226,000 mines destroyed under Türkiye's humanitarian mine clearance

Türkiye  |
Editor : Sanem Topal
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Ministry of National Defense leads successful humanitarian mine clearance operations, clearing vast areas and destroying over 226,000 mines since 2015

226,000 mines destroyed under Türkiye's humanitarian mine clearance

The Ministry of National Defense (MND), coordinated by the National Mine Action Center (MAFAM), has conducted humanitarian mine clearance operations since 2015, clearing approximately 45 million square meters of land and destroying 226,000 mines.

Türkiye, a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel mines and their destruction, demonstrated its commitment to this cause by passing a law in 2015 to establish MAFAM.

Türkiye has accelerated its efforts to clear all buried mines and remove unexploded ordnance, parallel to the United Nations' "Mine-Free World" goal.

Anti-personnel mines in Türkiye were first used along the Syrian border in 1956 to prevent smuggling. They were later laid in the Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia regions between 1993 and 1997 to ensure military areas and border security following terrorist attacks.

Through the clearance of laid mines because of terrorism threats and border security, the safety of the people engaged in agriculture and livestock in the region has been preserved, contributing to increased economic development.

226,000 mines destroyed

MAFAM has been conducting awareness-raising efforts since 2015 to increase awareness of the risks posed by anti-personnel landmines that cause injury or loss of life to citizens living in high-risk mine areas in Türkiye and the surrounding environments.

Under the coordination of the MAFAM Directorate, humanitarian mine clearance operations have cleared approximately 45 million square meters of land and destroyed 226,000 mines from 2015 to the present.

32 OMAT teams within the TSK

Following the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) established Special Mine Search and Clearance (OMAT) Units to carry out humanitarian mine clearance operations in necessary areas.

Currently, humanitarian mine clearance activities are being carried out through OMAT and JOMAT units under the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of the Interior in Igdir, Tunceli, Sirnak, Sanliurfa, Kilis and Hatay.

Under military cooperation agreements with friendly and allied countries, OMAT battalions were first assigned to Azerbaijan on Dec.11, 2020, to provide training support to Azerbaijani troops in Aghdam, Jabrayil, Hadrut and Lachin regions and continue to do so.

Detection and destruction of mines drifting into the Black Sea

Furthermore, mines dropped and detached from mooring equipment during the Russia-Ukraine war pose a threat to maritime traffic in the Black Sea.

Based on daily analyses based on data by the Navigation Hydrography and Oceanography Directorate of the Turkish Naval Forces, routes where drifting mines are likely to follow are determined, and mine surveillance is conducted 24/7.

Once detected, mine destruction activities are carried out by maritime patrol aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, mine-hunting vessels, and patrol ships.

The Turkish Naval Forces have detected and destroyed 5 mines that have drifted into the Black Sea.

24/7 surveillance for security of Istanbul Strait

Since March 2022, Aydin and Engin class mine hunting vessels within the Naval Forces Mine Fleet Command have been conducting mine surveillance in the approach waters of the Istanbul Strait, ensuring the safety of maritime transportation routes with at least two ships in the region.

Mine surveillance activities involve warships, maritime patrol aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters and the "Black Sea Surveillance Coordination Center."

The mine-hunting vessels operating in the Black Sea are equipped with advanced navigation, command control, sonar, and machinery systems, as well as mine clearance divers capable of swiftly and safely destroying detected drifting mines.

Additionally, on Jan.11, 2024, within the framework of the "Triple Initiative" initiated by Türkiye against the mine threat in the Black Sea with Romania and Bulgaria, the "Black Sea Mine Countermeasures Task Group Agreement (MCM Black Sea)" was signed.

Source: Newsroom

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