The remaining unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the past war is still a danger in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), which is why citizens are being urged to be extra careful. According to official data, 621 people died from mines in our country in 25 years, while 1.151 were seriously or lightly injured.
With the arrival of better days, a longer stay of citizens in nature followed, which led to an increase in reports of UXO. Therefore, the authorities call citizens for increased caution, pointing out the importance of respecting the warnings.
3% of the Tuzla Canton (TC) area has mines
TC is known as one of the areas where minefields are particularly present, and approximately 80 million square meters of land that are currently under UXO have been officially recorded. This represents 3% of the total area of this region of our country.
According to the data available to the administration, since the signing of the Dayton Peace Agreement, more than 200 mine accidents have occurred in all municipalities and cities of TC, in which 122 people died and 136 were seriously and lightly injured.
Accidents due to ignorance or coincidence are rare
Assistant Director of the Cantonal Civil Protection Administration Dragan Pelemis says in an interview that accidents very rarely happen out of ignorance or coincidence, in the sense that a person does not notice mine warning signs or is not from the area where the demarcation line was.
”All civil accidents have occurred mainly in marked areas and the most common reasons for this are the overlooked mine warnings and conscious entry into suspicious areas due to hunting or deforestation. This has been done for years in the same areas because there are beliefs that there are no mines there after all, given that they have passed without noticing a UXO before, which is wrong,”says Pelemis, emphasizing that it is especially important to explain to children what dangers mines bring.
Despite all the precautions, if a person happens to be in a minefield, Pelemis gave advice on how to behave.
”The golden rule is not to move anywhere because any movement is risky. People usually get hurt trying to get out of a minefield because they choose to follow the path they took. If a person has a signal on their mobile phone, they must immediately call the police and/or civil protection, but if there is no signal, you can shout loudly so that someone might hear you,” advises Pelemis, emphasizing that during 2021, no civilians or animals were killed by landmines and UXO in the area of TC.
Demining in BiH depends on donors, of which there are fewer and fewer
As it is stated, as in all previous years, demining largely depends on donor funds that are implemented in BiH directly or through the ITF Enhancing Human Security organization (previously named International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance). The largest donors are the governments of the United States (U.S.), Germany, Norway, and Japan.
”Unfortunately, it is noticeable that the share of donor funds has been constantly declining in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic and the opening of new hotspots in the world are taking donors to other, more interesting parts of the world. Obviously, the time has come for more active involvement of domestic resources at all levels of government, especially state ones,” stated the Civil Protection of TC, Klix.ba writes.