Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 22 September 2015


In 2014, at least four explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties (three killed and one injured) were reported in the media in the Republic of Poland. In January a 37-year-old collector of ordnance was killed while trying to disarm a missile from World War II found in the woods in the village of Czarnotrzew.[1] In another incident in January a man was killed while working on explosive ordnance disposal for a private company.[2] In March a man was seriously injured while trying to dismantle unexploded ordnance.[3] A man diving to collect ordnance was killed in September.[4]

Two ERW casualties were reported in the media in 2013. In Czestochowa, a father and his son were killed in December 2013 due to the explosion of a bomb in a location used for training fighter pilots during World War II.[5]

In 2012, a man was killed by ERW, also likely dating from World War II.[6] Incidents with ERW caused two child casualties in 2011. Prior to the 2011 incident, the last time casualties were identified was in 2008, when 10 ERW casualties were reported.[7]

The Monitor identified a total of 212 mine/ERW casualties in Poland from 1999 to the end of 2014 (45 people were killed and 167 injured).[8] The total number of mine/ERW casualties in Poland is not known. Due to incomplete data collection, casualties may have been under-reported. Between 1945 and 1973, 3,833 civilians (including 3,189 children) were killed and 8,221 (including 6,656 children) were injured in mine/ERW incidents.[9] Between 1944 and 1994, 658 soldiers were killed and several thousand injured in clearance operations.[10]

There is no specific victim assistance coordination mechanism in Poland. The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy is responsible for all disability-related matters. There is also a Government Plenipotentiary for Persons with Disabilities as well as a National Consultation Council for Persons with Disabilities, which organized training sessions for government officials to promote the inclusion of persons with disabilities into society and to fight discrimination. The State Fund for Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons (PFRON) was established in 1991 in order to create new jobs and/or retain jobs for persons with disabilities, fund social rehabilitation, and to finance NGOs projects (mainly on advocacy and public awareness).[11]

Poland ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 27 September 2012.

[1]Kolekcjoner niewybuchów zginął w eksplozji pod Ostrołęką” (“Collector of unexploded ordnance killed in an explosion at Ostroleka”), Wirtualna Polska, 14 January 2014.

[2]Lubuskie: eksplozja niewybuchu; jedna ofiara” (“Lubusz: unexploded ordnance explosion; one victim”), Telewizja Polska (TVP) Info, 19 January 2014.

[3]48-latek poważnie raniony przez niewybuch” (“48-year-old seriously injured by unexploded ordnance”), NTO, 17 March 2014.

[4]Śmierć nurka w podwodnej eksplozji. Chciał wydobyć niewybuch?” (“Death of diver in underwater explosion. Did he want to take out the unexploded bomb?”), TVP Info, 7 September 2014.

[5]Częstochowa: eksplozja niewybuchów zabiła dwie osoby” (“Czestochowa: the explosion of unexploded ordnance killed two people”), TVP, 21 December 2013.

[6] Tomasz Dybalski, “Śmierć od niewypału. Dlaczego doszło do tragedii? (nowe fakty)” (“Death by misfire. Why was there a tragedy? (New facts)”), Echodnia (daily newspaper), 22 July 2012.

[7]Likely WWII Bomb Kills 2 Polish Children,” Associated Press (Warsaw), 24 March 2011; and Monitor analysis of data provided by email from Adam Kobieracki, Director of Security Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 April 2009.

[8] See previous Landmine Monitor Reports on Poland.

[9] Letter from Maruisz Handzlik, Director of the Export Policy Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 February 2001.

[10] Ibid.

[11] See Ministry of Labor and Social Policy website; and United States Department of State, “2013 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Poland,” Washington, DC, 27 February 2014.