Ms Nataša Uršič
T: +386 1 479 65 71
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia became independent states undergoing to this day the transition for a former socialist system to a market economy. Most of the population is still struggling with severe poverty and high unemployment and vulnerable groups such as disabled, women and children among the most severely affected. Due to diverse languages and ethnic allegiances, peaceful co-existence among the peoples of the region is frequently hampered by distrust and deep-seated prejudices.
Mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) contamination in the Republic of Azerbaijan is the consequence of the 1988–1994 armed conflict with Armenia—which saw landmines laid by both sides—and ammunition abandoned by the Soviet army in 1991. The most heavily contaminated areas are along the borders and confrontation lines between Armenia and Azerbaijan, including area in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. Apart from Nagorno-Karabakh, the adjoining districts of Gubadly, Jabrayil, Kelbajar, Lachin, and Zangilan, and parts of Aghdam, Fizuli, and Tartar are under the control of Armenian forces, and are suspected to contain mines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) (Landmine Monitor 2015).
The precise extent of contamination from antipersonnel mines in Azerbaijan is unknown, as Armenian forces currently occupy a significant area of the country, where considerable contamination exists. As of December 2014, survey and clearance had reduced mined area in areas under Azeri control to 120km2. The extent of contamination in areas occupied by Armenia is unknown, although the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) has suggested that contamination may cover between 350km2 and 830km2.
Other areas are confirmed or suspected to contain ERW, both UXO and abandoned explosive ordnance. Despite ongoing clearance efforts, significant contamination remains in and around warehouses at the former Soviet ammunition storage area in Guzdek village in Garadakh district, close to the capital, Baku. In 1991, 20 warehouses were blown up in Guzdek village resulting in tens of thousands of items of ordnance being scattered over a large area.
What we do
ITF is supporting Azerbaijan Mine Action program since 2002, when the first Administrative Agreement between ITF and Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) was signed.
ITF supported implementation of many projects in Azerbaijan – establishment of national structure for demining activities, providing mine detection dogs (MDDs), establishment of Emergency response group, providing trainings for deminers, rehabilitation of one mine victim at University Rehabilitation Institute of the Republic of Slovenia.
In January 2010, ITF initiated a two and a half year pilot project »Socio-Economic Reintegration Programme for Mine Victims in South Caucasus - Phase I«, supported by Austrian Development Agency. The project successfully built upon the experience gained in the pilot project of socio-economic integration executed in period 2007–2009 and strives to enable mine victims and their families as a vulnerable and marginalized group to earn their livelihoods, to improve their standard of living, and become participatory members of their communities.
Direct assistance has been provided to over 200 mine victims in Azerbaijan who improved their small business skills. 190 business plans were prepared out of which 140 were approved receiving micro-credit supports. 159 direct casualties and their family members were employed in the supported micro/small businesses. A national NGO was included in trainings, and their capacity for provision of micro-credit programmes was enhanced. A national awareness campaign was launched in 2011 including a documentary movie about mine victims.
In May 2013, ITF started with the project »Training of five mine detection dogs for ANAMA« by Mine Detection Dog Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina (MDDC). The goal of the project was training of five MDDs for ANAMA. The training of MDDs was conducted at the MDDC training field in Borci, Konjic, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Upon completion of the training, the MDDs were transferred to ANAMA. The handover of the MDDs to ANAMA trainers was conducted in May 2013, in presence of the representatives of ITF at the MDDC training compound in Konjic, BiH. Donors for the project were Marshall Legacy Institute and Republic of Korea.