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Landmines in Bosnia and Herzegovina

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  1. Introduction
  2. The three distinct armies
    1. Bosnian government army (ARBiH)
    2. The Bosnian Croat army (HVO)
    3. The Bosnian Serb army (VRS)
  3. The human impact
  4. Impact of mines on living standards
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

The conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina began shortly after the republic declared its independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in March 1992 and lasted nearly four years. A cease-fire was called in September 1995. A general framework agreement (the ?Dayton Agreement?) was signed in Dayton, USA on 21 November 1995 and subsequently in Paris, France by the presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. The Dayton Agreement secured the continuation of Bosnia and Herzegovina as a sovereign state within internationally recognized borders. It established a number of important principles designed to stabilize the country and allow the process of reconstruction and reconciliation to begin. Among other things, it recognized that the country was comprised of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which controls 51 per cent of the territory, effectively a Bosnian-Croat federation that is further divided along ethnic lines at the cantonal and municipal levels; and Republika Srpska (the Serbian republic), which controls 49 per cent, and where there is no cantonal administration. The two entities are divided by an Inter-Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), which, on the whole, runs along the cease-fire line. The Dayton Agreement also established a 4-km-wide Zone of Separation (ZoS) between the two entities.
As a result of the fighting, some 250,000 people are dead or missing and 200,000 were injured out of a population that numbered 4.4 million in 1991. In addition, approximately 3 million people have been displaced. One lasting legacy of the war is the problem of landmines. Although armed hostilities between the various factions officially ended in December 1995, mines continue to have severe human, social, medical and economic consequences for the country. The effects of landmines are widespread and have an impact at all levels of society.

[...] The United Nations Mine Action Centre (UNMAC) estimates that there are at present over 30,000 mined areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina littered with some 750,000 mines. In accordance with JNA doctrine, efforts were made by the warring parties, and particularly by their engineering sections, to record minefields on paper. After the conflict, many of these maps were turned over to Implementation Force (IFOR) / Stabilization Force (SFOR). In contrast, the use of mines by local militias, other groups and individuals was less controlled and records were rarely kept in these cases. [...]

[...] But it is difficult to develop reconstruction strategies and programmes, and to ensure their implementation, when the extent to which mines will affect a project is unknown. To facilitate economic recovery, greater research about the effects landmines should be undertaken by the relevant government ministries or other concerned agencies. Conclusion : Landmines are a serious problem, which requires a long-term strategy and involvement of the local authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. A comprehensive mine action plan consists of three components: mine- clearance, mine-awareness and victim-assistance activities. However, the existence of all three components does not necessarily guarantee effective and efficient risk reduction. [...]

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