The Sahrawi Mine Action Coordination Office (SMACO) was created by a Polisario Front presidential decree in 2013. It constitutes the national mine action centre, which is responsible for coordinating humanitarian mine action activities taking place east of the berm in accordance with International and Local Mine Action Standards. The organization participates in the planning, the implementation, the follow-up and the reporting of all mine action activities (including clearance, risk education and victim assistance) conducted by the different NGOs and international contractors operating east of the berm. In addition, SMACO is the national point of contact for the reporting of all mine/ERW related accidents as well as for the collection, coordination and the dissemination of this information for the same movement of persons through Western Sahara east of the berm. The SMACO’s office is located in Rabouni (Algeria), along with other official national organizations as well as local and international NGOs.
Context and Operating Environment
Both sides of the 1,465 km berm dividing the Territory of Western Sahara remain significantly contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a result of the armed conflict from 1975 until 1991 between the Royal Moroccan Army (RMA) and the Polisario Front. Explosive hazards continue to endanger the lives of local nomadic and settled populations as well as the livestock on which they are dependent, UN military personnel monitoring the ceasefire and humanitarian workers. Furthermore, the threat posed by these dangerous explosive hazards hinders the repatriation of Saharan refugees and displaced persons along with the safe pursuit of livelihoods opportunities. Due to the conflict, the Sahrawi population has been living for more than 40 years in five refugee camps around Tindouf, a city located in a harsh isolated desert environment in southwest Algeria. The refugees are not only at risk of extreme poverty, they also face one of the hottest climates in the world, with temperatures surpassing 55 degrees Celsius in the summer. Within this context of deplorable living conditions, over 1,090 survivors of landmine/ERW accidents are particularly at risk.
STRATEGY, MISSION, VISION
The following Strategic Plan draft is based on outcome of the SMACO-UNMAS Strategic Planning Workshop from 2-6 December 2018 at the SMACO offices, Rabouni.
A variety of analytical tools were used by SMACO to formulate a strategy that covers the 5 mine action pillars (clearance, stockpile destruction, risk education, victim assistance and advocacy) and adequately responds to the realities and circumstances under which SMACO operates. These tools supported reviewing of the Mission and Vision and developing strategies to master the challenges ahead the most informed way.
A developed Western Sahara, mines and ERW impact-free, where all people, including those affected by mines/ERW accidents, enjoy a free and safe life.
SMACO, which was founded by presidential decree, plans, coordinates, facilitates and follows up all Mine Action activities in Western Sahara in accordance with National Legislations, Local and International Mine Action Standards, taking into consideration the implications of the refugees and high mines/ERW contamination. SMACO embeds mainstreaming of gender and diversity, humanitarianism and accountability into their operations, with a primary focus.