A landmine is an explosive weapon in the shape of a closed box with explosives that are activated by accidental foot pressure, touch, or hit. They are cheap, relatively efficient and usually used as a defensive weapon. A “mine” is called “mina” in Croatian.
Landmines were used during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995) by all warring parties. They were often placed in forests, fields, and other locations to protect settlements and military formations. They didn’t play a significant role in the war but have caused issues ever since.
After the end of the Croatian War of Independence, Croatia faced a problem with remaining landmines that weren’t collected from the Croatian territory during and right after the war. De-mining is a time-consuming and expensive process that is still going on in Croatia.
Since the war, great progress has been made in collecting the remaining weapons and landmines from Croatian territory. Thankfully, most areas are free of landmines. However, some Croatian regions are still waiting to be checked and cleared.
Nevertheless, Croatia is a safe country with regards to infrastructure, transport, tourism destinations, and other public locations and facilities.
In this post, we cover:
- Current state of landmines in Croatia
- Who is in charge of de-mining
- Mine warning signs
- Suspected items that can be found on the field
- Statistics on mine victims in Croatia
The facts are these…
Although Croatia is a safe place to live, the existence of landmines does have an impact on the security of the population. It is still necessary to avoid certain contaminated areas to prevent serious accidents or death.
The landmine suspected area (minski sumnjivo područje – MSP) currently covers 222 square kilometers of the territory of the Republic of Croatia. This area is contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Mine-suspected areas cannot be used in any way, from construction and renting to agricultural purposes. The impossibility of using mine-suspected areas affects the use of the land, but also the development of Croatian society as a whole.
In 2021, landmine suspected areas are made up of:
- Forests – 98,6%
- Agricultural land – 1,1%
- Other surfaces – 0,3%
These suspected areas are located in 8 Croatian counties including 43 cities and municipalities. Below are the statistics for landmine suspected areas by Croatian counties recorded on January 1, 2021:
- Karlovac county – 42,3 km2
- Lika-Senj county – 93,9 km2
- Osijek-Baranja county – 17,6 km2
- Požega-Slavonia county – 12,6 km2
- Sisak-Moslavina county – 42,2 km2
- Split-Dalmatia county – 19,2 km2
- Šibenik-Knin county – 12,6 km2
- Zadar county – 9,0 km2
It is estimated that these areas are contaminated with approximately 15.255 landmines and unexploded ordnance. Most of them are located in areas of intense combat operations that were performed during the Croatian War of Independence. According to the data of the Croatian Mine Action Center from 2014, there were approximately 60.000 mines in Croatia.
High-risk areas of mines and unexploded ordnance in Croatia can be viewed on a map provided by MIS Portal Hrvatskog centra za razminiranje (Portal of the Croatian Mine Action Center – CROMAC). This map is available here.
The process of de-mining is called “razminiranje” and it includes:
- Search for mines
- Marking areas
- Disabling and destroying mines and their parts
People who work on de-mining are called “pirotehničari” (de-miners).
In Croatia, the following state institutions are responsible for de-mining:
- Ministarstvo obrane (Ministry of Defense) for promising military locations and buildings – Promising military locations and buildings are properties managed by the Ministry of Defense and special military buildings of specific purposes.
- Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova (Ministry of Internal Affairs aka MUP) for unpromising military locations and buildings – Unpromising military locations and buildings are properties that are no longer used for military purposes transferred to the body responsible for the disposal and management of state property.
Every year, the Croatian government adopts an annual Mine Action Plan. MUP prepares conceptual de-mining plans and implementation plans of technical survey for a one-year period. These plans are then used in the de-mining process of specific areas. [Read: All the Croatian government ministries and what they do]
Request for insight into the state of mines
If for some reason you would like more information about the state of mines, you can request official data from Croatian MUP. You must fill out “Zahtjev za uvid u miniranost” (Request for insight into mines) and deliver it to MUP. This request is available here. [Read: How to find administrative police stations in Croatia]
You will have to describe the purpose of the request and deliver data on the cadastral parcel and cadastral municipality.
A request can be sent to MUP by:
- Mail to: Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova, Ravnateljstvo civilne zaštite, Nehajska 5, 10 000 Zagreb; phone: +385 (0)1 3788 599
- Email to: [email protected]
Contaminated areas are marked with warning boards that warn of the mine risk. There are more than 8.430 such boards in these areas.
Mined areas can include:
- Former battlefields, checkpoints, trenches, and bunkers
- Abandoned or destroyed buildings and houses
- Marked mined areas
- Storage facilities, military buildings, and facilities
- Neglected plumbing and electrical installations
- Neglected railways and bridge piers
- Places with remains of carcasses and skeletons of animals
- Abandoned vehicles
- Overgrown areas, paths, roads, forests, and orchards
- Overgrown edges of roads, ditches, canals, embankments, and rivers
If you ever notice a warning sign, don’t continue. The safest thing to do is to go back and avoid the dangerous area. Croatia’s nature has a lot to offer at every single step so you won’t miss a thing. Keep safe.
Warning signs usually include the text “Mine! NE PRILAZITE, na ovom području je velika opasnost od mina” which translates as “Mines! DO NOT APPROACH, there is a high risk of mines in this area”. They may instead include the text “Mine! Opasnost! Dalje se krećete na vlastitu odgovornost.” which translates as “Mines! Danger! Beyond this point you go on your own responsibility.” Signs also include an image of a white skull on an inverted red triangle or some variation.
If you come across landmines or unexploded ordnance, do this:
- Call 112 if you can do so without moving
- Stand still immediately, don’t walk or move
- Do not panic and stay sober
- Think carefully before taking any action
- Don’t try to get out of the dangerous area
- Warn others that you are in a dangerous area
- Shout and call for help
- Wait for someone to come across
On the mine-suspected areas in Croatia, it is possible to find:
- MES – minsko eksplozivna sredstva (mines)
- NUS – neeksplodirana ubojna sredstva (unexploded ordnance)
View a gallery and description for each type of MES that can be found in Croatia here.
View a gallery and description for each type of NUS that can be found in Croatia here.
As of 1991, more than 1.370 mine accidents happened in Croatia. These accidents included more than 2.000 victims of whom more than 520 died. In the period after the end of the Croatian War of Independence through the present day, mine accidents included more than 590 people of whom more than 200 died.
More than 130 de-miners have suffered accidents during demining of whom more than 35 died.
Since 2006, Croatia marks an International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action every year on April 4. It is called “Međunarodni dan svjesnosti o opasnostima od mina i pomoći u protuminskom djelovanju”. This day was proclaimed an international mine awareness day at the 6th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2005.
Croatian Mine Action Center
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Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.