According to information from director of BH Mine Action Center (BHMAC) Dušan Gavran, Bosnia and Herzegovina still leads by the number of landmine pollution in Southeastern Europe. Current suspicious surface is around 1.555 km2 – approximately 3.04 percent of the territory. Led by obligations taken by signing the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer or Anti-Personnel Mines, BHMAC made the Mine Action Strategy 2009 – 2010, adjusting to trends of EU, that would, with adequate Government aid, enable Bosnia to be a country free of landmines, without the risk of landmine accidents and with landmine victims integrated into society, states Gavran.
He says that a new Demining Law in BiH is in procedure, according to which BHMAC will no longer be an “expert body”, and will become an “Agency for Demining in BiH”, an administrative organization belonging to Ministry of Internal Affairs. At the same time, conditions for co-financing of implementation of Mine Action Strategy 2009 – 2019 will be created on all levels of authority.
BHMAC states that reasons for adoption of the new law in this area are also the fulfilling of international obligations that BiH accepted, and that are primarily related to Ottawa Convention. The new law will also significantly increase security on the territory of BiH, improve efficiency of anti-landmine activity, and establish a system that will enable reliable and professional conducting of assigned tasks.
By adopting this new Law, a country completely overtakes the responsibility for preventive protection against accidents in landmine fields, which includes marking of landmine fields, warning on landmines, setting the priorities, and penalty measures for violation of signs, stealing of signs and unauthorized demining. Finally, this document encourages development and research of a profession of anti-landmine activity, as well as advocacy in accordance with Ottawa Convention.
According to the adopted Mine Action Strategy 2009 – 2019, BiH would have to give 30 million KM annually for demining activities, Director of BHMAC, Dušan Gavran says: “The fact that the Government did not pay anything for the period from 2009 – April 2010 is devastating, while we owe all of our successes to the excellent team and cooperation inside BHMAC and of course foreign donations without which our work would practically be impossible”.
According to information from BHMAC, from 1996 to 2010, there were 1697 landmine victims, 496 of them fatal. There are a large number of those that conduct this humane but above all dangerous job, as follows: 107 injured deminers, out of which 43 fatally. In 2010 two accidents happened, one resulted in death.
“The BHMAC scout teams determined exactly which areas are suspicious in BiH, and those are regularly reduced, and BHMAC also has excellent results, in 2009 11.66 pieces of landmines were found per hectare, which is an excellent achievement if we take into consideration the fact that a satisfactory quota is 1-2 pieces per a hectare, thereby enabling and making it realistic that, with planned and coordinated work, BiH is completely “clean of landmines” by 2019, states Gavran.
BHMAC was established on the state level in 2002 by a decision of the Council of Ministers of BiH and represents an expert body of Demining Commission as a central body responsible for demining and conducting of long term assignment of landmine removal in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Demining Commission is a part of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and consists of three members in accordance to the principles of “constitutionality”.
At the moment, BHMAC has two main Offices – in Sarajevo and in Banja Luka, as well as eight Regional Offices established all over BiH, which enable local performance of majority of operational activities. The main responsibilities of BHMAC Office are locating and marking areas with landmines, and maintaining a database of landmine fields, demining activities and landmine victims.
“BHMAC has an excellent system of functioning, professional and competent employees, as well as excellent material and technical resources that deminers use in their everyday work”, says Gavran. At the moment there are 3100 accredited deminers, out of which 1396 who are active. There are 35 accredited demining organizations, as follows: five governmental, 16 non-governmental and 14 commercial organizations, with which, as director Gavran says, they have fair cooperation. The organizations have 1.336 metal-detectors, 37 accredited landmine removal machines, as well as 86 landmine removal dogs. According to the available demining capacities in BiH, it is estimated that it is possible to clean 35-40 km2 of territory per year completely.
Text and photo: Aner ZUKOVIĆ