Nepal declared free of minefields 

Fri, 16 Sep 2011

KATHMANDU - In June, the last minefield in Nepal was officially destroyed - marking the successful end of nearly four years of demining operations in the country.

Detonating the last of the landmines.
Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal and Army Chief of Staff, General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung detonate the last of the landmines. UNMAT Nepal/Credit: C.S. Karki

This makes the nation only the second in Asia, after China, to reach this milestone. During the official ceremony at Phulchowki in the Kathmandu valley, the Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, and the Army Chief of Staff, General Chhatra Man Singh Gurung, each pressed a switch to detonate the last of 12,070 landmines planted throughout the country during the decade-long armed conflict.

Recognizing Nepal’s milestone, the Prime Minister said that the country had come a long way since 2006 to heal the wounds of armed conflict and build a peaceful and prosperous Nepal.

"I am glad to note that the Nepal Army has successfully completed the task of removing individual landmines," said the Prime Minister. "In this task the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction and the Nepal Army received very good cooperation from the United Nations. This is an important achievement under the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I thank all concerned who were involved, and would like to especially thank the United Nations and its related agencies involved in this important task."

Staff from UN Mine Action Team in Nepal
Staff from UN Mine Action Team in Nepal undertake a review of ordnance before disposal. Photo: UNMAT
Following the detonation, the Senior Technical Advisor of the United Nations Mine Action Team (UNMAT), Richard Derieux, presented the Nepalese Army with a handover certificate confirming that the land has been cleared according to international standards.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the Government of Nepal and the Communist Party of Nepal in 2006 enabled demining operations to begin the following year. The Mine Action in Nepal programme was then launched with the support of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) who together comprise the local Mine Action Team.

All mine clearance in Nepal has been carried out by the Nepalese Army. UNMAT Nepal supports clearance operations by providing technical advice, quality assurance and control as well as comprehensive training to increase the technical and managerial capacity of the army. This approach contributes to both national capacity building and ownership of the clearance work, and will give Nepal the capability to deploy platoons for international UN peacekeeping missions.

With the support of UNMAT, the Nepal Army has cleared over 200,000 square metres of minefields, releasing more than 5,300,000 square metres for the benefit of the local communities. The Government of Nepal worked to establish national standards and created a dedicated Mine Action Section within the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. UNOPS has provided technical support to this mine action programme since its inception. This has included recruiting mine action consultants and trainers, procuring machinery and equipment and administering contracts to support the mine action goals of Nepal’s Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, and the Nepal Army Mine Action Coordination Centre.

According to the Office of the Joint Secretary, Government of Nepal Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction: “The UNOPS-implemented UN Mine Action Team in Nepal have been instrumental in supporting the clearance of more minefields in 2010 than any other year by providing consistent, timely and appropriate support to the Government of Nepal and the mine action community as a whole.”

UNOPS support to the project was named as best in the Portfolio/Contract Management category of the 2010 UNOPS Project of the Year competition. You can find out more about the project in the UNOPS report: Results That Matter.