Humanitarian Disarmament in Western Sahara
Western Sahara (WS) has an overwhelming amount of mine s, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war ( ERW ). This is the result of war between Polisario, backed by Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania. Since the status of Western Sahara is still not resolved, very limited Humanitarian Disarmament activities have taken place in Western Sahara. The total number of mine/ERW casualties in Western Sahara is not known but it has been estimated at more than 2000.
In 1998 NPA Humanitarian Disarmament established a Mine Risk Education (MRE) project in Western Sahara to sensitize the Western Sahara refugees living in camps in Algeria close to the Western Sahara border to the threat of landmines and ERW. In 2012, NPA re-engaged in Western Sahara with the implementation of MRE activities in coordination with the Saharawi Campaign to Ban Landmines (SCBL).
NPA further decided that there was a massive need to address the contamination in WS. Therefore, NPA is currently setting up its survey and clearance operations in WS.
During the initial Mine Risk Education project, more than 90 000 refugees received information from NPA.
Since the 1991 ceasefire, most of Western Sahara’s territory has been under Moroccan control. The territory is divided by a 2,000-kilometre long earthen wall, known as the ‘berm’, which was built by the Moroccan army during the 1980s and fortified with landmines.
NPAs Western Sahara programme is currently being established by the NPA Mauritania Humanitarian Disarmament Programme.