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The Golan Heights, located along the
border of Syria and Israel, has housed many conflicts since 1948. Israel
inhabited most of the area during the 1967 Six-Day War, and since then,
some 15,000 Israelis have settled there. Several landmines have been
used in these disputes with Israel, as well as in a controversy with
Lebanon in 1982. Currently, Syria and Israel are still negotiating the
withdrawal of Israeli troops from the area.
Landmine / UXO Overview
In other regions of Syria, the
severity of the landmine threat is unclear, but it is believed there are
roughly 100,000 mines dispersed throughout the land. Reports indicate
that there are approximately 67,000 mines residing along Jordan’s
border and an unknown number of landmines along Turkey’s border.
So far, Syria has not signed the
Ottawa Treaty because the government feels they need the landmines for
protection against Israel. There are no records that indicate whether
Syria produces or exports landmines, but Jordan claims to own AP mines
from Syria. It is also believed that Syria is stockpiling a large supply
of AP mines of unknown origin.
Several individuals have suffered from
landmine-related accidents in the Golan Heights and other infested areas
of Syria, but an exact number is unknown at this time. The Syrian
government provides free medical service to its civilians, and landmine
victims are provided with various emergency care and rehabilitative
services. Various organizations that support landmine victims and other
disabled civilians are based in Damascus.
The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
conducted landmine clearance in the Golan Heights from November 1999 to
May 2000. In addition, the Russian Army performed a series of demining
activities, but there are no records that indicate where these
activities were conducted or how much area was cleared. Throughout 2000,
numerous mine awareness activities were conducted including an art
exhibit displaying artwork by landmine victims in Syria.
Recently, Syrian officials have been criticized for
oppressing civil rights activists and preventing them from meeting
without government consent. Human rights activists have accused Syria of
violating various human rights laws by ordering their people to keep
quiet about any issues going on in the country. Currently, the European
Union is investigating the situation and negotiating an agreement with
Syria in order to guarantee human rights.
Permanent Representative of the Syrian
Arab Republic to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue, 15th
New York, N.Y. 10017
Tel: (212) 661-1313
Fax: (212) 983-2239