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Operations in South Serbia completed

NPA Mine Action Programme Serbia team with Ambassador Kamsvåg

NPA Mine Action Programme Serbia completes its cluster sub-munitions clearance operations in the municipality of Bujanovac.

NPA MAP Serbia completes its cluster sub-munitions clearance operations in three municipalities of south Serbia implemented under the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Serbian Mine Action Centre in April 2011. The funding for this three-year project was provided by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the bilateral cooperation with the Government of Serbia.

The official closure of the Cluster Clearance Project in South Serbia was organised on October 16, 2013 in the municipality of Bujanovac and was attended by the Norwegian Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Nils Ragnar Kamsvåg, representatives from the local communities, representatives from the Serbian Mine Action Centre, NPA and local media.

During the NATO bombing campaign in 1999, based on GPS bomb-data received from NATO, approximately 37,000 cluster sub-munitions were dropped from NATO aircrafts on multiple targets in Serbia, leaving unexploded cluster sub-munitions affecting 28 local communities in 16 municipalities.

In the end of 2008, when NPA, in cooperation with the Serbian Mine Action Centre, completed the non-technical survey in the country, approximately 30 km2 were defined as hazardous area, of which 15 as confirmed hazardous area. Almost 5 km2 of confirmed hazardous area were located in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Kursumlija. During the non-technical survey it was also established that almost 40 percent of all cluster sub-munitions were dropped in these three municipalities. These were some of the reasons why NPA decided to implement the operations in this particular area.

The operations started on April 29, 2011 in the municipality of Presevo and were completed on Nov. 18, 2013 in the municipality of Bujanovac. More than 2,800,000 m2 of confirmed hazardous land were cleared in these three municipalities, 903 pieces of cluster munitions and 786 pieces of other UXOs were found and destroyed. During the same period additional 2,800,000 m2 of confirmed hazardous area in these municipalities were released through non-technical survey based on NPA’s clearance results. This way, all areas that had been known to be hazardous in these municipalities have been released through clearance and non-technical survey by NPA and handed over to local population for safe use.

Most of the agricultural land in the municipalities of Presevo and Kursumlija is now covered in crops and/or used as pastures. Forests in the municipalities of Kursumlija and Bujanovac that were subject to frequent fires, which could not have been extinguished due to presence of cluster munitions, can now be freely maintained and exploited. In the municipality of Bujanovac cluster munitions were found in the corn fields that have been tended all these years and it was a pure luck they were not activated during ploughing.

During the implementation of the operations in Serbia, NPA has made over 60 percent of the total clearance output in the country. In addition NPA seconded a non-technical survey team to the Serbian Mine Action Centre and thereby participated in the land release through non-technical survey. For the purpose of the clearance project NPA Serbia has employed 35 staff members of whom 31 have been directly engaged in operations.

Today, 5 years after the baseline of the problem in Serbia had been set to approximately 30 km, following the clearance efforts by commercial companies and NPA as well as simultaneous non-technical survey activities conducted by NPA, suspected hazardous area in the country covers less than 6 km2 in 6 municipalities.

NPA’s immediate clearance outputs per municipalities in south Serbia:

Municipality Period No. of m² cleared No. of cluster sub-munitions No. of UXO
Presevo 29.04.11. – 09.05.12. 975,610 87 18
Kursumlija 22.05.12. – 17.04.13. 903,701 689 686
Bujanovac 18.04.13. – 18.11.13. 973,937 127 82
Totals 29.04.11. – 18.11.13. 2,853,248 903 786
06.12.2013 |