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Area of Mined Lands in Azerbaijan Equal to Qatar’s Territory, Ukrainian Journalist Reports

By Gunay Hajiyeva January 26, 2023

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An Azerbaijani mine action specialist working on the liberated lands, October 19, 2021 / AA Photo

A journalist from Ukraine-based “Ukraine Now” news channel traveled this week to Azerbaijan’s territories liberated from Armenian occupation to report about the ongoing mine action.

“The size of the territory, which was contaminated by landmines, can be compared in terms of area with such a country as Qatar. It may take several decades to clean up such an area,” the report reads, adding nearly 300 people were trapped by the explosives after the 2020 Armenia-Azerbaijan war, of which 50 died.

According to the report, currently, about 500 people are working on demining the territories heavily mined by Armenian forces during nearly three decades of occupation.

The Karabakh and East Zangazur regions of Azerbaijan had been heavily mined by Armenia since the early 1990s after Armenia launched a full-blown military assault against Azerbaijan. The war lasted until a ceasefire was reached in 1994 and saw Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally-recognized territories. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed, 3,890 went missing, and one million others were expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing policy conducted by Armenia.

On September 27, 2020, the conflict reignited after Armenia’s forces deployed in occupied Azerbaijani lands shelled military positions and civilian settlements of Azerbaijan. During the counter-attack operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha. The war ended in a tripartite statement signed on November 10, 2020, by Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.

Since the end of hostilities, the Azerbaijani government has been carrying out demining operations to expedite the return of internally displaced people to their homes.

Mine disposal teams of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA), specialists from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Border Services Command, and the Turkish Armed Forces, have been conducting demining operations in the liberated territories. ANAMA deploys cutting-edge Turkish, British, Slovak, and Croatian production machinery to facilitate the process. A minesweeper of local production, known as Revival-P1, is also said to participate in mine action.

According to the latest report by ANAMA, 12,913 mines and 14,950 unexploded ordnances were discovered and neutralized in 2022.

Meanwhile, according to Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry, Armenia has been reprehensibly targeting civilian homes and settlements with explosives and landmines, killing or injuring 282 Azerbaijanis in mine explosions since the end of the 44-day Patriotic War. 

Also, Armenia has been still planting landmines in Azerbaijani territories. According to Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry, Armenia’s armed forces have been continuing to plant landmines and booby traps in civilian homes located in areas they were required to leave under the terms of the tripartite statement of November 10, 2020.