Mine Action Activities in Armenia


By Ms. Karine Shamiryan, Head of International Affairs, Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise, Armenia.

Many countries and states of the world face the long-lasting destructive impacts of armed conflicts even after the end of many years of conflict. Mines and Explosive Ordnance (EO) are legacies of war that continue to maim or kill people without discriminating between combatants and civilians, the young and the old. The Republic of Armenia is one among the numerous countries that have been afflicted by the issue of mine and EO contamination.

To coordinate mine action activities in Armenia the Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise State Non-Commercial Organization (CHDE SNCO) was established by the Government of the Republic of Armenia (RoA) in 2011 by assuming national responsibility for the issue as a mine-affected country.

Until 2011, the Armenian Mine Action Program was developed under the Armenian Armed Forces. In 2014, the CHDE was recognized as the national mine action authority (NMAA) of Armenia. As such, the CHDE coordinates mine action activities in the RoA. They are:

· Conducting a technical and non-technical survey

· Carrying out Mine/EO clearance operations

· Providing Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) and Victim Assistance

The CHDE also provides expertise conclusion on the issue of goods of military importance that are exported from Armenia, imported into Armenia and/or transferred through the territory of Armenia. During 2012-2013, the Swiss Foundation of Mine Action (FSD), in cooperation with the “Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise” conducted a non-technical survey. The survey identified mine and EO contamination in four regions of Armenia.

They are as follows: Syunik, Tavush, Gegharkunik and Vayots Dzor.

Totally, 11 Suspected Hazardous Areas (SHA) and 121 Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHA) were identified. The areas are contaminated with anti-personnel (AP) mines, anti-vehicle (AV) mines, or a combination of both, as well as unexploded ordnance (UXO). According to the survey, the Syunik region had the highest number of CHAs/SHAs (82 out of 131). The survey addressed the issue of mine contamination resulting from the Armenian-Azerbaijani armed conflict over Nagorno-Karabagh dating back to 1988-1994.

Most recently, the situation has changed after the 44-days war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, greatly affecting the scale and the type of contamination. The bordering territory of Armenia, particularly the Syunik and Gegharkunik regions, were bombed. Aerial and missile attacks targeted many civilian infrastructures causing new contamination of areas with cluster munitions. The post-conflict situation has urged a need for planning and conducting non-technical and technical surveys to identify the extent of EO contamination in the territory of Armenia. Thus, emphasizing the urgency of the issue, the CHDE SNCO is currently cooperating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement non-technical survey activities in the hazardous communities of Armenia aiming to reduce mine risk.

Clearance operations of mine-impacted areas kickstarted in 2014. Since then, an area of 270,119 m2 has been cleared, 363,997 m2 have been canceled and reduced through non-technical (NTS) and technical surveys (TS) in the Syunik region, and 46,882 m2 in the Gegharkunik region.

As mine and EO clearance is a time-consuming activity requiring a lot of resources, it is very important to prevent people from endangering their health and lives by entering hazardous areas. Hazardous areas are marked by fencing and installing mine warning signs to provide a warning of danger for local population. During 2016-2018 CHDE implemented marking activities in the Syunik, Tavush, Gegharkunik and Vatots Dzor regions. Totally, 79 hazardous areas have been marked by covering the perimeter of CHAs/SHAs with a tape containing mine warning message and installing mine warning signs.

CHDE conducts Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) to reduce the risks from Explosive Ordnance (EO) to a level where people can live in mine impacted communities safely. All EORE activities are aimed at raising awareness of all the groups of society and educating and encouraging them to behave safely to avoid the risk of injury from EO.

EORE activities include public information dissemination, education and training. All EORE materials are elaborated taking into consideration the needs and vulnerabilities of different groups. In 2016, the EORE program was organized in the framework of the “Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects”, financed by the Japanese Government.

Within the frameworks of the project EORE booklets and 5 types of EORE thematic posters were elaborated and published. EORE posters were distributed and posted in 1393 schools of the RoA. CHDE specialist conducted EORE trainings for teachers in order for them to deliver the EORE messages on safe behavior to schoolchildren and to be able to answer their questions correctly. The published booklets were disseminated among the students from 14 Universities. On top of that, the CHDE specialists annually implement EORE for 10.000 schoolchildren.

To raise mine awareness and to make EORE trainings much more interactive relevant videos and cartoons were shot for different age groups.

Unfortunately, today there are more than 700 mine victims in Armenia. CHDE mutually cooperates with the Armenian office of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) aiming to enable to develop and implement educational and social rehabilitation programme for mine victims so promoting the improvement of social and living conditions, as well as reintegration into society.

CHDE SNCO highly emphasizes International Affairs as this is a global issue․ CHDE SNCO implements a humanitarian mission outside Armenia, contributing to the increase of the international reputation of the Republic of Armenia.

Since February 2019, humanitarian missions are implemented in Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic and, since November 2021, in the Rural Damascus Governorate of the Syrian Arab Republic.

CHDE gives great importance to the work quality, which is why CHDE specialists regularly participate in trainings organized by the international partners to improve their skills.

We hope that our efforts will deliver their results in this essential issue.

**All images courtesy of the CHDE.

About the Author:

Ms. Karine Shamiryan is the Head of International Affairs at the “Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise” SNCO. Due to her, the CHDE cooperates with international organizations, partners and donors, as well as with training centers that enable the CHDE specialists to improve their skills and knowledge. From 2020-2021 Karine Shamiryan was a specialist at the Explosive Ordnance Risk Education department, she had her dedicated activities in this humanitarian issue teaching the children from mine contaminated areas the rules of safe behavior. However, her activities in humanitarian mine action have started since 2018. She has her undeniable efforts in humanitarian mine action in the Republic of Armenia.

Karine Shamiryan received her bachelor’s degree at Yerevan State University (YSU) and master’s degree at the National Academy of Science of the Republic of Armenia (NAS RA).

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