Mine Action


•           127,429,165 sqm of hazardous areas released (minefields and cluster strike areas)

•           8,555 km of roads verified or cleared for use by UN military observers patrols, of which 458 km have been verified since 1 July 2015

•           7,750 landmines removed and destroyed

•           7,935 unexploded ordnances destroyed

•           2,874 MINURSO personnel received Landmine Safety Training

•           52,998 local and nomadic people received mine risk education

•           104 individuals (11 survivors of mine accidents and 93 of their dependents) received assistance 

Both sides of the 1,465 km berm that divides the Territory of Western Sahara remain heavily contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of 16 years of conflict. Explosive hazards continue to endanger the lives of both UN military personnel who monitor the ceasefire and international personnel who provide logistical support east of the berm, as well as the vulnerable nomadic and local populations and their livestock on which they are very dependent.


Since February 2008, UNMAS has an established a mine action programme (Mine Action Coordination Center – MACC) within MINURSO. MACC has supported the implementation of the Mission mandate in monitoring the ceasefire. By reducing the threat of mines and other explosives devices, the MACC has enabled the safe passage for MINURSO military observers and civilian logistical support. The MACC also engages in activities supporting capacity enhancement, humanitarian clearance, mine risk education, landmine safety training and assistance to survivors of mine related accidents.


1. Mission funded activities

In the Territory of Western Sahara, east of the berm, the MACC clears minefields and cluster strike areas, conducts surveys as well as road clearance and verification. As a result of road verification efforts over the past years, MINURSO military observers are now able to use roads once believed to be contaminated. The MACC also delivers Landmine Safety Training to military and civilian MINURSO personnel stationed in the Territory of Western Sahara. These activities provide a safer environment for peacekeeping operations and the delivery of the Mission mandate. 

The information on mine actions activities is recorded into the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), which is shared with MINURSO and relevant stakeholders, allowing for safer movements.

2. Voluntary Trust Fund activities

With contributions from the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (VTF), UNMAS conducts humanitarian mine action. Through such activities, UNMAS enables for safer movement of local population and their livestock when travelling east of the berm. In addition, UNMAS provides local, nomadic and refugee populations with the knowledge necessary to stay safe in environments where landmines and ERW are present. Since January 2017, UNMAS is also enhancing its victim assistance efforts through a livestock income-generating and project which provides socio-economic rehabilitation and reintegration opportunities for survivors of landmine accidents. Furthermore, UNMAS supports capacity enhancement initiatives for its local mine action partner, SMACO and local victim assistance organization ASAVIM.

3. Cross-cutting activities

Since the establishment of the SMACO in 2013, UNMAS has been supporting the newly created local mine action organization to actively participate in mine action coordination activities east of the berm. UNMAS encourages SMACO’s active coordination of tasking, planning and accreditation of mine action organizations, as well as joint quality assurance for mine action activities.


The MACC programme in Western Sahara is primarily funded by the UN Assessed Budget (USD 3.26 million). The governments of Germany (EUR 3.85 million) and Spain (EUR 45,000) are contributing to the UNMAS programmes in Western Sahara through the Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF). Based on the needs shared by its local partners UNMAS is seeking additional funding in the area of survivor support and capacity enhancement in the field of organizational development, public information and International humanitarian law in relation to Mine Action and Victim Assistance. 

For more information:

Graeme Abernethy, Programme Manager, Territory of Western Sahara abernethy@un.org

Paul Heslop, Chief of Programme, UNMAS New York, heslop@un.org