Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIH) is one of the most mine-contaminated countries in the world and remains the most mine-affected country in Europe. The presence of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), even though reduced each year, remains a major problem for personal security of residents, hinders socio-economic development and prevents steady and continuous post-conflict reconstruction.
By 2020, the mine suspected area in BIH amounts to 965 square kilometres, representing over 1,97 % of the country’s territory. According to the most current Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC) estimations, there are still around 79,000 mines and explosive remnants of war (unexploded ordnance, cluster munitions) remaining in the ground throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and over 500,000 residents living in approximately 1,400 mine/ERW affected communities. Since 1996, mine and UXO accidents severed the lives of 1,766 local residents, turning them into mine/ERW victims (617 persons were fatally injured-died).
The latest figures on residual mine contamination and the impact it has on local residents’ daily life remains devastating. According to latest national mine action strategy, it has been projected that BIH would strive to achieve mine-free status until 2025. However, considering various external and internal factors or force majure situations, e.g. lack of funding to implement year-by year goals, new information / emergence of new suspected areas, or latest COVID-19 restrictions, Bosnia and Herzegovina requires constant year per year status update and progress monitoring.
What we do
Clearance of Landmines and ERW
In 2019 alone, through mine clearance and technical survey micro-location operations 946,612 square meters was cleared on 38 project task locations, with 267 mines, and 42 UXO found and destroyed. Land release projects amounted to 3,226,300 square meters by combined land release methods on 12 project locations, removing 336 mines and 59 UXO.
In total, thus, 4,172,912 square meters of land was demined and released, in 2019 by ITF, on 50 locations, removing 603 mines and 101 UXO.
Since 1998 ITF in total demined and released more than 90 million square meters of land in BiH.
Mine Risk Education
For the last 10 years, ITF has been supporting mine risk education projects in BIH in order to ensure the ultimate goal, i.e. no more mine/UXO casualties. More than 150,000 children and more than 37,000 adults were included in mine risk education programs in BIH (approximately 25 projects were implemented in BIH through ITF).
In April 2020, ITF started with the project “Mine Risk Management During COVID-19“, in partnership with Posavina bez mina, a local non-profit from Brčko. The overall objective of this project is to contribute to the safety of the population living in affected areas and to raise awareness of the population about the mine danger, especially during the current public health crisis, when people are spending more time in nature. It is an urgent action in order to prevent casualties caused by landmines.
Through ITF, 917 mine victims from BIH were rehabilitated and around 90 mine victim assistance projects were implemented (including around 5,000 direct beneficiaries).
To date, mine/UXO vicitims continue to be one of the most severely discriminated and socially excluded groups in BIH with additional gaps between different parts of the country. As such, mine/UXO victims face a complex web of institutional barriers and lack of opportunities to overcome them. With unemployment rate at around 85 % among persons with disabilities, one of the most significant problems they are faced with is accessing the labour market.
In 2020, ITF continues to provide humanitarian support in Bosnia and Herzegovina, incorporating in its activities a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ITF is also continuously supporting the local capacity building by providing equipment and trainings to BHMAC, Civil Protections and Armed Forces Demining Battalion.
In addition, after successfully concluding the second phase of the project 'School and Peer Mediation in BIH' in school year 2018-2019, ITF, in cooperation with the Institute for Mediation Concordia and the European Centre for Dispute Resolution, continued with third phase of the project (2019-2020) with funds provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia. In the current project period 24 partner elementary schools from the Municipalities of Brčko, Gračanica, Tuzla, Doboj, Derventa, Brod and Mostar are included in the program. Approximately 80 teachers will complete the seminars for school mediators and train-the-trainer program, while at least 300 pupils will be trained for peer mediators.