Humanitarian Disarmament in Montenegro
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) began its re-engagement in Montenegro in 2018, working in close collaboration with the Directorate for Emergency Management, within the Ministry of Interiors (MoI).
This programme is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) and aims to ensure sustainable improvements of the living conditions of those affected by cluster munition remnants (CMR) in Montenegro. Through increasing the safe access to land for agriculture, commerce and livelihoods. NPA previously supported Montenegro by conducting a detailed non-technical survey and training of MoI staff on quality control of such vital operations.
Montenegro has an estimated 1.72km2 of land containing cluster munition remnants (CMR). The areas suspected or confirmed to contain CMR are located in the rural municipalities of Plav, Tuzi and Rozaje and one urban municipality Golubovic. Some of the contamination was initially identified by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) in a detailed non –technical survey conducted in 2012.
Montenegro has requested international assistance to meet the demands of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) as well as for capacity building and clearance.
The NPA programme in Montenegro will conduct non-technical surveys at two locations suspected to be contaminated with cluster munition remnants in the municipality of Plav (Bogajice and Murino ). These locations are situated at high altitudes and access is challenging in the winter months.
This programme aims to ensure land release through non-technical survey, clearance and technical survey of cluster munitions in order to secure sustainable improvements of the living conditions of those affected by CMR in Montenegro.
In 2018 NPA supported the development, agreement and signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of Interior (MOI) who are the national mine action management actors in Montenegro and NPA. The agreement on the implementation of the humanitarian disarmament programme « Land release of areas contamnated with cluster munition remnants in Montenegro» aims to assist the national authorities of Montenegro in their succesful completion of its obligations under Article 4 of the Convention of Cluster Munitions (CCM).
A highly skilled and experienced operations team were recruited by NPA enabling the most effective commencement and delivery of the programme. An office was opened in Montenegro and effective and productive working relations with the MOI have been established.
In 2018 NPA’s activity was predominantly focused on technical survey and clearance using one manual demining team, working in collaboration with the Montenegrin national authorities, which released 178.440,00 sqm of land previously contaminated by CMR. The team completed the work safely and ahead of schedule in Rozaje. A more remote mountainous area close to the border of Kosovo. A joint field visit to the area by the MoI and NPA was conducted and the execution plan for land release of 92,190 sqm was signed off.
The team moved to Sipcanik Rakica Kuce, close to Podgorica and completed 86,250 sqm of land release through technical survey and clearance. These areas are expected to ultimately be used mostly for agriculture which provides food security and livelihoods for local people. The clearance also improves the safety of all persons accessing this land.
NPA also work to develop the capacity of the local mine action authority by working in close collaboration at management and operational levels. Ensuring delivery and participation of joint refresher trainings to facilitate safe and effective operations.
The operations team are now working in and around Podgorica airport. Due to aviation needs the context and area is quite complex, requiring close collaboration with the airport security and authorities. The close and productive cooperation with colleagues here continues and efforts to continue to ensure good practice. This work will continue in 2019 whilst also ensuring communities and all stakeholders are aware of the benefits of the programme.
Montenegro became contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), mainly unexploded ordnance (UXO), as a result of conflicts during the break-up of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The contamination also included CMR left after North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) air strikes on Serbian and Montenegrin military positions in 1999.
Montenegro is a small, ethnically diverse country in South Eastern Europe with an estimate population of 629,218. It has an open economy, aspiring to join the European Union (EU) by 2025. The economy is vulnerable to external shocks, relying heavily on foreign capital, and concerning rising public debts and high unemployment. The country is exposed to earthquakes and floods, with floods posing the greater risk.
From 21 July – 6 October 2010, the remaining 273 cluster bombs of type BL 755 were detonated, thus effectively fulfilling Montenegro’s stockpile destruction obligations under Article 3 of the Convention within only two months of the Convention coming into force for Montenegro.
According to NPA’s 2013 cluster munition remnants survey ( CMRS ) report, from 1999 until April 2013, a total of 1,873 sub munitions had been found and destroyed in the location of cluster munition strike zones.
Montenegro is also heavily contaminated by other ERW, with items of UXO discovered throughout the country, on land as well as in rivers and the sea.
The NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS) project, which was launched in Montenegro in 2014 to provide the UXO clearance team of the Directorate for Emergency Situations with technical capacity and training in the detection and destruction of UXO,ended in December 2017.
The Directorate for Emergency Situations, established in 2006 by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, is responsible for mine action in Montenegro, performing the role of a national mine action center.
NPA are assisting Montenegro with a completion initiative for the cluster convention treaty for their compliance.
NPA have recruited and deployed one team to date comprising six clearance personnel, in addition to a medic, team leader, quality assistance (QA) officer, site manager, operations manager, administration officer and program manager. A specialised mine detection dog team is being deployed to support the operations and possibly another manual team.