The conflict in Syria began in 2011.According to the United Nations’ 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) for Syria, an estimated 11.7 million people (over half the population) are in need of various forms of humanitarian assistance as a result of the ongoing conflict.
The conflict has resulted in the widespread contamination by explosives including landmines, malfunctioned unexploded military ordnance such as aircraft bombs, rockets, missiles, artillery projectiles, mortars, grenades and cluster munitions, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). According to the UN, more than 10 million people are at risk of harm from explosive debris, with close to 2,000 communities reporting contamination and incidents. These communities are spread throughout the country.
The impact of explosive debris on communities can be devastating, causing death or permanent injuries, and the loss of access to properties, community services (including schools and medical facilities) and livelihoods. It also prevents the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance, affects population movement and limits post-conflict recovery and reconstruction.
The scale of the threat in Syria is not yet fully known. The application of humanitarian mine action to reduce the impact of explosive contamination needs to be comprehensive and large-scale.
HALO expects the explosive contamination in Syria to be so large that the work required will be measured in decades, not years. It will require the application of all five pillars of mine action –clearance, risk education, victim assistance, stockpile destruction and advocacy.
In July 2018, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the Government of Syria signed a Memorandum of Understanding enabling UNMAS to establish a permanent representation in Damascus.
HALO has been delivering mine action support in Syria since late 2016, achieved through Syrian NGO partners. HALO has yet to conduct direct implementation of projects in Syria.
HALO’s current projects are limited to northwest Syria, providing Mine Action support to vulnerable communities. The scope of this work includes risk education, collection of contamination impact data (to inform future clearance), and victim assistance.
HALO has made a long-term commitment to reducing the threat posed by ERW in Syria. HALO seeks to continue and expand its current mine action work, enabling people across Syria to return safely to their homes, restoring livelihoods and facilitating access for humanitarian assistance.