1,456 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, FAO 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 over 812 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.
- 157 aircraft bombs, with a net explosive quantity in excess of 30 tons, were destroyed, preventing ERW accidents and the harvesting of explosives. Following the conflict of May 2021, a further 16 deep buried bomb (DBB) sites were located and 12 of these sites have been declared safe.
Over 200,000 UN staff, humanitarian workers, internally displaced people (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 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.
Improved Human Security
Since the 2014 conflict and the more recent ones in 2021 and 2022, UNMAS has provided over 15,000 training sessions to enable more than 200,000 UN staff, humanitarian workers, IDPs, engineers, construction workers, and other at-risk populations, including 94,520 children, to identify and safely respond to existing ERW contamination in Gaza. In line with a focus on emergency response, UNMAS continues to deliver conflict preparedness and protection (CPP) with an emphasis on empowering women to ensure their communities have the tools and skills to mitigate the impact of hostilities and bolster their resilience. Within the Protection Cluster, UNMAS leads the Mine Action-Area of Responsibility, coordinating all non-governmental organisations (NGO) and UN entities to ensure beneficiaries receive timely and targeted support.
In times of escalations, UNMAS swiftly launches emergency EORE and CPP campaigns to alert the local community on how to identify and avoid the threats of explosive hazards and adopt proper measures to enhance life protection. During and after the 2021 and 2022 escalations, UNMAS’ messages reached nearly one million Gazans through mass media, including social platforms, radio channels, SMS messages, etc.
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 involving on-site ERW training sessions, quality assurance, risk assessments, and direct EOD support to rubble removal, reconstruction, and infrastructure projects. Following the May 2021 and August 2022 escalations, UNMAS conducted 313 risk assessments for UNDP, UNRWA, UNOPS and other agencies for reconstruction projects, including 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 DBB including the 16 DBB sites identified after May 2021, which have a large amount of explosives and pose a grave danger to the people living nearby.
Since 2021, UNMAS surged additional EOD expertise 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, 304 people have been killed or injured by ERW, over 75% 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.
UNMAS is fully funded at a scaled up capacity through mid-2023 and is seeking sustainable funding beyond that for a small team to provide: emergency EOD in Gaza; EORE and CPP prior, during, and after escalations; and, ERW risk assessments to support infrastructure development projects.
Data as of October 2022