Welcome to the United Nations

MINUSMA tackles the threat of improvised explosive devices

Ninety-three peacekeepers have lost their lives to improvised explosive devices (IEDs) since MINUSMA’s deployment to Mali in 2013. IED explosions have further injured 698 civilians and 596 peacekeepers to date. These recurring incidents constitute a stark reminder of the extent of the challenges that the Mission must face in its daily operations in pursuit of peace and security. Mines and IEDs continue to disrupt lives and hamper freedom of movement for all alike in Mali; be it national authorities, civilians, uniformed service personnel or humanitarian organizations.

“These casualties and the injuries sustained by our service personnel demonstrate, if anything, the difficult operating environment in which we work. Nevertheless, the Mission continues to adapt to these complexities in northern and central Mali, in order to carry out the Mandate it was entrusted, a Mandate of accompaniment and support to the people and authorities of Mali, “expressed El-Ghassim WANE, the Head of MINUSMA, following the tragic passing of Captain Sameh ABDELGAWAD of Egypt’s convoy escort company on 17 March 2021.

A concerted response

MINUSMA deploys Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams to address the risks posed by mines and IEDs to civilians, international organizations and peacekeepers. These teams comprised of seasoned professionals, readily perform a multitude of tasks related to explosive ordnance disposal, tailoring their strategy to the specific needs of an operation.

They provide operational support in a variety of ways. More commonly, they travel with convoys and patrols to provide direct counter-IED support and clear the roads during ground operations. EOD teams sweep for mines and IEDs, either by car or on foot. Depending on the combined expertise of the team during an operation, they may also undertake additional tasks, such as IED removals and the detonation of reported or discovered IEDs. The EOD teams are also responsible for destroying hazardous munitions, performing post-blast investigations following an IED incident and clearing areas such as cantonments. To successfully fulfill their mission, they are provided with vehicles, equipment and protective devices as they undertake these dangerous tasks.

MINUSMA’s own EOD teams are from Nepal and Cambodia, and these peacekeepers are entrusted with an important yet taxing role. “Dealing with IEDs can be both physically and mentally exhausting,” shares Lieutenant-Colonel Pawan Kumar KHADKA, Chief of MINUSMA’s Counter-IED Unit. These professionals risk their lives every day to guarantee freedom of movement for all road commuters throughout the country, particularly, in northern and central Mali.