Mr Mitja Hegler
T: +386 1 479 65 91
The mine/UXO (unexploded ordnance) problem in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Macedonia) has been a legacy of the conflict in 2001 between the Macedonian government forces and ethnic-Albanian insurgents, and the two World Wars. The 2001 conflict affected especially north-western areas bordering Kosovo* and Albania, while areas in the south of the country are contaminated by UXO from World Wars I and II. At the start of ITF activities in 2001, approximately 21 sq. kilometers of land was mine suspected and there was no national mine action capacity available.
With international support, including ITF, Macedonia fulfilled its obligations of Article 5 of Ottawa convention in September 2006 and thus achieved the status of mine-free country, but the problem of UXO, mostly from both World Wars, still remains predominately in southern part totaling around 8.5 sq. kilometers. The UXO contamination does represent an extensive problem, especially when coinciding with natural disasters such as extensive fires, and requires permanent national capacity. There is also severe underwater UXO contamination in Macedonian waters, including Lake Ohrid that is declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
What we do
ITF has been supporting Macedonian Mine Action program since September 2001 when 21 sq. kilometers of land was considered as mine suspected and no national mine action capacities were available. ITF assistance helped train, equip and support Macedonian deminers and altogether close to 4.5 million sq. meters of land were cleared with 22 mines and 762 UXO found and destroyed.
In addition to mine clearance, ITF supported rehabilitation of 7 mine victims in Slovenia and supported enrolment of one student on a Prosthetics and Orthotics study program at the College for Health Studies, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Since 2006, ITF has been supporting Macedonia in tackling the challenging problem of underwater UXO contamination of Lake Ohrid, declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. ITF support enabled establishment of Macedonian clearance capacity which can be deployed when and where needed, including underwater operations. Until today, ITF supported three underwater UXO clearance phases of Lake Ohrid, where 26.400 sq. meters of lake bottom were cleared using underwater metal detectors and additional 30.500 sq. meters using visual method of detection. Altogether over 6,600 UXO weighing more than 19.6 tons were safely removed and destroyed.