UNMAS Syria Response Programme (SRP) UNMAS SRP aims to ensure that the “Syrian population benefits from safe access to basic services and livelihood opportunities,” by enabling “humanitarian and early recovery partners to deliver free from the risk of EO contamination”. Under this vision, UNMAS SRP will operate as an enabler of the humanitarian and early recovery response in the country.
During 2023, UNMAS delivered the following key areas of impact:
During 2023, 99 risk education facilitators were trained to deliver explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) sessions to communities. In addition, 62 humanitarian focal points were trained to deliver explosive ordnance (EO) awareness messages to their colleagues, and 129 humanitarian workers received EO risk awareness to enhance their safety in the field.
Some 140 rubble removal workers, contracted by UNDP, received EO safety briefing in Aleppo. Furthermore, UNMAS distributed 76,000 EORE materials to partners (UN, INGOs, NGOs) in 11 Governorates (Damascus, Rural Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Daraa, As-Suwayda, Ar-Raqqa, Lattakia, Idlib and Al-Hassakah) to mainstream EORE in their activities. Moreover, 42,000 beneficiaries were reached directly through the EORE sessions in Rural Damascus.
Under its Pilot Clearance Project in Darayya, Rural Damascus, UNMAS cleared and released 315,052 sqm of land, identifying 70 UXOs. In July, UNMAS SRP deployed mobile Multitasking Teams (MTT) to operate in Rural Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia governorates. The teams are capable of conducting non-technical and technical survey and clearance, as well as providing EOD capacity in support of UN, NGO and INGOs humanitarian and early recovery projects.
Since its launch, the teams have surveyed 873,390 sqm in Aleppo. In Rural Damascus, they surveyed 23 million sqm, implemented 785 spot tasks and identified 677 UXOs, out of which 387 were destroyed.
UNMAS SRP collects data on victims of explosive ordnance incidents, and has provided victim assistance (VA) services to 14,135 people in need, out of whom 1,342 were EO incident survivors. The delivered services included 557 medical and prosthetics services, 777 socio-economic insertion support, and 1,972 cash assistance services to improve access to services and reduce vulnerabilities by addressing the economic/social barriers for persons with disabilities, including survivors of EO accidents. A pilot inclusive initiative was implemented by recruiting and training six EO incident survivors to deliver EORE sessions to the community, as part of the joint RE/VA project in Rural Damascus.
On coordination, UNMAS maintained leadership of the VA working group, including updating the VA service mapping, activating and expanding the VA referral system and sharing recent VA standards and guidance.
Under its role as the de facto Mine Action Center (MAC) in the country, UNMAS continued to provide technical and operational support to the HMA actors and the wider humanitarian and early recovery community; including coordinating the MA Area of Responsibility, structured MA data and analysis dissemination, training, quality assurance and accreditation to MA operators in the country.
Mine action is a critical humanitarian need in Syria. The scale, severity, and complexity of the EO threat in the country remains a major protection concern, compounding the humanitarian crisis and the vulnerability of civilians in affected areas. UNMAS estimates that since 2013, an average of six people per day have been killed or injured by explosive ordnance.
According to the 2024 Humanitarian Needs Overview draft, 14.4 million men, women, and children are at risk from EO contamination. Approximately one third of communities are estimated to be potentially contaminated. The destruction and contamination of residential areas and critical infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools and roads, hinders civilian access to basic services and the safe return of displaced persons. Explosive ordnance is a lethal barrier to movement and the delivery of humanitarian aid, and
endangers those seeking refuge from violence. In July 2018, UNMAS signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Syrian Arab Republic. With its deployment in October 2018, UNMAS SRP started advocating for the expansion of humanitarian mine action activities across the country, and prioritising the communities most in need.
UNMAS aims to enable humanitarian and early recovery partners to deliver free from the risk of EO contamination. As a result , affected civilians will benefit from safe access to basic services and livelihood opportunities. In the absence of a national MAC, UNMAS SRP acts as one, providing technical and operational support to the humanitarian mine action actors, including through quality assurance and accreditation. UNMAS SRP leads and coordinates the MA Area of Responsibility as well, ensuring the integration of MA needs into the UN strategic plans and advocacy documents, and disseminating relevant data and analysis. In line with the Humanitarian Response Plan, UNMAS provides financial and technical support for survey, risk education and victim assistance activities and projects.
Coordination and Quality Management
As the lead agency and coordinator for the MA Area of Responsibility within the Global Cluster system, UNMAS ensures that MA is integrated within the humanitarian coordination mechanisms, and that the EO threat is understood and taken into consideration in UN strategic planning. Central to its coordination functions, UNMAS established and manages the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) for Syria. The data is collated in IMSMA to generate custom-made information products and analysis to enable needs-based prioritisation and decision-making for the MA partners and the wider humanitarian response. Since establishment, UNMAS SRP has been the de facto MAC in the country, providing accreditation and quality assurance to MA actors.
Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE)
Risk education is a life-saving component of the humanitarian and early recovery response, as it helps communities and humanitarian and early recovery actors adapt their behaviour to minimise explosive ordnance risks to their safety. Through direct sessions, UNMAS provides people in contaminated areas with life-saving information to reduce the likelihood of incidents. UNMAS trains risk education facilitators and develops risk education materials and messages that are tailored to age, gender, profession, social responsibility and localised threats. To maximise reach, a risk education mobile phone application and online training platform will be launched soon.
Survey, Marking and Clearance
Thanks to UNMAS advocacy efforts, survey, marking and clearance of EO are identified as priorities in the 2022-23 Humanitarian Response Plan. Survey and clearance are the only way to define the extent of contamination, identify, mark and fully remove the EO threat. The non-technical survey (NTS) includes desk assessments, analysis of historical records, and community liaison to collect and verify information about contamination, as a precursor to technical survey and clearance. Through technical surveys (TS), UNMAS physically confirms the absence/presence of EO, marks and records the areas where contamination is found. Clearance is the only way to fully remove the EO threat, as it ensures its removal and/or destruction in a specified area, and releases the land safely back to the community.
To ensure sustainability of VA interventions and that no one is left behind, UNMAS connects between the relevant national institutions and humanitarian actors to map VA services for persons with disabilities, establish specialised referral pathways, and promote VA and disability concepts and standards. In 2020, UNMAS developed a VA framework as a foundation to initiate VA in Syria; including: 1) collection and analysis of data on EO incidents and victims, 2) analysis and release of reports and factsheets, 3) establishment of a referral system in coordination with the health, protection and other sectors, and 4) establishment of the Victim Assistance Working Group.
The UNMAS Syria Response Programme currently seeks 26 million USD in 2024 to fulfil its role as de-facto MAC and coordinator and to deliver EORE, survey and clearance and VA activities. Notably including through the deployment of integrated and multitasking teams in each of the UN Hubs, of Damascus, As-Sweida, Aleppo, Homs, Tartous, Al-Qamishli and Deir Ez-Zzor, working to enable humanitarian and early recovery actors. Sustained funding is critical to maintain UNMAS SRP's operational capabilities that reduce the impact of EO on civilians throughout Syria, as well as to ensure continued coordination, advocacy, oversight, quality assurance and accreditation of mine action operations in Syria.
Data as of January 2024