Ethiopia and Eritrea are among the world’s most heavily mined nations. Unexploded ordnance (UXO) dating from World War II, the Eritrean liberation war (1961-1991) and the border conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea (1998-2000) continue to maim and kill in the Mission area.
There are 995 dangerous areas, 914 mined areas, and 702 minefields in Eritrea. It is estimated that some 250,000 landmines and three million UXOs are scattered throughout the country. The most common mines are anti-tank and anti-personnel blast and fragmentation mines. UXOs range from small arms ammunition to bombs dropped from airplanes.
In Ethiopia, a landmine impact survey in 2004, estimated that landmines and UXOs are affecting almost 2 million people in 1,500 communities. Between 2000 and 2004, there were 588 fatalities and almost 1,300 injuries caused by mine accidents. The most critically affected regions are Afar, Somali, and Tigray, where two-thirds of the victims of registered mine accidents are people who were herding or farming at the time.
Landmine contamination in both countries was not seriously addressed until the signing of the Algiers Peace Agreement in 2000. The peace process enabled the launch of mine action programmes by the UN and other organizations.
The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) was established as part of UNMEE in August 2000 under Security Council Resolution 1320. It is mandated to coordinate and provide technical assistance for humanitarian mine action activities in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and adjacent areas.
Clearance operations employ three demining techniques: Mine detection dogs, manual demining and mechanical demining. Nations that have contributed to Mission demining operations include Kenya (manual demining teams), Bangladesh (manual and mine detection dog teams) and Slovakia (mechanical demining teams).
In 2007, the MACC cleared 6 million square metres of land and 5,000 kilometres of road in Eritrea and Ethiopia. From January 2001 to January 2008, a total of 31,472,893 square metres of land was cleared.