Boudjour refugee camp, Tindouf, Algeria. Pictures by: Noe Falk Nielsen

DDG has begun mine risk education operations in Algeria

DDG has been accredited to deliver mine risk education in Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Western Algeria. Aiming to avert further accidents causing death or severe mutilation, the activities support the ongoing efforts to teach the Sahrawi about the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war.

Western Sahara is divided by a wall consisting of two parallel sand berms with 5 kilometres of mined buffer zones on each side. The wall was built in the 1980’s and stretches some 2,720 km from the southwest to the northeast with a vast number of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), including cluster bombs, contaminating the buffer zone.

“When heavy rains fall, landmines and ERW are flushed out of the buffer zone to the areas where shepherds, camel herders and nomads travel freely - threatening their lives, limbs and livestock. The area east of the buffer zone is sparsely populated and also contaminated by a number of mine fields, cluster bomb strike areas and scattered ERW,” explains Noe Falk Nielsen, Mine Risk Education Adviser in Danish Demining Group.

The number of victims is difficult to estimate, but within 10 years UNMAS claims some 50 accidents have taken place, affecting 41 victims, including 11 dead.

“By offering mine risk education (MRE) to Sahrawi people who are travelling in the area, DDG is aiming to avert further accidents from occurring,” says Falk Nielsen.

20180507 Mre Checkpoint 6

Since starting operations on 25th of April, DDG has reached a total of 593 Sahrawi people in the process of travelling to or through Western Sahara. DDG has set up an MRE tent at the Rabouni Checkpoint in order to reach Saharawi travellers. While learning about the risks of mines and ERW, travellers are offered a cup of Sahrawi tea. 

The project includes supporting the Ministry of Education and the Sahrawi Mine Action Coordination Office (SMACO) to integrate mine risk education into the Sahrawi school curriculum.