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In 1962, Algeria successfully overthrew the French
government and voted for independence after an eight-year Liberation
War. Upon signing their constitution in 1972, Algeria became a socialist
country under the leadership of the National Liberation Front (FNL). In
1992, Muslims began rebelling against the government, leading to several
armed disputes over the next seven years. Currently, Algeria is working
to clear its lands of UXO from previous disputes.
Landmine / UXO Overview
The full extent of Algeria’s landmine problem has never been assessed,
but the government reports an estimated 1.3 million mines (913,000 in
the east and 420,100 in the west). Many of these mines were left from
the Liberation War, when roughly 20 types of mines were laid. The border
area of Tunisia and Morocco contains a reported density of one landmine
per meter left behind by French troops, and the Northern Coastal areas
contain mines left by German and Italian troops in WWII.
In December 1997, Algeria signed the Ottawa Convention Treaty requesting
an immediate response from other countries. To exhibit its dedication to
banning landmines, Algeria has formed a National Algerian Committee
Against Anti-personnel Landmines that will enforce a mine action program
and encourage support of the Mine Ban Treaty.
There are few records regarding the number of mine victims and
casualties in Algeria, and when an incident occurs, it is hard to
determine whether newly manufactured AP mines or previously existing
landmines/UXO caused it. However, many accidents have occurred in
regions formerly inhabited by militant groups. A large portion of the
National Algerian Committee Against Anti-personnel Landmines’ efforts
will go towards rehabilitating mine victims in order to integrate them
back into society.
No comprehensive data on demining activities in Algeria is available,
but the government reports conducting both mine clearance and mine
awareness programs. A group of explosive ordnance disposal experts run
by the National Security Police has been formed to handle landmines and
other UXO in urban regions of the country. The U.S. government is
considering assisting in mine clearance in Algeria, which was requested
in December 1999.
During the seven years of rebel attacks against the Algerian government,
an estimated 75,000 lives were lost, causing many to wonder whether the
government was fully protecting its citizens. In response to concerns
expressed by various human rights organizations, the United Nations
investigated these prevalent acts of massive violence. The United
Nations declared that the Islamic activists were mostly responsible, and
they encouraged the government to enhance its humanitarian and
Mr. Abdelkaber Gharbi
Algerian Campaign to Ban Landmines
Rue Mohamed Todibeb