Coordination and monitoring of humanitarian mine action for UXO/ERW hotspots clearance

What is the project about?

Clearance operator during operations identifying an unexploded ordnance
Clearance operator during operations identifying an unexploded ordnance. (Credit: UNDP Albania)

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination remain a widespread problem in Albania. Among the causes of such contamination are explosions at Ammunition Storage Sites (ASS) across the country during the civil unrest in 1997, unexploded remains of the WW II as well as former army ammunition demolition areas which need to be cleared of explosive remnants. According to Albanian Mines and Munitions Coordination Office (AMMCO) database, since 1995, 979 casualties from mine/UXO accidents have been recorded throughout the country (143 people died and 836 were injured).

Recent technical assessments carried out by AMMCO on hotspot areas  concluded that the latter contain still live and dumped ammunition, 1.7 million m² were identified as contaminated in at least 10 hotspots, constituting a considerable risk for life or serious injuries. Apart from the threat to civilians, this type of contamination further aggravates the increased demand and pressure on agriculture land.

The Government of Albania and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have outlined a Plan of Action within its demilitarization framework, aiming to clear all UXO/ERW hotspot areas by 2015.

In response to this situation and in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence, UNDP Albania has launched since 2011 a new programme on “Coordination and monitoring of humanitarian mine action for UXO/ERW hotspots clearance in Albania”.

The implementation of the programme is entrusted to team of national experts, whose capacities have been built through a previous decade-long UNDP assistance in cooperation with other international donors in mine action programme in Albania. Such assistance successfully concluded with the clearance of all landmine and cluster munitions contaminated areas in north-eastern Albania by 2009.

This team of experts now operates under the name of Albanian Mines and Munitions Coordination Office (AMMCO) and is presently working in the area of hotspots clearance and ammunition disposal ensuring that these operations are carried out safely and effectively in accordance with the International Humanitarian Standards.

The programme has several components focusing on improving physical security stockpile management (PSSM) of ammunition; upgrading current safety disposal practices in line with international standards; enlarging the demilitarization framework to include civil community safety. The programme also has a strong public awareness component to alert the public on the dangers of contamination in addition to working to broaden the current mine victim assistance scheme, developed for the northeast, to target all UXO/ERW victims around Albania.

What we do?

AMMCO coordinates and monitors the UXO/ERW hotspots clearance operations, undertakes risk education and victim assistance activities and supports the Government of Albania in complying with the relevant international conventions in the area of disarmament and disability. As such, AMMCO is responsible for:

  • Reviewing existing safety standards on UXO/ERW hotspots clearance and ammunition disposal and upgrading them in compliance with the International Humanitarian Standards.
  • Monitoring ammunition clearance and disposal operations to ensure that procedures are carried out in strict compliance with the Albanian Armed Forces safety rules and the international standards.
  • Coordinating and closely monitoring transportation of the explosive items collected in the contaminated hotspots.
  • Conducting detailed technical and socio-economic impact assessments of the hotspots and propose the priorities for clearance.
  • Ensuring safety of cleared land through quality assurance and quality control.
  • Certifying the land cleared by the clearance operators and hand it over to the local community for further use.
  • Working together with local communities in designing and implementing public awareness and risk education programs aimed to raise awareness on ammunition threat and prevent new accidents among civilians in hotspot areas.
  • Working towards expanding Albania’s existing victim assistance programme to further contribute to physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support, socio-economic reintegration, and data collection on affected persons, implementation of relevant laws and policies for all mine/UXO victims throughout Albania.
  • Providing support to the Government of Albania in meeting the reporting obligations under several disarmament conventions such as the anti-personnel mines ban convention, cluster munitions convention.

What have we accomplished so far?



AMMCO Technical Assessment in Durres Hotspot
AMMCO Technical Assessment in Durres Hotspot
  • During 2012, an area of about 155,000 sqm was cleared and released by non-technical means of UXO and ERW in eight different hotspots namely: Gryka e Manatise, Ura e Gjadrit, Gjeroven, Brezhdan, Rreshen, Otllake, Shetaj and Berzhite.
  • 25,170 dangerous explosive items, including artillery ammunition, fuses, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and small arms ammunition were destroyed in the aforementioned hotspots.
  • Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence has requested AMMCO to quality control and certify land cleared in Gerdec, a highly contaminated area as a result of an ammunition depot explosion in March 2008.
  • The amount of land cleared to date at optimal depth is approximately 290.000 m².In addition to, a total of 253,941 ammunitions shells as well as 55,095 fuses of different calibres were found and transported for disposal.
  • The former army ammunition depots in: Gjegjan – Puke; Voskopoje and Lozhane – Korce; Qafe Molle 3 – Tirane; Bigaz - Skrapar; Mezhgoran – Permet; Ullishte-Elbasan and Qafe Shtame – Burrel were certified as free of ammunition threat.
  •  AMMCO has carried out quality control tasks in several former army ammunition depots areas and after quality control and removal of residual explosives were certified as free of ammunition threat the former army ammunition depots in: Gjegjan – Puke; Voskopoje and Lozhane – Korce; Qafe Molle 3 – Tirane; Bigaz - Skrapar; Mezhgoran – Permet; Ullishte-Elbasan and Qafe Shtame - Burrel.

Who finances it?

  Amount per year
Donor
2011 2012
2013
UNDP 124,620 50,000 $20,987
One UN programme 160,000    
BCPR   110,780  
ITF Slovenia /UNMAS     142,857

Delivery

Year Total Delivery
2012 $219,211
2011 $224,520
Project Overview
Status
Active
Project duration:
December 2011 - December 2014
Geographic coverage
Throughout Albania
MDG
1, 7
Programme Officer
Vladimir Malkaj
Project Manager
Arben Braha
Partners
Ministry of Defence (MoD) Albanian Armed Forces (AAF) Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) Ministry of Health (MoH) Kukes Regional Hospital Local Authorities in the hotspot contaminated areas Albanian Red Cross ALB-AID University Institute of Rehabilitation Slovenia International Trust Fund in Slovenia Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining International Committee of Red Cross