clearance fact sheet
Mine clearance is the process of removing mines
from the field. There are two types of mine clearance—humanitarian
and military. There are also many steps involved in process and different
ways to clear the mines—by hand, using dogs, and machines.
In this fact sheet:
What Is Mine Clearance
What Are Deminers?
How Do Deminers Know Where to Find Landmines?
What Are the Steps In Mine Clearance?
What Are the Methods Of Mine Clearance?
Does the United Nations Clear Mines?
IS MINE CLEARANCE?
Top: A sign warns of the presence
of mines in Kosovo. Mine signs around the world warn people
away from contaminated areas.
Bottom: Mine clearance operation using a mechanical clearance
||Humanitarian mine clearance
is done by mine action workers or local governments. This process
is also called demining and is done by deminers.
Humanitarian mine clearance removes landmines so people can
carry on with lives without stepping on a mine. Then residents
can safely do things like going to the market, collect firewood
and water, farm and travel to the hospital. Or, they can finally
return home, if the mines have kept them away. Humanitarian
mine clearance must be very thorough, not leaving any mines
Military mine clearance is done
by soldiers, during times of war and armed conflicts.
Militaries clear mines so their troops can pass through mines
areas. In those instances, their objective is not to clear or
mark all dangerous areas.
Before mines can be cleared, there
are a number of steps
to be done. These include surveying, mapping, and marking the
There are a number of methods
used to clear the mines. Clearance
is done by hand, with help from dogs, and using machines.
WHAT ARE DEMINERS?
||People who clear landmines
are called deminers or as some say, “sappers.”
Many deminers are former soldiers that come from mined areas
around the world. When wars end and the soldiers are not needed
anymore, some of them join mine clearance organizations and
are trained in humanitarian mine clearance.
Deminers do very difficult and
dangerous work. Even though this
work is dangerous, many women and men become deminers because
they want to contribute to peace and development in their country.
With good training they can clear mines and make their countries
safer for their fellow citizens.
HOW DO DEMINERS KNOW WHERE TO FIND LANDMINES?
Instructor giving ground briefing
to deminers in the morning before operations start in Kosovo.
||Many times people do not
know where mines are located, or warning signs have not been
posted. Sometimes mine tape, crossed
sticks, painted rocks and other symbols mark off minefields.
Landmine survey teams travel around searching for such markings
and talk to the local communities and sometimes even the military
to find out where the mines are located.
They use maps if they are available,
records of where mine explosions occurred, and details about
where fighting took place. Too
often, minefields are not mapped at all. Sometimes maps exist
but are then lost or become obsolete when, for example, mines
shift in the ground during heavy rains and become difficult
WHAT ARE THE STEPS IN MINE CLEARANCE?
This is a demining site in Kosovo,
the sticks with red signs indicate the exact location of the
||Surveying the area.
This is required before actual clearance can begin. Surveying
involves researching and collecting information about the locations
of mines in a particular area. To gather this information, records
are reviewed (where they exist), and interviews are conducted
with victims, local residents, and former soldiers.
Before maps can be drawn technical surveys must be completed. Maps of the mines
are then drawn to help deminers locate landmines and mark them
Marking the Minefields. Marking is carried
out when a mined area is identified, but clearance operations cannot
take place immediately. Specially trained people locate and mark the
outer boundaries or limits of a mined area. This is done so people
won’t accidentally enter the minefield, and to prepare the area
so deminers know where to work. Often people think a whole road or
field is mined and will not use the land. But once deminers take a
close look and mark the minefields, they can determine if some areas
are safe. They mark off only the unsafe areas, and then people can
use some of the “safe” land again.
WHAT ARE THE METHODS OF MINE CLEARANCE?
A deminer and a deming dog in Mozambique.
relies on trained deminers using metal detectors and long thin
prodders to locate the mines, which are then destroyed by controlled
explosions once they are located.
Mine detection dogs
detect the presence of explosives in the ground by smell.
uses machinery, including vegetation cutters and excavators,
which is often attached to bulldozers. These machines can only
be used when the ground is suitable, and are expensive to operate.
In most situations they are also not 100% reliable, and the
work needs to be checked.
Advances in technology have been made in recent years, both
in mine detection systems and in mechanical means for destroying
mines. However, most of the time, manual clearance remains the
preferred method, because it costs less and is more reliable.
DOES THE UNITED NATIONS CLEAR MINES?
The UN organizations involved in mine
action do not carry out mine clearance directly.
In most countries they advise and assist the national authorities,
or a UN peacekeeping mission to carry out mine clearance.
The UN typically establishes a Mine
Action Authority or Coordination Centre responsible for overseeing
clearance activities. The actual clearance
operations may then be carried out by national civilian agencies,
military units that agree to take part in humanitarian operations,
national or international NGOs or commercial companies.