1,425 site-specific risk assessments and continuous on-site explosive remnants of war (ERW) safety training and quality assurance allowed the removal of over 1 million tons of rubble from heavily contaminated areas and the construction of infrastructure to proceed without an ERW accident since 2014, enabling UNDP, UNOPS, and UNRWA’s reconstruction projects to proceed.
ERW risk assessments, quality assurance, and 24/7 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) enabled the safe delivery by partner agencies of 817 reconstruction projects valued at millions of US dollars, including roads, public facilities, public parks, water wells, desalination plants, and other infrastructure, within municipalities across Gaza.
- Following the conflicts of May 2021, August 2022, and May 2023, 21 deep buried bomb (DBB) sites were located and 18 of these sites have been declared safe.
- More than 200 UN and humanitarian partner organizations personnel were trained on the delivery of child-friendly EORE to deliver risk education messages to their projects' beneficiaries.
- Over 250,000 civilians in at-risk communities including internally displaced persons (IDPs), engineers, construction workers, fisherpeople from different age and gender groups, as well as UN staff and humanitarian workers, have been trained by UNMAS to identify and safely respond to ERW contamination in Gaza and West Bank.
- Over 115,000 children living in the at-risk areas in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip received child-friendly explosive ordnance risk education (EORE).
- Approximately one million civilians in the Gaza Strip received EORE messages through the emergency digital EORE campaign implemented during the May 2023 escalation.
- Over 345,000 civilians in the West Bank received EORE messages through the emergency digital EORE campaign implemented immediately after the July 2023 conflict in the refugee camp of Jenin.
UNMAS intervention in Gaza reduces the threat and impact of existing ERW and mitigates the impact of future conflicts on Gaza communities by addressing the following: (i) improved human security by mitigating threat of current and future ERW threats; (ii) support to reconstruction through ERW risk mitigation measures and EOD support; and, (iii) emergency preparedness measures.
In the West Bank, UNMAS provides capacity building to the Palestinian Mine Action Centre (PMAC) to enhance the delivery of EORE to the at-risk communities, improve mine action data management, develop an inclusive victims support strategy, and others. UNMAS does so to enhance the local authorities’ ability to fulfil its obligations under the relevant international treaties.
Improved Human Security
Since the 2014 conflict and the more recent ones in 2021, 2022 and 2023, UNMAS has provided over 16,800 training sessions to enable more than 242,500 UN staff, humanitarian workers, IDPs, engineers, construction workers, and other at-risk populations, including 106,579 children, to identify and safely respond to ERW contamination in Gaza. In line with a focus on emergency response, UNMAS also delivers conflict preparedness and protection (CPP) with an emphasis on empowering women to ensure their communities have the skills to mitigate the impact of hostilities and bolster their resilience. Within the Protection Cluster (PC), UNMAS leads the Mine Action Area of Responsibility, coordinating all non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and UN entities to ensure beneficiaries receive timely and targeted support.
At times of escalations, UNMAS swiftly launches EORE and CPP campaigns to alert the local communities on how to identify and mitigate the threats of explosive hazards and adopt measures to enhance safety and security. During the escalation in May 2023, UNMAS emergency EORE and CPP messages reached approximately one million Gazans through mass media, including social platforms and radio channels. UNMAS also deployed its operations team to provide rapid EOD response as requested by UN and humanitarian organizations.
In the West Bank, UNMAS supports the local authorities to fulfil their obligations under the relevant international treaties. In 2023, UNMAS delivered training to the PMAC to improve the delivery of EORE to the at-risk population. UNMAS also delivered EORE to 8,458 children living in at-risk communities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem through child-friendly modalities including puppet shows, stories and games.
After the July 2023 conflict in Jenin Camp in the West Bank, UNMAS launched an emergency digital EORE campaign targeting the civilian community in the camp and surrounding areas. The EORE messages have reached more than 345,000 people. UNMAS also carried out an explosive threat assessment to conceptualise the necessary mine action intervention in the ERW contaminated areas in the camp.
Support to Reconstruction
As the suspected presence of ERW impedes rubble removal and reconstruction of vital housing and infrastructure, UNMAS delivers an ERW risk mitigation process through on-site ERW training sessions, quality assurance, risk assessments, and direct EOD support to rubble removal, reconstruction, and infrastructure projects. Following the May 2021, August 2022 and May 2023 escalations, UNMAS conducted 317 risk assessments for UNDP, UNOPS, UNRWA and other agencies for reconstruction projects, roads, public facilities, wastewater treatment plants, desalination plants, electricity networks, housing for IDPs, and other infrastructure sites across Gaza. UNMAS continues to provide excavation and clearance of DBB including the 21 DBB sites identified after May 2021, which can contain a large amount of explosives and pose a serious threat to the people living nearby.
In Gaza since 2014, 278 people have been killed or injured by ERW, over 77% 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 accordance with the contingency planning of UN partners This includes having EOD expertise ready to remove and dispose of new and existing contamination which poses a threat to the UN and civilians.
By the beginning of August 2023, UNMAS transitioned to the emergency preparedness stage, downscaling its capacity to a small team in Gaza and the West Bank. UNMAS current capacity is funded until January 2024 and is seeking sustainable funding beyond that to provide: emergency EOD in Gaza; EORE and CPP prior, during, and after escalations; ERW risk assessments to support infrastructure development projects, and maintain the needed support to the national authorities in the West Bank.
Data as of September 2023