The Tajikistan Mine Action Centre is responsible for all mine-action-related programs in the country. The author details Tajikistan’s landmine problems and provides a report on TMAC’s progress in various aspects of mine action as well as its goals for future mine-related operations.
Both sides in Tajikistan’s five-year civil war in the 1990s used anti-personnel mines and many of these weapons remain in place in the country’s central area. Uzbek forces laid APMs along their border with Tajikistan and some remain in disputed territory. Minefields also exist along the border with Afghanistan in land recently handed over to Tajik sovereignty by Russian forces. Nearly 10 years after the end of the civil war, landmines continue to create obstacles for accessing grazing and agricultural land in Tajikistan and cause economic hardship for its people. The problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war contributes to human suffering and livestock loss.
The landmine issue continues to be a source of concern for the government of Tajikistan and demining remains vitally important to national development plans. Foreign-manufactured landmines kill, maim and threaten rural Tajiks who are living in the poorest areas of their own country. Landmines were placed by the Soviet Union, Russian forces (following Tajik independence), the Tajiks themselves, and Uzbek forces along Uzbek-Tajik borders. Areas on the Afghan and Uzbek borders and former battlefields in the central region continue to present a hazard to the rural poor who have to live with the threat of explosive remnants of war as part of their daily lives.
The Tajikistan national government has adopted a long-term strategic plan, one that is linked to mine-action goals and national development plans. The government’s commitment to mine-action initiatives is visible and increasing. Tajikistan has been a State Party of the Ottawa Convention1 since 1 April 2000, and the government is also a signatory of Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.2
Humanitarian Impact of AP Mines and UXO
Landmines and items of unexploded ordnance appeared in the central part of Tajikistan during the civil war years when both sides of the conflict used anti-personnel mines and other munitions along the Tajik-Uzbek and Tajik-Afghan borders. The central region incorporates the Tavildara region and the Rasht Valley, as well as parts of the Gorno-Badakhshan region. Landmines, UXO and other remnants of war continue to be a hazard for the people in this region.
Along some parts of the Tajik border with Afghanistan, Russian forces and border troops laid and maintained mines to counter cross-border infiltration and for self-protection. In 2005, Russian forces completed the hand-over process to Tajik colleagues. Mine records were also provided.
Uzbek forces laid APMs along the border with Tajikistan, and the first deaths and injuries involving civilians in this border area were reported in August 1999. Seventy-two deaths and 85 injuries have occurred in these communities, and in excess of 2,000 head of livestock have been lost. Since 1992, 239 people have been injured and 238 killed as the result of mine accidents in Tajikistan. Children account for 20 percent of these casualties.
The problem of mine contamination seriously affects the civil population who are engaged in farming, wood gathering, grazing and activities related to normal rural life. Landmines also adversely affect agricultural development, the environment and the economy of the country. Almost all the inhabitants within at-risk communities have received mine-risk education and awareness training. Still, economic imperatives drive local populations to continue visiting hazardous areas, which often results in death and injury.
Tajikistan Mine Action Centre
On 20 June 2003, the Tajik government signed an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme called “Support to the Tajikistan National Mine Action Programme,” and the Tajikistan Mine Action Centre was established. The Centre is a governmental structure and is responsible for all mine-action-related issues in Tajikistan. It is also the executive authority of the national Commission on Implementation of International Humanitarian Law.
Planning, Monitoring and Coordinating
TMAC develops mine-action plans (strategic and annual), national standards and other strategic documents related to mine action and submits them to the Commission on the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law for approval. Implementation of the Tajik Mine Action Programme is in accordance with the Mine Action Strategic Five-year Plan for 2004–08 and the Annual Plan, which CIIHL approved 13 April 2004.
TMAC is responsible for coordinating and monitoring all mine-action activities in Tajikistan. Within this framework, TMAC updates the national mine-action plan and undertakes the development, priority selection, planning and coordination of operations. It also prioritizes new tasks, confirms completion of tasks and gives certificates of cleared sites to local authorities. TMAC provides its partners with information on mined areas and operations obtained from the Information Management System for Mine Action, as well as on mine incidents and mine survivors.
ТМАС quality-assurance officers confirm that demining management methods and procedures are in accordance with national and international standards.
TMAC’s major partners are the UNDP, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UNICEF, the Tajikistan Red Crescent, representatives of the donor countries in Tajikistan, Fondation Suisse de Déminage (the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action), the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, Ministries of Security, Justice, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Education, Labour and Social Protection, Defence, Health, and Emergency Situations, the State Committee for Protection of the State Border and local executive authorities.
In accordance with Article 5 of the Ottawa Convention, each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all AP mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than 10 years after the entry into force of this, for Tajikistan this deadline is 1 April 2010.
As a signatory to the Convention, Tajikistan completed destruction of its stockpiles (3,029 AP mines) on 31 March 2004. The Ministry of Defence, supported by FSD, undertook the destruction.
On 20 June 2003, the government signed an agreement with Fondation Suisse de Déminage. Funding is channelled through the UNDP and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and FSD is now the national survey and mine-clearance partner in Tajikistan, with four survey and four mine-clearance teams. More than 100 mined areas have been identified so far as a result of survey operations.
In 2004, three mined areas were cleared and handed over to local authorities for future use. Since the Technical Survey and mine clearance started in July 2004, more than 180,000 square metres (44 acres) and more than 2,000 mines and items of UXO have been cleared.
To speed the process of mine clearance, TMAC plans to establish four mine-detecting dog teams. TMAC thinks this issue is very important for the programme, and the Centre is looking for donors to fund the project.
MRE workshop participants get familiar with the types of mines and UXO.
Photo courtesy of FSD
The Red Crescent Society of Tajikistan, supported by the ICRC and UNDP, is undertaking MRE in 14 districts of the country (border areas of the Sugd region, the Rasht valley and Vanj, and the Darvoz districts of the Gorno Badakhshan region). In August 2005, UNICEF initiated a small, joint pilot project together with the Ministry of Education of Tajikistan. RCST and UNICEF volunteers conduct complementary activities to educate the local population about mine hazards and how to live with landmines.
More than 3,200 large mine-hazard warning signs have been manufactured and more than 2,200 were placed in border areas in the Sugd region. The remainder will be erected in the southern part of the country. To provide more information on MRE activities, 6,000 copies of the U.N. booklet Guideline to Mine & UXO Safety written in Tajik and 3,000 copies in Uzbek languages were distributed. More than 22,000 leaflets were issued with appropriate guidelines for distribution by the programme’s volunteers, military personnel, local authorities, teachers and active advocates of the programme.
Assistance to Survivors
A project called Assistance to Landmine Survivors, implemented within the framework of cooperation among the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Tajikistan, ICRC, UNDP and RCST, assists disabled persons, including landmine survivors, by providing prostheses and medical assistance in the national Orthopaedic Centre, Dushanbe. An income-generation project implemented by RCST in 2005 delivered breeding pairs of goats or sheep to 72 landmine survivors in three mine-affected districts of the Sugd region and three mine-affected districts of Rasht valley. These individuals can now establish small-scale livestock enterprises, each returning one offspring to the RCST to redistribute and expand the project. There is a need to extend this project in the future to provide for all mine survivors.
TMAC, in cooperation with the MLSPP, ICRC, UNDP and RCST, organized a summer camp for 32 mine survivors in Romit valley of the Vahdat district in July 2005. The camp provided the survivors an opportunity for psychological rehabilitation and social integration.
A regional conference, “Progress towards the Ottawa Convention’s Aims in Central Asia,” was held 15–16 April 2004, in Dushanbe. The conference was organized by the UNDP with the support of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. Official representatives of central Asian countries and Afghanistan, the UNDP, the OCSE, the GICHD, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the ICRC, representatives of diplomatic corps and international organizations registered in Tajikistan, governmental authorities and NGO representatives took part in the conference. Participants discussed the implementation process of the Ottawa Convention in the region on the eve of the First Review Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The conference adopted a statement that stressed the necessity of support for the process of the Ottawa Convention and the need for the central Asian countries to accede to the Convention. It pleased officials that Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan took part in the conference.
The official delegation of the Republic of Tajikistan took part in the First Review Conference in Nairobi and made a presentation about the process of implementing the Ottawa Convention. ТМАС and other governmental representatives continue to take an active role in international conferences and meetings on the banning of anti-personnel mines. ТМАС conducts ongoing training, meetings, liaison and other activities as part of the process of implementation of the Tajikistan Mine Action Programme.
In accordance with Article 7 of the Ottawa Convention, the Republic of Tajikistan submits its annual reports to the U.N. Secretary-General on the country’s mine-contamination status and on the completion process to comply with the Convention.
The Civil War of the 1990s created a mine/UXO problem for Tajikistan that is still threatening the daily lives of its citizens a decade later. The Tajikistan Mine Action Centre is remedying the devastating effects this problem has had on the country. TMAC, with international support, has started and will continue to make huge strides in mine/UXO clearance, mine-risk education and victim assistance.
Jonmadmad Rajabov graduated from the High Political School of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in St. Petersburg in 1987. He then worked at the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Defence of the Republic of Tajikistan. Before taking this position, he worked for seven years at the Presidential Office at the Department of Defence, Legal Issues, Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
- Formally known as the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 10, 1980. http://www.ccwtreaty.com/KeyDocs/ccwtreatytext.htm. Accessed June 5, 2006.
- Amended Protocol II (which extended the restrictions of the treaty to include landmines, provided standards of reliability for remotely detonated mines, and prohibited the use on non-detectable fragments in anti-personnel landmines; a failure to agree on a total ban on landmines led to the convening of the Ottawa Convention) of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, Geneva, Switzerland, Oct. 10, 1980. http://www.ccwtreaty.com/KeyDocs/ccwtreatytext.htm. Accessed June 5, 2006.
Tajikistan Mine Action Centre
734025, 15 M. Kurbonov Street
Dushanbe / Tajikistan
Tel: +992 37 221 66 87, 23 51 87
Fax: +992 37 221 66 87
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