NPA clearance operations in Mauritania commenced 29 October
In 2011 NPA established a MOU with national authorities for mine action in Mauritania. Full accreditation was granted 27 October along with a tasking order to conduct survey and clearance operations in the Bir Mogrein area, far north in the country. Clearance operations with two deminer teams commenced 29 October.
The mine contamination in Mauritania is largely limited to the North-Western region of Mauritania. It is known that the areas of Nouadhibou, Tiris Zemmour, and Adrar also contain other Explosive Remnants of War (ERW), primarily as a result of the conflict over Western Sahara in 1975–1978. Surrounding Bir Mogrein is a series of mine belts with a mixture of Anti-Personnel and Anti-Vehicle mines stretching over 14,2 km. NPA has completed a Non-Technical Survey of the known minefields and almost completed the Technical Survey on the mine rows in the area. Capacity development of both NPA national staff and national authorities is ongoing and technical advisors have been brought into country specifically to assist in the training of medical staff, financial control and deminer training.
Initial findings by the end of November 2011 are that the available information of the mine maps handed over by Morocco fairly reflects the contamination on the ground. The NPA programme has met some challenges in the start-up process due to security concerns, general lack of infrastructure in the country and the harsh climate and remoteness of the operational area. NPA Field Base in Bir Mogrein is a two-day drive through remote desert areas from the office in the capital Nouakchott, which causes challenges for administrative and logistical support.
NPA has two demining teams in Bir Mogrein, and it is planned that in February 2012 two further teams will be trained, equipped and deployed for the operations to ensure that the Bir Mogrein Project is completed in 2012. The development of the national capacity will be ongoing and focus will be on land release issues and information management. NPA will conduct courses that the national authorities will be invited to in country and elsewhere in the Arabic speaking NPA Programs in Quality Management, development of national standards and information management. NPA will also be a major contributor to the national database.