2015 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Bosnia and Herzegovina

Report
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Date: 2015 Description: Sterling Global contractors prepare to destroy excess Bosnian mortars.  © Photo courtesy of Sterling Global.

Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to face landmine and UXO contamination primarily due to the conflict (1992–1995) that resulted from the break-up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The country has the highest levels of landmine contamination in the Balkans. By the end of 2013, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) reported a total contamination of 1,219,000,000 square meters (more than 470 square miles) impacting more than 1,400 communities and 540,000 people. In addition, inherited stockpiles of conventional arms and munitions from the former Yugoslav National Army remain in excess to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national security needs and present a continued risk of accidental explosion as munitions deteriorate. The threat of weapons being dispersed illicitly from unsecured munitions depots remains a primary concern.

The Balkan flood disaster in May 2014 caused severe damage throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Seventy percent of the flood-affected area is in landmine-affected communities, and the floodwaters moved many mines, cluster munitions, and UXO. PM/WRA deployed its QRF to provide technical assistance and support to BHMAC and identify current BHMAC needs in addressing initial emergency response. A survey confirmed that the floods affected some 320 million square meters (more than 123 square miles) of landmine-contaminated suspected hazardous areas.

From FY1996 through FY2014, the United States invested more than $101.5 million in Bosnia and Herzegovina for CWD programs including landmine clearance, mine risk education, survivor assistance, munitions stockpile destruction, and physical security and stockpile management (PSSM). In FY2014, the U.S. government contributed more than $4.5 million for CWD in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Department of State supported the work of the following implementing partners:

• ITF continued clearing landmines and UXO at high-priority sites selected jointly by U.S. Embassy representatives, BHMAC, and ITF personnel.

• Sterling Global provided technical advisers to assist the Bosnian Armed Forces in reducing their massive stockpile of conventional munitions. These efforts included destruction oversight and capital improvements to demilitarization facilities.

• Marshall Legacy Institute conducted its Children Against Mines program and Mine Detection Dog Partnership program. These projects enhanced the local demining capacity, provided mine risk education, and assisted landmine survivors.

With Department of Defense funding, USEUCOM deployed military EOD personnel with trainers from the Alabama National Guard (United States) to conduct a basic landmine clearance train-the-trainer course for 15 Bosnian EOD personnel, including survey, marking, and mapping of landmine and UXO contaminated areas; landmine and UXO disposal training; quality assurance and control; and program assessment visits to monitor and improve all aspects of the UXO disposal program. The OHDACA appropriation funded humanitarian mine-action program activities, supplies, equipment, and services.