Mine Action In Somaliland

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Mine Action in Somaliland


Defeat of his conventional forces imminent, Saddam Hussein set loose the "dogs of war" distributing weapons, ammunition and explosives amongst the population to fuel an insurgency war. Unprepared for ensuing violence the humanitarian assistance community were shocked into 21 st century realities of insurgency war. Witnessing fifteen months of escalating warfare, the author reflects on the successes and failures of humanitarian assistance in Iraq. Can humanitarian assistance succeed during insurgency war?

Rules for humanitarian assistance changed, attacked by insurgents, the United Nations lead and exodus of humanitarian assistance organizations out of Iraq. Yet, some organizations stayed adapting to worsening conditions finding alternative methods to deliver humanitarian assistance. Waiting until conflicts end is not the answer for vulnerable populations. This case study highlights the mine action sectors experience demonstrating that operations can succeed during insurgency war. Contributing practical lessons, this study serves as guidance for humanitarian assistance practitioners under insurgency war conditions.



A. Introduction4

B. Understanding The Problem15

C. Limitations Of The Study18

D. Aims And Objectives18


2. Literature Review20







Future Research108

Mine Action in Somaliland


A. Introduction

Somalia has been the site of a range of military and paramilitary conflicts during the last 30 years. Such conflicts have left in their wake ordnance contamination in the form of landmines and of the wider range of unexploded ordnance (UXO).

During the 1977-79 Ogaden conflict with Ethiopia, Siad Barre's regime imported considerable numbers of mines (one estimate as high as 8 million assorted items). While one of the principal legacies of that war today is a series of more and less extensive and intact minefields along the Somali-Ethiopia border, it should not be assumed that the number of deployed items corresponds with the numbers reportedly purchased and shipped in. In the aftermath of Ogaden, the flare-up of a relatively extensive and protracted conflict between SNM interests and Barre in the north-west resulted in further ordnance contamination. Here, though, there was more sporadic, random and disruptive mine-laying inland from the border (specifically against Isaaq nomads backing the SNM), in addition to the maintenance of formal fields in defense of strategic sites (towns, military bases, airports, water sources, key roads and routes etc.). This period also saw perhaps the height of a deposit of battlefield ordnance (especially artillery shells, mortars, grenades), which today considerably outweigh landmines as the majority of contamination in the region.

Following Barre's effective defeat in the north-west, clan conflicts spread and diversified into the central and southern regions of the country. These conflicts continue today, or have achieved variously steady and unsteady settlements. Mine-laying in this region has been predominantly anti-technicals, and thus involves almost exclusively anti-tank rather than antipersonnel types. Mines have been used selectively, sporadically (disruptive handfuls, rather than extensive fields), and have been taken up as well as laid as front-lines have shifted. UXO deposits are somewhat limited, but include grenades, RPGs and bazookas.

B. Contamination

Somalia is sometimes described as one of the world's most heavily mined ...