1,456 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 since 2014, and will enable 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 746 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.
- 157 aircraft bombs with an explosive quantity of over 30 tons were neutralized and destroyed, thus preventing ERW accidents and the harvesting of explosives to make homemade rockets. Following the latest conflict in May 2021, a further 16 bombs have been located; among those, 8 deep buried bombs (DBB) sites has been declared safe.
Over 177,000 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 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 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 has provided over 12,700 training sessions in Gaza to enable more than 177,000 UN staff, humanitarian workers, IDPs, engineers, construction workers, and other at-risk populations, including 86,398 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 conflict preparedness and protection (CPP) which focuses on protection and conflict preparedness with an emphasis on empowering women to ensure their communities have the tools and skill sets 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 response to the latest escalation of hostilities in May 2021, UNMAS launched a targeted explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) campaign, with safety text messages being sent to 550,000 people in Gaza and thousands more reached through the social media of local family centres, news organisations, and community-based organisations. Directly after the escalation, ERW safety messages were broadcast on local radio channels across Gaza with a potential reach of 1.4 million people. In addition, UNMAS targeted the designated emergency shelters providing safety messages for the IDPs returning to their homes and distributing ERW awareness posters to 83 the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (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 implemented safely and without delay. The process involves the provision of on-site ERW training sessions, quality assurance, risk assessments, and direct explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) support to partners’ rubble removal, reconstruction, and infrastructure projects. In 2021, UNMAS was an integral component in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Rubble Removal project, conducting 291 risk assessments as requested. UNMAS intervention enabled the safe delivery of more than 341 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. In 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, 334 people have been killed or injured by ERW, 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 concert 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 conflict preparedness and protection (CPP) prior, during, and after escalations; and, ERW risk assessments to support infrastructure development projects.
Data as of March 2022