After more than a decade of civil conflict in Syria, the widespread explosive ordnance contamination continues to threaten lives, hamper access to basic services, and obstruct the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the efforts of the international community toward building resilience and early recovery.
Records indicate that since 2013, an average of 4 people per day have been killed or injured by explosive ordnance, and, according to the 2022-2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview, 1 in 2 Syrians are estimated to be living in areas containing some form of explosive ordnance contamination. The need for sustained and comprehensive explosive ordnance mitigation measures and the integration of humanitarian mine action across the humanitarian response and early recovery programming, is paramount.
In addition, as indicated within the UN’s Syria Humanitarian Fund 2022-2023 allocation strategy, there is an urgent need to carry out technical and non-technical survey to ascertain the presence or absence of explosive ordnance contamination and support the safe delivery of humanitarian aid, safe access to services and livelihoods opportunities and foster resilience of community members.
Since July 2021, with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) initiated the establishment of a Mine Action and Disarmament (MAD) programme in government-controlled Syria. NPA successfully completed this initial phase in December 2021 with the signature of the MoU with the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates.
In January 2022, NPA commenced the operational phase which includes assessment, planning, training, and implementation of the humanitarian mine action intervention. NPA will primarily focus our activities on survey (technical and non-technical) of potentially hazardous areas and clearance in government-controlled areas of Syria under the current UN-led “Whole of Syria” approach.
A strictly humanitarian approach in Syria is paramount for NPA’s ability to retain status as an impartial humanitarian actor, obtain acceptance in local communities, and ensure NPA’s staff safety. Therefore, NPA’s intervention is guided by humanitarian needs based on relevant contamination and impact data. In addition, given the complexity of the context, NPA operates under a sound and comprehensive conflict sensitivity framework and a robust risk management system which not only considers safety and security aspects but also financial, legal and compliance issues related to sanctions and anti-terrorism measures.
NPA is currently operational with four multi-skilled operational teams and four non-technical Survey teams, conducting land release through non-technical survey, technical survey, mine clearance, Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD) and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) tasks. The mentioned capacity is gender balanced and currently funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and UN’s Syria Humanitarian Fund.
- Mine Ban Treaty : not a state party.
- The Convention on Cluster Munition: not a state party.
- Syria country profile in the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor