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President of CCM visits NPA's working site

On Monday 13th May 2013, H.E. Ambassador Steffen Kongstad of Norway, the current President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, visited the village of Bogdanovac in Bujanovac Municipality, where NPA currently clears cluster munition remnants in south Serbia.

In April 2011, NPA started a three-year project with the aim of clearing three municipalities in south Serbia of cluster munition remnants. By 27th April 2012, NPA finished releasing all contaminated land in the Municipality of Presevo. The next Municipality to be cleared of cluster munition remnants was Kursumlija, finished on the 17th April 2013. From 20th April NPA works in the Municipality of Bujanovac, where current President of the CCM came on a field visit Monday 13th May, along with the Norwegian Defence Attaché to Serbia, Mr. Esben Aass and Ingunn Vatne Senior Advisor at NMFA.

On the three-year effort of releasing all contaminated land in three municipalities in south Serbia from unexploded remnants of cluster munitions, NPA has so far cleared around 2 km2, finding and disposing of 788 unexploded cluster sub-munitions and 702 other types of explosive remnants of war.

NPA Regional Director Emil Jeremic reminded Ambassador Kongstad about the reasons for why the three municipalities were chosen as a priority for clearance, due to bomb-data provided by NATO that showed that around 40% of the cluster munitions dropped on Serbia proper during the NATO intervention in 1999, were dropped in these three municipalities, causing several accidents among civilians and adding stone to the burden of the local population faced with a general lack of development and poverty in their municipalities, with cluster munitions littering their farmland, grazing fields and playgrounds.

NPA Programme Manager Vanja Sikirica showed the results of NPA’s land release effort in the three municipalities, with focus on the two municipalities already cleared, namely Presevo and Kursumlija. Director of the Serbian Mine Action Centre, Mr. Petar Mihajlovic, thanked Norway for their important support, and particularly the engagement of Ambassador Kongstad in solving the problem of cluster munition remnants in the Republic of Serbia. According to Director Mihajlovic, Serbia could be cleared by unexploded cluster munitions by the end of 2015 if funding is provided on the current level.

Ambassador Kongstad said he believed there were positive signals from the Serbian government representatives regarding the possibility for the Republic of Serbia to accede to the CCM in the near future.

Below table of NPA’s results on the three-year project aiming at clearing three municipalities in south Serbia of unexploded cluster sub-munitions.

Municipality Time period M² cleared M² reduced through non-technical survey Number of unexploded sub-munitions found and destroyed Number of found other types of ERW
PREŠEVO 29.04.2011 - 27.04.2012 975.610 536.000 87 18
KURŠUMLIJA 22.05.2012 - 17.04.2013 903.701 1.870.000 689 684
BUJANOVAC 20.04.2013 – in progress 112.894   12  
Total 29.04.2011 – (in progress) 1.992.205 2.406.000 788 702
21.05.2013 | Torunn Aaslund