Western Sahara


Last updated: 21 October 2018


All known casualties (between 1930 and 2017)

1,427 mine/unexploded remnants of war (ERW) casualties: 56 killed, 1,351 injured, and 20 unknown/unharmed

Casualties in 2017

Annual total


Decrease from
34 in 2016

Survival outcome

4 killed; 20 injured

Device type causing casualties

2 antipersonnel mine; 13 antivehicle mine; 7 ERW; 2 unexploded submunition

Civilian status

11 civilian; 13 military

Age and gender

6 men; 18 unknown


Casualties in 2017—details

The majority of casualties, 19, were in Morocco-controlled Western Sahara (west of the berm[2]), and five occurred in Polisario-controlled Western Sahara (east of the berm, also known as the Liberated Territories). The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) reported confidence that almost all casualties in 2017 were recorded.[3]

The total number of mine/ERW casualties in Western Sahara is not known. As of May 2018, UNMAS and the Sahrawi Mine Action Coordination Center (SMACO) are in the process of cleaning up the casualty database. Sources of casualty data include a casualty survey conducted by the Saharawi Association of Landmine Victims (Asociación Saharaui de Víctimas de Minas, ASAVIM) with the support of Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) in 2012, and ongoing casualty surveillance.[4] 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.[5] The Polisario authorities reported a total of 1,413 people killed and injured by mines/ERW through April 2014.[6] UNMAS data included 1,427 casualties east and west of the berm in total. This total contains 1,213 adults, 18 children, and 196 of unknown age. Out of all casualties, 311 victims were recorded with a military/police status and 41 victims were deminers.[7] 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 occurredin Morocco versus Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara.[8]

Cluster munition casualties

In total, 184 cluster munition casualties have been identified in Western Sahara. Two unexploded cluster submunition casualties were reported in 2017, an increase on 2016 when none were reported. There were four unexploded cluster submunition casualties in 2015, including at least one child.[9] Prior to that, in September 2013, a boy was injured by an unexploded submunition.[10] ASAVIM identified 177 casualties of unexploded submunitions occurring between 1975 and 2012.[11]

[1] Unless otherwise indicated, casualty data for 2017 is based on: email from Mischa Kaufmann, Information Management Officer, UNMAS, 27 February, and 5 April 2018.

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

[3] Email from Mischa Kaufmann, UNMAS, 27 February 2018.

[4] Interview with Mischa Kaufmann, UNMAS, in Tindouf, 18 May 2018.

[5] Email from Awala Lehib, ASAVIM, 10 August 2014.

[6] 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. SADR, Convention on Cluster Munitions voluntary Article 7 Report (reporting period 2005 to June 2014), submitted 16 June 2014, Form H; and email from Awala Lehib, ASAVIM, 10 August 2014.

[7] Email from Mischa Kaufmann, UNMAS, 27 February 2018. This does not include some data provided directly to the Monitor by other sources. See Monitor report for 2017. Email from Awala Lehib, ASAVIM, 10 August 2014.

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

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

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