Turkey will clear more than 80,000 land mines on its border with Iran as part of a joint project launched by the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday.
The project to demine an area of 4.2 million square meters (1,037 acres) will start Wednesday, according to Anadolu.
The 18.6 million euro ($21.7 million) project, funded by the EU and carried out by the UNDP and the Turkish Mine Action Center (MAFAM), covers the area near the Turkey-Iran border.
“Integrated border management is an approach that the EU promotes in all its programming, including in the demining of state borders. It stands for a modernized, cost-efficient and – more importantly – humane way of border protection. EU’s support to the removal of land mines also helps Turkey meet its commitments under the Ottawa Convention, to which Turkey is a party since 2004, and which bans the use of antipersonnel land mines,” Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the EU delegation to Turkey, was quoted by the delegation’s website as saying.
A $2.5 million budget was also allocated by the government for the UNDP to support MAFAM in assessing some 3,502 minefields in the region, which would serve as the basis of future demining projects.
Currently, 175 technicians and 16 mine detection dogs are working in four Turkish provinces in the demining operations.
Ratifying the Ottawa Treaty in 2004, Turkey agreed to phase out antipersonnel land mines and establish a humanitarian border surveillance system. The UNDP’s efforts help mark measurable progress toward compliance with the Ottawa Treaty while achieving the goals set by the EU for integrated border management. Turkey is one of 30 countries where the UNDP is working to support demining and national mine action authorities.
Ankara abolished the use of antipersonnel land mines by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) in 2011. A mine clearance agency that is tasked with removing land mines planted in the country’s border regions was established in 2015.
Turkey is one of 10 states with massive antipersonnel mine contamination, which includes over 100 square kilometers of contamination, according to the Landmine Monitor 2020.