Croatia failed to meet its landmine removal target in 2019, state agency Hina reported on Thursday citing a parliament report.
Without specifying how much did the mine clearing effort fall short of the target, the “lower number of mine clearance specialists” and the “impossibility to use de-mining machines in some mine-suspected areas” were cited by Hina as reasons mentioned in a Parliament discussion on Wednesday.
On Wednesday evening Croatian lawmakers discussed the results of the 2019 plan and were informed that the country had “about 20 fewer deminers” that year due to the retirement of some of them in late 2018. Hina did not specify how many it normally has.
MP Franko Vidovic of the opposition Social Democrats (SDP) said that the size of the total remaining mine-suspected area is about 300 square kilometres. According to the official plan which involves clearing some 50 square kilometres per year, the goal of removing all landmines leftover from the 1991-95 war should be reached by 2026.
Land is contaminated with thousands of mines and a significant amount of leftover military ordnance, especially in areas of intense combat during the 1991-95 war. Forests and forested areas account for 98 percent of mine-suspected areas.
Interior Ministry official Zarko Katic said that 8 out of Croatia’s 21 counties still had mine-suspected areas in their territory, and that Zadar County is planned to become officially free of landmines by the end of 2021.
Since the end of the war, 597 people have been injured in mine-related incidents, including 203 fatalities. This includes 38 mine clearance experts killed in mine disposal incidents since 1996.