Humanitarian Disarmament in Kosovo - The Norwegian People’s Aid

NPA gruppe.jpg

Staff at the Norwegian Embassy joined The Norwegian People’s Aid together with a cluster clearance team (seconded from NPA Humanitarian Disarmament Program Bosnia and Herzegovina) to observe their work in clearance of explosive remnants from the war in 1999.

 Norwegian People’s Aid was established in 1939 as a humanitarian solidarity organization based on fundamental values of unity, solidarity and human worth – equal rights for all, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability and social status. Humanitarian Disarmament is a key area of work for the Norwegian People’s Aid. 

Large areas of Kosovo were contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munition remnants, as a result of the conflict between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and NATO in 1999. After the war, more than 500 casualties were reported due to landmines and explosive remnants. 

 

Norwegian People’s Aid started its operations in Kosovo in 1999. After a stop in operations in 2001, NPA re-engaged in survey and clearance operations in Kosovo in the Autumn of 2014 on the initiative of The Kosovo Mine Action Centre (KMAC) and the Norwegian Embassy. As of 2017 Kosovo remains with 56 known minefields and 52 cluster strikes.

In the Autumn of 2017, the Norwegian People’s Aid aims to launch two teams of Kosovo citizens in clearance of cluster munitions in northern Kosovo.  

Programme Manager Terje Eldøen has previously worked in South Sudan and Somalia before coming to Kosovo in January 2017.

“Personally, it has been special to experience that a country in Europe, where a large part of the society lives under different standards than what I have experienced before, has had a recent war and is in need of help to clean up. There are also similarities. In South Sudan, like in Kosovo, I experienced that foreigners were viewed as allies and given a warm welcome. On the other hand, in contrast to Somalia, being able to move relatively freely here and having traffic accidents as the largest security threat, is something I appreciate.”

When asked about the accomplishments of the Norwegian People’s Aid in Kosovo, he mentions that:

“The most important accomplishment has been engaging Pristina and the Kosovo Serb authorities in mapping out the problem and launching clean-up efforts. This is an area other mine-action actors could not access to earlier. The Norwegian Embassy was an important driving force in launching these efforts, and contributed with the first means.”

Staff at the Norwegian Embassy and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs learning about clearance of explosive remnants from Programme Manager Terje Eldøen together with a cluster clearance team

 

 Demonstration of the process of searching for explosive remnants

Cluster bombs ready for detonation