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 the end of 2017, the mine suspected area in BIH amounted to 1,061 square kilometres, representing over 2 % of the country’s territory. According to the BIH Mine Action Center (BHMAC) estimations, there are still around 75,000 mines and UXO left in the ground throughout BIH. Currently, there are still 500,000 residents living in approximately 1,400 mine/UXO/cluster munitions affected communities. Since 1996, mine and UXO accidents severed the lives of 1,756 local residents, turning them into mine/UXO victims (613 persons were fatally injured).
The latest figures on residual mine contamination and the impact it has on local residents’ daily life remains devastating. According to national mine action strategy, it has been predicted that BIH would strive to achieve mine-free status until 2019. However, considering various external and internal factors, inter alia, lack of funding and emergence of new suspected areas, BIH would require a deadline extension application. It is projected that the mine-free status could be achieved in 2025.
What we do
Clearance of Landmines and ERW
In 2017, ITF released overall 6,157,717 square meters of land through demining, technical survey and land release operations. Since 1998 ITF in total released 85,503,068 square meters of land in BiH. Demining and technical survey operations were implemented on 92 project locations, removing and destroying around 421 mines and 538 UXO. Through the Land Release Project by Mine Detection Dog Center in BIH (MDDC) on the Mine Suspected Area Project – Jošanica-Turija in Konjic Municipality, 3,799,000 square meters of land in total was released on 15 project locations (removing 73 mines and 3 UXO).
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).
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 2017, ITF continued with the implementation of a project, supporting landmine/UXO victims and their family members with tertiary education scholarships. In the academic year 2017/2018, 19 students were granted scholarships.
ITF is also continuously supporting the local capacity building by providing equipment and trainings to BHMAC, Civil Protection and Armed Forces Demining Battalion.
In addition, after successfully concluding the pilot project in school year 2017-2018, ITF, in cooperation with the European Centre for Dispute Resolution, continued with second phase of the project (2018-2019) with funds provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and Korea. In the current project period 9 partner elementary schools from the Municipalities of Brčko, Gračanica, and Doboj are included in the program, with 27 teachers as school mediators and 100 pupils as peer mediators.
Destruction of Surplus Weapons and Ammunition
ITF was also active in the demilitarization process in BIH; the main aim is to ensure operations and develop national capabilities and infrastructure in this regard, utilizing both, government and private, industrial facilities in supporting a long-term life-cycle stockpile management and contributing to a long-term conventional weapons destruction) plan of defense modernization in BIH. In 2012, a total of 60,969 items were destroyed within the project.