On 6 January 2019, Geneva Call monitored the destruction of 2,485 stockpiled anti-personnel (AP) mines by the Sahrawi Mine Action Coordination Office (SMACO) in accordance with Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning AP mines, signed by the Polisario Front in 2005. This marks the eighth and final such destruction since the Polisario Front signed the Deed of Commitment, bringing the total number of stockpiled AP mines they have destroyed to date to 20,493. The Polisario Front have now fulfilled all their obligations under the Deed.
“Civilians are often the victims of anti-personnel mines, as this weapon cannot tell the difference between a military target and an innocent civilian. The destruction of over 20,000 mines by the Polisario Front is therefore a decisive victory for humanity” said Catherine Hiltzer, Head of Africa Region at Geneva Call, who was present at the destruction of the mines.
According to the Landmine Monitor, more than 2,500 people have been the victims of AP mines and explosive remnants of war in Western Sahara since 1975. In 2018 alone, 22 new casualties were reported. The Geneva Call Deed of Commitment has acted as a catalyst to encourage armed groups to destroy their stockpiles of mines, thus having a significant and lasting positive humanitarian impact on the civilian population.