State of landmines in Croatia

Landmines in Croatia
Image by Zadarski.hr

UPDATED: 10.4.2024.

After the end of the Croatian War of Independence, there was a problem with the remaining landmines in Croatia which weren’t collected from the Croatian territory during and right after the war. De-mining is a time-consuming and expensive process that has been ongoing in Croatia since the war.

Great progress has been made in collecting the remaining weapons and landmines from Croatian territory. Most areas are free of landmines, but some regions still need to be checked and cleared. Nevertheless, Croatia is a safe country concerning infrastructure, transport, tourism destinations, and other public locations and facilities.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

Current state of landmines in Croatia

A mina (landmine) is an explosive weapon in the shape of a closed box whose explosives are activated by accidental foot pressure, touch, or hit. They are cheap, relatively efficient, and usually used as a defensive weapon.

Landmines were used by all warring parties during the Domovinski rat (Croatian War of Independence) from 1991 to 1995. 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.

Although Croatia is nowadays a safe place to live, the existence of landmines does impact the security of the population. It is still necessary to avoid certain contaminated areas to prevent serious accidents or death.

[Read: Is Croatia a safe country?]

Minski sumnjivo područje – MSP (landmine suspected area) currently covers 92,1 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 not only the use of the land but also the development of Croatian society as a whole.

In 2023, landmine suspected areas are made up of:

  • Forests – 98,7%
  • Agricultural land – 1,3%
  • Other surfaces – 0,1%

These suspected areas are located in 4 Croatian counties, on the territories of 21 cities and municipalities. Below are the statistics for landmine-suspected areas by Croatian counties recorded in 2023:

  • Karlovac county – 14,4 km2
  • Lika-Senj county – 59,3 km2
  • Sisak-Moslavina county – 10,4 km2
  • Split-Dalmatia county – 8,0 km2

It is estimated that these areas are contaminated with approximately 10.000 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 Hrvatski centar za razminiranje (Croatian Mine Action Center) from 2014, there were approximately 60.000 mines in Croatia.

A map of high-risk areas of mines and unexploded ordnance in Croatia is provided by MIS Portal Hrvatskog centra za razminiranje (Portal of the Croatian Mine Action Center – CROMAC) and it is available here.

Who is in charge of de-mining in Croatia?

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 and transferred to the body responsible for the disposal and management of state property

Every year, the Croatian government adopts an annual Plan protuminskog djelovanja (Mine Action Plan). MUP prepares conceptual de-mining plans and implementation plans of technical surveys 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.

You will have to describe the purpose of the request and deliver data on the cadastral parcel and cadastral municipality.

[Read: How to find property ownership records in Croatia]

A request can be sent to MUP to:

  • Ministarstvo unutarnjih poslova, Ravnateljstvo civilne zaštite, Nehajska 5, 10 000 Zagreb
  • hcr@civilna-zastita.hr

Mine warning signs in Croatia

Contaminated areas in Croatia are marked with warning boards warning of the mine risk. There are more than 4.082 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 return 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 these text:

  • Mine! NE PRILAZITE, na ovom području je velika opasnost od mina (Mines! DO NOT APPROACH, there is a high risk of mines in this area)
  • Mine! Opasnost! Dalje se krećete na vlastitu odgovornost. (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

[Read: Emergency and helpful phone numbers for Croatia]

Suspected items that can be found on the field in Croatia

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.

Statistics on mine victims in Croatia

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 Međunarodni dan svjesnosti o opasnostima od mina i pomoći u protuminskom djelovanjuan (International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action) every year on April 4. 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

Hrvatski centar za razminiranje (Croatian Mine Action Center)

Address: Većeslava Holjevca 20c, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)1 3031 238; +385 (0)1 3031 239
E-mail: hcr@civilna-zastita.hr

View other Croatian safety articles


Sources:
Razminiranje by Ravnateljstvo civilne zaštite
Minska situacija u RH
Međunarodni dan svjesnosti o opasnostima od mina i pomoći u protuminskom djelovanju
Priručnik – Mine
Plan protuminskog djelovanja do 2021. godine
Cilj nam je Hrvatsku očistiti od mina do ožujka 2026. godine by Vanja Vesić

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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