United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS)
The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is mandated by the General Assembly to coordinate United Nations mine action. The Service also responds to requests for assistance from senior United Nations officials and Member States and implements Security Council mandates for peace operations. In addition to UNMAS components in peace operations that are funded by the assessed and regular budgets, UNMAS implements programmes using contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (VTF) in settings that do not host peace operations. UNMAS also administers extra-budgetary resources to advance mandate delivery in peace operation settings.
As a specialized service of the United Nations, UNMAS works to eliminate the threat posed by mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices by coordinating United Nations mine action, leading operational responses at the country level, and supporting the development of standards, policies, and norms.
Mandated by UNSCR 2461 (2019), 2498 (2019) and UNSCR 2550 (2020), UNMAS is an integrated component of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which provides strategic policy and technical advice to the Federal Government of Somalia and the Somali Security Forces.
Further mandated by UNSCR 2568 (2021), UNMAS is a component of the United Nations Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), which provides logistical support to AMISOM. Moreover, UNMAS has special status in the United Nations Country Team for coordinating humanitarian mine action activities in Somalia under the umbrella of the Global Protection Cluster.
Decades of armed conflict have left behind a legacy of explosive hazards, including landmines, munitions, and other types of explosive remnants of war (ERW). Such hazards pose a great risk to local populations, with a detrimental impact on peacebuilding and state-building activities. In addition, the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which are the weapon of choice of armed groups, contribute to further insecurity of the prevailing conflict.
Over the past 10 years, non-state armed groups have used IEDs as a weapon of choice against the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), with collateral impacts on civilians constituting more than 50 percent of resulting casualties. In addition to the IED threat, indirect fire, ERW, and landmines left behind from previous fighting continue to endanger the lives of civilian populations further preventing stability and peace throughout the country.
The threat from explosive hazards is further compounded by increasing returnees and internal displacements due to conflicts and natural disasters. The deepening drought and seasonal flooding conditions in Somalia are also expected to exacerbate internal displacements into potentially contaminated areas leading to further insecurity therefore intensive efforts are needed to reduce the risks posed by explosive hazards.
UNMAS started its operations in Somalia in 2008, amid ongoing conflict and increasing instability, to mitigate the threat and the negative impact of explosive threats. Over the years UNMAS has expanded its operations and is working in support of the transition plan at both Federal and Federal Member State level to undertake support to security forces in IED Defeat.
UNMAS activities contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring the fundamental principles of ‘leaving no one behind’ in line with the 2030 Agenda. UNMAS ensures projects aimed at mitigating the threat of explosive hazards are delivered to uphold mandate priorities and promote Somali led and owned processes.
- Support to Somalia’s Security Forces (SSF): UNMAS provides advice, training, and equipment to the Somali Police Force (SPF) and Somali National Army (SNA) to develop its explosive threat mitigation and bomb disposal capabilities across Somalia. Enhancing such capacity remains crucial, especially in regard to the gradual handing over of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somalia’s Security Forces (SFF). UNMAS is also supporting the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in weapons and ammunition management in line with sanctions obligations under the partial lifting of the arms embargo. Since 2018, over 1,062 police officials have received IED awareness training and over 891 specialised personnel have been trained on effectively dealing with explosive hazards including IEDs. Since January 2021, UNMAS provides IED Threat Mitigation training to the Somalia National Army (SNA) in the context of the progressive withdrawal of AMISOM and the transition to complete ownership of Security-related aspects by Somalia. 45 SNA troops have received IED Threat Mitigation (TM) training since November 2020 and 99 are currently undergoing IED TM training.
- Support to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM): UNMAS provides explosive threat mitigation support to AMISOM troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. To mitigate explosive threats against AMISOM personnel and assets, UNMAS trains and mentors troops in Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and IED threat mitigation, advises on operational planning processes, use of specialized equipment and services, with the aim of enhancing force protection and mobility. Since the beginning of 2018, UNMAS trained more than 37,189 AMISOM personnel in improvised explosive device search capacity and threat mitigation, and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).
- Humanitarian Explosive Management for Stabilization: UNMAS supports the protection of civilians in contaminated areas by coordinating humanitarian mine action activities such as survey, clearance, and Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE). Since 2015, UNMAS has supported the development of civilian-led clearance efforts along the Somali border with Ethiopia. Additionally, UNMAS has been working with Somali authorities to develop a national action to assist victims and survivors of explosive hazards to enhance the capacity of rehabilitation centres for explosive hazards survivors. UNMAS and the Somalia Explosives Management Authority (SEMA) concluded a survey in 2018/19 and subsequently drafted a National Action Plan to ensure the needs and rights of persons with disabilities and survivors affected by explosive hazards in Somalia is addressed. In 2020, UNMAS cleared 771,940 square meters of land along the Somalia-Ethiopia border areas intended for various resources such as grazing land, residence for pastoralists, safe track connecting villages and water catchment.
Working with Donors and Partners
UNMAS works with the support of donors and partners on several projects as mentioned above including the following:
- In coordination with SEMA, UNMAS initiated providing Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) and COVID awareness messages through solar powered Risk Education Talking Device (RETD), to aid in the delivery of safety awareness messages to children and vulnerable populations.
- UNMAS also collaborates with UNICEF and UNDP in the mitigation of the explosive threat in Somalia. The ‘One UN approach’ is implemented by the partners to facilitate reaching beneficiaries in the provision of EORE messages and strengthening the capacity of the government agencies sustainably. In 2020, UNMAS reached 62,532 beneficiaries, including school children, IDPs, schoolteachers, community education committees (CEC) and host communities in Banadir and Jubaland State.
- With the European Union (EU) in Somalia, UNMAS supports capability enhancement processes for the Government of Somalia and Communities and ensures effective implementation of mine action activities. UNAMS is also undertaking demining and risk education operations in Galmudug and Puntland states employing the local Somali population to undertake activities and create jobs.
- With the Government of Japan, UNMAS supports the capability enhancement support to the Government of Somalia to coordinate and respond to the threats of explosive hazards through advocacy, training, and EORE.
For more information about UNMAS, please visit the following links:
Explosive Detection Dogs (EDD):
Social Media & website
- UNMAS Website: www.unmas.org and https://www.unmas.org/en/programmes/somalia
- UNMAS Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/un_mineaction/?hl=en
- UNMAS LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/united-nations-mine-action-services/mycompany/
- UNMAS Twitter: https://twitter.com/UNMAS
- UNMAS YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/unmineaction
- UNMAS Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/unmas/
- UNMAS Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UnitedNationsMineActionService/