor starting reporting in 1999 it has not found any independent evidence of antipersonnel mine use by Moroccan forces. The Polisario in Western Sahara have alleged Moroccan use several times, but there were no such allegations in 2005 or 2006.

Landmine and UXO Problem

Morocco is not considered mine-affected, except for the territory it controls in Western Sahara. Western Sahara is affected by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO),[12] as a result of years of colonial and post-colonial conflicts. The 1991 cease-fire resulted in a territory divided between the Polisario-controlled area and Morocco by 2,400 kilometers of defensive walls built by Morocco, known as berms (earthen walls of about three meters in height), which it fortified with antipersonnel and antivehicle mines.[13] There are also berms in the Moroccan-controlled zone, around Dakhla and stretching from Boujdour, including Smara on the Moroccan border.[14]

Approximately 10,000 Saharawi nomads live in mine-affected areas on both sides of the Moroccan berms.[15] Landmines and UXO in Western Sahara are also a serious threat to illegal immigrants attempting to enter Melilla, the Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. If caught by the Moroccan security forces, they are reportedly sent back to the berms and told to walk straight through, without stepping left or right, across the minefields.[16]

Mine Action Program

There is no formal mine action program in Morocco or in Western Sahara. However, under bilateral military agreements signed by Morocco and Polisario in early 1999, both parties agreed to cooperate with the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in the exchange of mine-related information, marking of mined areas, and the clearance and destruction of mines and UXO in the presence of MINURSO observers.[17] This agreement does not cover minefields along the berms.[18]

Demining

MINURSO carries out joint military operations with Polisario forces in territory on the Western Sahara side of the berms and with the Royal Moroccan Army (RMA) on the Moroccan side. When mines and UXO are discovered, MINURSO marks them and then monitors their destruction by Polisario or RMA’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams. MINURSO has reported that while the RMA has the capacity to address some UXO issues in the areas it controls, no survey or clearance has been conducted by Polisario in areas east of the berm.[19]

Identification and Marking/Fencing of Mined Areas

No survey has been conducted in Morocco. Polisario provided MINURSO with all maps and necessary information in 1991, but Morocco did not.[20]

As part of its activities, MINURSO marks locations of mines and UXO with piles of stones up to half-a-meter in height, painted red. In May 2006, MINURSO planned to manufacture 450 standard mine and UXO warning signs.[21]

Mine and UXO Clearance

Between October 2005 and April 2006, MINURSO discovered and marked 29 mines and UXO, and monitored the destruction of 3,381 antipersonnel mines. This included the destruction by Polisario of 3,100 stockpiled antipersonnel mines on 27 February 2006, as well as another 281 stockpiled antipersonnel mines during a destruction trial the day before. Between April and October 2005, MINURSO discovered and marked 260 mines and UXO, and monitored the destruction of 3,693 mines and UXO. During the same period, MINURSO also monitored 40 EOD operations on the west side of the berm, carried out by the RMA.[22] The data reported did not indicate what quantities were found and destroyed on each side of the berm.

Reporting in past years by MINURSO has been inconsistent in format, but Landmine Monitor has recorded a total of 1,294 hazardous items marked, 831 sites marked and the monitoring of the destruction of 37,629 mines and UXO since 1999.[23] MINURSO has not disaggregated data between mines and UXO.

Mine Risk Education

In March 2006, the Moroccan Association of Mine Victims presented a mine risk education proposal to the local council on human rights in Smara. It had previously been in discussions with the Moroccan Red Cross and health and agriculture delegations in the region.[24]

Landmine/UXO Casualties

In 2005, there were at least nine new mine/UXO casualties, including five killed and four injured. The Swiss Foundation for Landmine Victim Aid (SFLVA) recorded eight casualties, including four people killed in Assa Zag and Tan Tan provinces. Four of the casualties were under 18 years and one casualty was 18 years old.[25] Additionally, one man died in an antipersonnel mine incident in the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara.[26]

In 2004, Moroccan officials interviewed by Landmine Monitor were not aware of any new mine casualties.[27] No mine casualties were reported in 2003. However, SFLVA was approached by the families of two landmine survivors injured in 2004 and 2003. In 2004, a young girl was playing in the fields when she was injured by a landmine near Twizgui, Assa Zag province in southern Morocco on the border with Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. In 2003, a young woman was injured outside her tent, which was put up in a pasture in Ibouirat, Assa Zag province.[28]

Casualties continued to be reported in 2006. MINURSO recorded two casualties in the Moroccan-controlled part of Western Sahara: on 12 February, a Moroccan soldier was killed on patrol; on 19 February, a Bedouin was killed while driving a truck.[29]

No comprehensive information is available on mine casualties in Morocco and the total number of casualties is not known. However, during a training workshop organized by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in April 2006, Morocco stated it had an electronic database of casualties. In addition to the workshop, UNIDIR sent out a general questionnaire on the provision of victim assistance, both immediate and longer-term rehabilitation, to the six North African states in its project, including Morocco.[30] Between March 2000 and March 2001, Moroccan authorities registered 51 military mine/UXO casualties (seven killed and 44 injured) in Western Sahara.[31]

In 2006, as a result of being approached by the families of two mine survivors, SFLVA conducted a survey in Assa Zag and Tan Tan provinces, in cooperation with a local partner. As of 25 May, SFLVA had found 38 mine/UXO casualties, including 28 survivors in these two provinces. Many of them were children, injured while playing or herding cattle. The major cause was landmines, but there were some casualties due to UXO incidents. The data collected does not reflect the entire scope of the problem, as only two provinces were surveyed and it is possible that not all fatal casualties were recorded.[32]

Reportedly, the Moroccan Association of Mine Victims in Smara, Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, has collected information on 70 mine casualties, including 37 killed.[33]

Survivor Assistance

At the Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Morocco stated that it cared for mine casualties, in particular for their socioeconomic conditions and that it “remained particularly sensitive to the sufferings caused by these indiscriminate weapons and their impact on the socioeconomic conditions of the victims, whose number is still increasing in an alarming way.”[34]

Mine survivors are reportedly not treated differently from other people with disabilities.[35] The Moroccan health system is generally well developed and well run in cities, but in rural or desert areas, distances are long and services less developed. Mine survivors do not always have access to the necessary treatment, for financial reasons or because of the lack of specialized care in certain areas.[36] On the Moroccan side of the berm in Western Sahara, there is a medical center in Laayoune and two medical stations in Awsard and Smara.[37]

In early 2005, the Swiss Foundation for Landmine Victim Aid was approached by the families of two mine survivors who could not afford necessary treatment. It financially supported medical expertise, transport and accompaniment of a family member to a hospital in Rabat for a young girl injured by a mine in 2004. The Moroccan government covered the cost of the medical treatment after the media reported on the case. Reportedly, the girl had not received surgery since the incident occurred and the family was only able to afford basic treatment. The Swiss Foundation has continued to provide transportation for checkups and prosthesis adjustment. Also in 2005, SFLVA covered all the costs for transport, surgery and accompaniment for the young woman who was injured in 2003.[38]

The organization S.O.S Physical Handicap Morocco (S.O.S Handicap Moteur Maroc) runs a rehabilitation center in Tanger, providing artificial limbs and socioeconomic reintegration programs. Horizon Association of the Disabled (Association Horizon des Handicapés) manages a physical rehabilitation and socioeconomic reintegration center in Ouarzazate, employing 36 disabled staff out of 45. Other organizations providing medical, physical rehabilitation, socioeconomic and psychosocial services for persons with disabilities are the Moroccan Foundation for the Development of the Disabled (Fondation Marocaine pour le Développement de l’Handicapé) and the Support Organization for the Community-Based Rehabilitation Program (Association d’Appui au Programme de Réadaptation à Base Communautaire).

In January 2006, the Moroccan Organization of Persons with Disabilities (l’Amicale Marocaine des Handicapés) received a donation of 1,133 wheelchairs and 110 sports wheelchairs from the US-based Wheelchair Foundation and Rotary International. This was the third such delivery through a program of support between the organizations; Morocco is scheduled to receive a new load of wheelchairs every five years.[39]

In 2005, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD) organized two workshops on the manufacturing of polypropylene prostheses together with the Centre FORMA in Marrakech; 23 people participated. SFD is building Centre FORMA’s capacity to run this type of workshop and obtain polypropylene components without external support; to support this, one technician was sent on a one-month training course at the SFD regional center in Addis Ababa.[40] The SFD also worked with the Ministry of Health to remedy low patient satisfaction, low production and high cost of services at the Regional Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Center – Oued Nachef (Centre Régional de Rééducation et d’Orthopédie Oued Nachef) in Oudja.[41]

Handicap International (HI) has supported Moroccan disability organizations, NGOs and government institutions with technical advice, training (including for orthopedic technicians) and networking to promote the full integration of people with disabilities. HI also plans to stimulate the exchange of reintegration experiences between Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.[42]

On 30 April 2006, the Royal Moroccan Federation for Sports for Persons with Disabilities (Fédération Royale Marocaine des Sports pour Personnes Handicapées, FRMSPH) launched the “Football for All” project in partnership with Handicap International, and with the financial support of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). The project aims to promote football for persons with disabilities to encourage social integration and personal development.[43]

Since 2005, the Moroccan Association of Mine Victims active in Smara, Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara, has collected casualty information, raised awareness on the rights of mine survivors and advocated for their reintegration into society in cooperation with other organizations. However, the organization has not had the funds to implement reintegration and assistance projects.[44]

Disability Policy and Practice

The Secretary of State for Family, Childhood and Disabled People (Secrétariat de l’Etat Chargé de la Famille, de l’Enfance et des Personnes Handicapées), under the Ministry of Social Affairs, deals with disability issues. Morocco has no specific legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities, but there are guidelines without legal effect.[45] However, this legislative vacuum leaves many issues unaddressed, especially when it comes to employment.[46]

In September 2004, the Secretary of State for Family, Childhood and Disabled People, with the technical advice of the Research Center for the Study and Documentation of the Health Economy (Centre de Recherche, d’Etude et de Documentation en Economie de la Santé, CREDES) and Handicap International, launched a disability census in Morocco. The census results were presented on 14 December 2005 during a national seminar, and concluded that about five percent of the population has a disability. The survey found that only 12 percent of persons with disabilities received social welfare; of those, only 11 percent could cover their expenses. Only 32 percent of disabled children between four and 15 years old went to school, and only 12 percent of disabled people between 15 and 60 years of age, capable of working, were employed. The census was the first step toward creating a new national action plan in 2006; the first national workshop on developing the action plan was held from 27 to 28 January 2006.[47]


[1] Statement by Zohour Alaoui, Director of UN and International Organizations Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Zagreb, 28 November 2005, p. 1.
[2] Ibid, p. 3.
[3] Morocco also provided an explanation of its vote on the draft resolution in the UNGA First Committee (Disarmament) on 28 October 2005. It is similar in content to its subsequent statement in Zagreb in late November 2005.
[4] Statement by Zohour Alaoui, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Zagreb, 28 November 2005, p. 2. Translation by Landmine Monitor.
[5] Ibid.
[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, pp. 823-824.
[7] Statement by Zohour Alaoui, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Zagreb, 28 November 2005, p. 1. In its statement to the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 2004, Morocco included a claim that it has also not used antipersonnel mines since the entry into force of the treaty. Morocco first claimed in February 2001 that it does not use, produce, import or stockpile antipersonnel mines, and has repeated that on several occasions. See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1071.
[8] Statement by Zohour Alaoui, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Zagreb, 28 November 2005, p. 1.
[9] See Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 824.
[10] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1071. Landmine Monitor has sought, but not received, clarification on when Morocco stopped stockpiling mines for operational purposes, and whether stocks were intentionally destroyed or depleted through use.
[11] Morocco response to Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, 16 September 2005.
[12] Under Protocol V to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, explosive remnants of war are defined as unexploded ordnance and abandoned explosive ordnance. Mines are explicitly excluded from the definition. A field assessment undertaken by the NGO Landmine Action UK found only a threat from mines and UXO. However, as no comprehensive survey has been undertaken so far in Western Sahara, Landmine Action UK has reported that it is too early to determine whether contamination includes abandoned explosive ordnance. Email from Simon Conway, Director, Landmine Action UK, 29 May 2006.
[13] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 921-924.
[14] Email from Simon Conway, Landmine Action UK, 3 May 2006.
[15] Interview with Maj. M. Morrow, Mine Information Officer, MINURSO, Laayoune, 7 January 2001.
[16] Email from Simon Conway, Landmine Action UK, 3 May 2006.
[17] Military agreement No. 3 on the reduction of hazards from mines and UXO, 12 March 1999.
[18] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 1072, 1241.
[19] UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), “Mission Report, MINURSO visit,” New York, November 2005, p. 1.
[20] Presentation on Western Sahara by Geneva Call, Standing Committee meetings, Geneva, 10 May 2006; Polisario response to Landmine Monitor, 27 June 2002.
[21] Email from Maj. Sherif El-Desouky, Mine Action Coordinator, MINURSO, Laayoune, 20 May 2006.
[22] “Report of the UN Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara,” S/2006/249, 19 April 2006,
p. 3; email from Maj. Sherif El-Desouky, MINURSO, Laayoune, 20 May 2006.
[23] As compiled from MINURSO reports by Landmine Monitor: 2005 (354 mines and UXO marked); 2004 (172 mines and UXO marked); 2001 (831 sites of mines and UXO marked; 37,328 antipersonnel mines destroyed, as well as 3,000 antivehicle mines and 27,000 UXO); 2000 (766 mines and UXO marked, of which 301 mines and UXO were destroyed).
[24] Mohammed al-Moutaki, “Citizens deplore the lack of assistance to mine victims in Smara,” al-Ahdat al-Maghribiyya (Smara), www.ahdath.info, 27 April 2006.
[25] Email from Fanja Rasolomanana, Project Coordinator, SFLVA, 26 May 2006.
[26] “Statistics For Discovered & Destroyed UXOs/Mines: The Period from Jul 2003 to Jul 2005,” sent by Enrico Magnani, MINURSO, Laayoune, 7 September 2005; Saharawi Campaign to Ban Landmines (SCBL) extract of the Mine Victim Statistics Database, Rabouni (Tindouf), accessed 31 March 2006.
[27] Interview with Seham Lemrabet, Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, 25 June 2004; interview with Amb. Omar Hilale, Permanent Mission of Morocco to the UN in Geneva, Nairobi, 3 December 2004.
[28] Email from Fanja Rasolomanana, SFLVA, 26 May 2006.
[29] Email from Maj. Sherif El-Desouky, MINURSO, 5 May 2006.
[30] Email from Rosy Cave, Lead Researcher for Explosive Remnants of War, UNIDIR, 4 May 2006.
[31] For more information, see Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1072.
[32] Email from Fanja Rasolomanana, SFLVA, 26 May 2006.
[33] Mohammed al-Moutaki, “Citizens deplore the lack of assistance to mine victims in Smara,” al-Ahdat al-Maghribiyya (Smara), 27 April 2006.
[34] Statement by Morocco, Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Zagreb, Croatia, 28 November-2 December 2005.
[35] See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 1072.
[36] Email from Fanja Rasolomanana, SFLVA, 26 May 2006.
[37] UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, www.minurso.unlb.org, accessed 1 May 2006.
[38] Email from Fanja Rasolomanana, SFLVA, 26 May 2006. It was mistakenly reported that the girl was from Western Sahara; see “Nouvelles hebdomadaires du Western Sahara: Territoires occupées et sud Maroc,” Western Sahara Referendum Support Association, 10 April 2005.
[39] “Distribution d’un lot de fauteuils roulants” (“Distribution of a batch of wheelchairs”), Tanmia - Portal of the development community in Morocco, www.tanmia.ma, 4 January 2006, accessed 1 May 2006.
[40] ICRC, “Special Fund for the Disabled Annual Report 2005,” Geneva, 10 March 2006, p. 17.
[41] Ibid.
[42] Email from Nicolas Bordet, Regional Director, HI, Rabat, Morocco, 21 May 2006.
[43] Press Advisory, “Pour la promotion du handifoot,” (“For the promotion of handifoot”), Tanmia - Portal of the development community in Morocco, www.tanmia.ma, 28 April 2006.
[44] Mohammed al-Moutaki, “Citizens deplore the lack of assistance to mine victims in Smara,” al-Ahdat al-Maghribiyya (Smara), 27 April 2006.
[45] US Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2005: Morocco,” Washington DC, 8 March 2006.
[46] “Personnes Handicapées: une intégration inachevée,” (“People with disabilities; incomplete integration”), Tanmia - Portal of the development community in Morocco, www.tanmia.ma, 2 December 2005.
[47] Secrétariat de l’Etat Chargé de la Famille, de l’Enfance et des Personnes Handicapées, “Enquête National sur le Handicap,” December 2005, www.sefsas.gov.ma, accessed 3 May 2006.