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 many years of conflicts end. 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 among the 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 impacted country. 

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

  • Technical and non-technical survey
  • Mine/EO clearance operations
  • Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) and Victim Assistance

   CHDE also provides expertise conclusion on the issue of goods of military importance that are exported from Armenia, imported into Armenia, and 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 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 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. 

The situation has changed after the 44-days war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, it greatly changed 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, currently, CHDE SNCO, in cooperation with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), implements non-technical survey activities in the hazardous communities of Armenia aiming to reduce mine risk. 

Clearance operations of mine impacted areas initiated in 2014. Since then, 270,119 marea has been cleared, 363,997 m2 has been canceled and reduced through non-technical (NTS) and technical (TS) surveys in Syunik region, and 46,882 m2 area in 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 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. 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 mission is implemented in Aleppo, Syrian Arab Republic, and since November 2021 –  Rural Damascus Governorate, Syrian Arab Republic. 

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

We hope that our efforts will have their result in this essential issue.

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