The Development Initiative

Clearing the way for Business and People

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Turkey MDD

Clearing the Eastern Border of Turkey

Following the completion of Phases I and II, TDI is now engaged on Phase III of the Eastern Border Mine Clearance project which extends from Ardahan to Ağrı (Doğubayazıt) along the border with Armenia and Iran, a distance of almost 170km, and includes 96 minefields containing over 80,000 landmines. The project continues to be funded by the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey and will be managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Turkey.

Turkey became a member of the Ottawa Treaty in March 2004 and agreed to clear the landmines that were once used to curtail illegal smuggling and cross-border movement, and replace them with a new, modernised border management system. The project employs 300 people, both Turkish and internationals, many of whom are directly engaged in the clearance of the minefields, and the remainder providing the support necessary to maintain operations. This project provides a significant boost to the local economies in the areas in which the teams are working, through the employment of local people and purchasing supplies and services from local companies.

Turkey Team
The teams are working in valleys around Mount Ararat, a snow-capped and dormant volcano consisting of two volcanic cones, Greater Ararat and Little Ararat. Greater Ararat is the highest peak in Turkey. The mountain has been called by the name Ararat since the Middle Ages and many historians and scholars believe that it was the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. Many of the minefields are at a high altitude, sometimes over 3,000m above sea level, and clearance activities are often impacted by wind, rain and snow which can hinder access to the minefields and delay operations. In addition to the climatic challenges, there have been a number of other challenges such as tents being destroyed by bears and shepherds and their sheep wandering through the marked minefields!
Mount Ararat
Camp covered in Snow
Throughout Phase I and II, over 45,000 landmines were found and destroyed, which not only paved the way for the new border management system but also released land for industry, raising livestock and agriculture, the main occupations in the areas surrounding Mount Ararat.
TDI Team Members
The teams worked through much of 2021 and, following a winter stand down, they have recently resumed clearance operations. They deploy to the minefields six days a week, weather permitting, to clear the remaining minefields as quickly and safely as possible before the winter returns at the end of the year.