Mine Ban Policy

Algeria signed the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1997 but has not ratified it yet. Algeria did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels declaration in June 1997 and attended the Oslo negotiations in September initially as an observer. In Oslo, however, Algeria announced it had changed its position and would sign the ban treaty in December. Algeria voted "Yes" on the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution supporting negotiations of a total ban on antipersonnel mines as soon as possible and voted "Yes" on the 1997 UNGA Resolution inviting all states to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. It also voted in favor of the 1998 UNGA Resolution urging ratification and universalization of the treaty. It is a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons, but it hasn't ratified the amended Protocol II on landmines (1996).

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Algeria does not produce antipersonnel mines and is not known to have exported landmines to other countries. Algeria has reportedly imported mines and explosives from Italy, France, Yugoslavia, Great Britain and China.(81) Algeria has a stockpile of mines, although the numbers and composition are unclear.

Some new mines have been laid due to Algeria's security problems of the 1990s. Reports suggest that GIA (groupe islamiste arme) has used mines to counter pursuit by the Algerian national army. Minefields have been found in the regions where GIA operates and according the Algerian newspaper L'Authentique, at least 1,500 mines needed to be removed in the regions of Ouled Allel.(82) The train between Algiers and Oran, a popular tourist route, has been attacked at least twenty-five times, often with landmines, and is nicknamed "the train of death."(83)

Landmine Problem

Algeria has a slight landmine problem. German and Italian troops laid minefields in the Northern Coastal areas during World War II and French troops laid mines near the Tunisian and Moroccan borders until 1962.(84) According to the Civilian Victims of the War of Liberation Association, France left "two million pieces of landmines in Algeria," planting landmines along the famous electrified line of "Challe et Morice"' at a rate of one landmine per meter.(85) While many mines have been removed, according to the government, today there are about 1.3 million mines in place, including 913,000 in the Eastern frontier, 409,000 in Djebel et Kssour, and 4,200 in the Western frontier.(86)

Mine Action

At the end of the Algerian war for independence, the Army undertook a significant effort to demine the regions infested by mines. Mine removal programs are still the responsibility of the Army. The Army has received maps from France showing the mined zones. The mined zones are often uninhabited desert places or mountainous areas that are difficult to access.

The International Committee of the Red Cross has distributed information kits on landmines to authorities in the North Africa region, although no specifics regarding Algeria are known.(87)

Landmine Casualties

It is unclear how many civilians have been killed or wounded by landmines. According to the Algerian newspaper El Acil, there have been more than 3,000 victims of mines since the independence.(88) According to other sources, 40,000 people have been killed and 80,000 people wounded as a result of the landmines placed along the 2,000 kilometer "Challe et Morice" line.(89) A recent landmine victim was a farmer who lost his legs as he tried to plow his land in September 1998, at Hoauch Benidja in the region of Sidi Moussa.(90) In 1974, a law was implemented by Algerian National Assembly to give financial assistance to landmine survivors.(91)


Mine Ban Policy

Tunisia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. Ratification legislation, Law No. 98-78, was passed on 27 October 1998, and published in the official journal of Tunis on 2 November 1998,(92) but Tunisia has, for unknown reasons, not yet officially deposited its instrument of ratification with the United Nations. It is unclear if Law No. 98-78 will also serve as implementation legislation.

Tunisia attended the treaty preparatory meetings and the Oslo negotiations, but only as an observer in each case, and did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. Thus, many did not expect Tunisia to sign the treaty. However, Tunisia had voted for the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution calling on states to pursue vigorously an international agreement banning antipersonnel mines, and signaled a shift in its policy when it also voted for the 1997 UNGA resolution supporting the December treaty signing. Subsequently Tunisia voted for the 1998 UNGA resolution welcoming new signatories to the treaty and urging its full implementation.

Tunisia is a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines, but it has not ratified the amended Protocol II (1996).

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Tunisia does not produce antipersonnel mines and is not known to have exported AP mines. Tunisia has reportedly imported landmines from Italy, France, Yugoslavia, and Great Britain.(93) The U.S. shipped 250 M12 antitank mines to Tunisia in 1970; it has made no shipments of antipersonnel mines.(94) Tunisia is thought to have a large stock of mines at its disposal, but details are not available. Following the Inter-Maghreb Seminar on Anti-Personnel Landmines conference in Tunis on 25-26 January 1999, the Tunisian Defense Ministry announced that it would begin destroying its stocks of mines, but it has yet to take any steps toward doing so.

There is no evidence that Tunisia has used antipersonnel mines in recent years in its ongoing conflict with Libya.

Landmine Problem

Tunisia has yet to conduct a comprehensive assessment of its landmine problem. Nonetheless the regions of Tunisia which are known to be infested with mines include areas near Kasserine, Sbitla, Sidi Bouzid and Marit in west central Tunisia. In northern Tunisia, the regions of Majz el Baz and Bount de Fez are also affected by mines.(95) Most of the mine were laid during World War II, though some have been planted more recently as well. Mines have included those of British, French and US origin. Most of the mined areas in Tunisia are barren, uninhabited places.

Mine Action

The Tunisian army claims to remove between 200 and 300 land mines annually.(96) In most cases, the military is alerted to the existence of mined areas by people living among them following landmine accidents. To date, however, no comprehensive assessment of either the extent of Tunisia's landmine problems or the number of casualties that have occurred from mines has taken place. The Tunisian army has begun marking zones likely to contain mines buried in the ground where incidents have occurred. The army is also developing an educational program which is expected to focus on the landmine problem in northern Tunisia. The Arab Institute For Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization based in Tunis, has plans to begin training instructors for a program to educate the country's civilian population.(97)

80. Landmine Monitor Interview 24 January 1999, with Mr. Yahiya Al Moshiki, Chairman of the War Victim Society.

81. Osservatorio sul commercio delle arme report, Italy.

82. Journal l'Authentique, 6 September 1998.

83. John Burns, "Algeria Back from the Brink," The Observer, 14 March 1999.

84. U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, 1993, p. 44.

85. "Landmines: A Problem for Algeria as Well," Reuters, 24 December 1997.

86. Le Reseau D Echanges Multidisciplinaire Pour L'Environment et le Developpement, Algerie, Conference Regionale Sur les Dangers des Mines Terrestres dans les Pays Arabes, 11-12 February 1999.

87. International Committee of the Red Cross, Annual Report 1996: Tunis, Regional Delegation (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco/Western Sahara, Tunisia), 1 June 1997.

88. El Acil, 6 September 1998.

89. "Landmines: A Problem for Algeria as Well," IPR Strategic Business Information Database, 24 December 1997.

90. El Acil, 6 September 1998.

91. Le Reseau D Echanges Multidisciplinaire Pour L'Environment et le Developpement, Algerie, Conference Regionale Sur les Dangers des Mines Terrestres dans les Pays Arabes, 11-12 February 1999.

92. Journal officiel de la république tunisienne, 2 de Novembre 1998.

93. Osservatorio sul commercio delle arme, IRES, Toscana, 12 March 1997.

94. U.S. Army Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command data, analyzed by Human Rights Watch Arms Division.

95. UN Database, Country Report: Tunisia, at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/tunisia.

96. UN, Country Report: Tunisia..

97. Tunis Declaration, adopted at " Inter-Maghreb Seminar on Anti-Personnel Landmines," Tunis, Tunisia 25-26 January 1999.

98. UN General Assembly First Committee, Press Release GA/DIS/3116, 20 October 1998.

99. Egypt Statement to the Brussels Conference in Handicap International and International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Conference Report: Brussels International Conference for the Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines, 24-27 June 1997, p. 28.

100. Ibid; Mohammad Monieb, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and Disarmament, Egypt, Letter to Mohammad Monieb, Secretary-General, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, 28 December 1998, reprinted in "Cairo Explains Landmines Policy," African Topics, Issue 22, January-March 1998, p. 16.