MOGADISHU –Senior officials of the Federal Government of Somalia and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) observed the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action with an event in the Somali capital that drew over a hundred participants and provided some troubling statistics about the menace still posed by the increasing use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the country.
“The numerous deadly IED incidents in highly populated areas is an obvious tragic reminder of the harshness of the threat that we face,” said Abdulkadir Abdulle Hooshow, the Director-General of the Somalia Explosive Management Authority (SEMA) that was established in 2013 to spearhead the federal government’s efforts to rid the country of landmines, unexploded ordnance and other explosive hazards.
According to estimates compiled by the UNMAS programme in Somalia, civilians account for 44 per cent of the number of fatalities caused by IEDs and 53 per cent of all injuries.
Mr. Hooshow pledged that Somalia will continue to enhance the protection of civilians through the sharing of information that can deter future IED attacks. He also reaffirmed the country’s determination to bolster national capabilities to counter that threat in a sustainable manner.
Participants in today’s forum learned that 37 locations contaminated by explosive hazards were identified in Somalia during 2018. More than 1,400 explosive remnants of war were destroyed last year.
“The path forward in achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development must be clear of landmines, explosive remnants of war and IEDs. All people have the right to live in security and not fear their next step,” said Qurat-Ul-Ain Sadozai, Head of the UNMAS Somalia Programme, as she read out a statement on behalf of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
According to Ms. Sadozai, UNMAS has increased its outreach activities in the areas of mine risk education and community engagement in order to curb the threat posed by unexploded ordnance left over from Somalia’s long civil war. A total of 30,438 people were reached by the UN agency’s outreach campaign in 2018.
The theme of this year’s International Day for Mine Awareness is “Safe Ground – Safe Home”, and it supports the forging of coalitions to raise funds to benefit survivors of armed conflict.
The Federal State Minister for Internal Security, Mohamud Mohamed ‘Bonow’, called on stakeholders and the mine action community to support the federal government’s implementation of a national plan to eradicate explosive hazards.
“We are dedicated through SEMA to double our efforts to provide safety, preserve dignity, observe the human rights of every Somali and protect them from the threats of explosive hazards and landmines,” he stated.
Representatives of civil society organisations also attended the forum, and Sayid-Ali Abdullahi of the Somali Disability Council called for increased support to survivors of explosive incidents.
The UNMAS programme in Somalia includes support to the African Union Mission in Somalia and the Somali Police Force to help mitigate the threat posed by IEDs.