1,168 site-specific risk assessments and continuous on-site explosive remnants of war (ERW) safety training and quality assurance allowed the removal of 1 million tons of rubble from heavily contaminated areas and the construction of infrastructure to proceed without a single ERW accident in 2014, and will allow the new UNDP Rubble Removal project to proceed.
ERW risk assessments, quality assurance and 24/7 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) enabled the safe delivery by partner agencies of more than 206 reconstruction projects valued at millions of US dollars of roads, public facilities, public parks, water wells, desalination plants and other infrastructure in municipalities across Gaza.
Since 2014, EOD callouts have led to the recovery and destruction of 8,786 ERW from UN premises, reconstruction sites and civilian structures under UNMAS supervision.
- 151 aircraft bombs with an explosive quantity of over 29 tons were neutralized and destroyed, thus preventing ERW accidents and the harvesting of explosives to make homemade rockets. Following the latest conflict, a further 16 bombs have been located. UNMAS will begin excavation to mitigate the threat of these dangerous bombs.
162,000+ UN staff, humanitarian workers, IDPs, engineers, construction workers and other at-risk populations have been trained by UNMAS to identify and safely respond to ERW contamination.
UNMAS intervention in Gaza reduces the threat and impact of existing explosive remnants of war (ERW) and mitigates the impact of future conflicts on Gaza communities by addressing the following: (i) improved human security by mitigating the threat of current and future ERW threats; (ii) support to reconstruction through ERW risk mitigation measures and EOD support; and (iii) emergency preparedness measures.
Improved Human Security
Following the 2014 conflict, and the more recent conflict in 2021 , UNMAS provided over 10,041 training sessions in Gaza to enable 162,789 UN staff, humanitarian workers, IDPs, engineers, construction workers and other at-risk populations - including 81,620 children - to identify and safely respond to existing ERW contamination in Gaza. In line with a focus on emergency preparedness, UNMAS continues to work on specific risk education focused on protection and conflict preparedness with a focus of empowering women in the community to ensure that the communities have the tools and skill sets to deal with on-going hostilities and learn resilience. Within the Protection Cluster, UNMAS leads the ERW/Mine Action sub-cluster, coordinating all NGOs and UN entities to ensure beneficiaries receive timely and targeted support.
In response to the latest escalation in May, UNMAS launched a targeted Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) campaign, with safety text messages being sent to 500,000 people in Gaza and thousands more reached through social media of local family centres, news organizations and community-based organizations. Directly after the escalation, ERW safety messages were shared through local radio channels in Gaza with a potential reach of 1.4 million people. In addition, UNMAS targeted the designated emergency shelters with safety messages for the IDPs returning to their homes and distributed ERW awareness posters to 83 UNRWA Health and Distribution centres.
Support to Reconstruction
As suspected presence of ERW impedes the clean-up and reconstruction of vital housing and infrastructure, UNMAS delivers an ERW risk mitigation process - a systematic and investigative process that involves identifying explosive hazards, predicting possible incidents, and determining the impact of hazards and mitigation measures that can be implemented or planned - to ensure that reconstruction and rubble removal are taking place safely and without delay. The process involves the provision of on-site ERW training sessions, quality assurance, risk assessments and direct EOD support to partners’ rubble removal, reconstruction and infrastructure projects. In 2021, UNMAS is an integral component in UNDP’s Rubble Removal project, with 150 requests for risk assessments received. UNMAS intervention enabled the safe delivery of more than 240 reconstruction projects for roads, public facilities, wastewater treatment plants, desalination plants, electricity networks, housing for IDPs and other infrastructure across Gaza. UNMAS continues to provide excavation and clearance of Deep Buried Bombs (DBB) in Gaza, and most recently there have been 16 new DBB sites identified, 3 of which are in schools. For the remainder of 2021 and into 2022, UNMAS will continue to work to remove these DBB which have a large amount of explosive and pose a grave danger to the people living nearby.
In 2021, UNMAS surged additional EOD and bomb clearance teams to Gaza to remove and destroy new and existing contamination which poses a threat to the UN and Gaza communities. Since the end of the 2014 conflict, 276 people have been killed or injured by ERW, 80% of whom were men and boys. The UNMAS strategy in Gaza is to be ready for a rapid response during potential conflict, and to maintain emergency preparedness measures that are in concert with the contingency planning of UN partners.
UNMAS is fully funded at a scaled-up capacity until the end of 2021 and is seeking USD 4 million to cover costs of the programme for 2022 and beyond.
Data as of August 2021