Norway is maintaining a high level of support for humanitarian mine clearance in 2019, with an allocation of NOK 345 million. ‘It is difficult to say how many lives the Mine Ban Treaty has saved, but we know that each of the nearly 52 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines that have so far been destroyed as a result of the Treaty had the potential to maim or kill,’ Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide said.
Minister Eriksen Søreide is visiting Bosnia and Herzegovina today, and will visit a breeding and training centre for mine detection dogs run by Norwegian People’s Aid. Bosnia and Herzegovina is one of the most landmine-affected countries in Europe, and Norwegian People’s Aid runs a major mine clearance programme in the country.
Norway has been a major contributor to global mine action over the past 25 years and is one of the world’s five largest donors in this area. The funding will go to 20 countries, including one new country, Sri Lanka, which has been added this year. Mine clearance is often essential for ensuring access to emergency aid in conflict areas, for making it possible for internally displaced people to return, and for enabling post-conflict reconstruction to take place. Norwegian People’s Aid is an important partner in this work.
Norway holds the presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty this year. The Mine Ban Treaty was adopted to put an end to the human suffering caused by the use of weapons that do not distinguish between combatants and civilians and that continue to cause death and injury long after a conflict is over. It is now over 20 years since the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force and 164 countries have ratified it. The Treaty has been described as one of the most successful disarmament agreements in recent times.
‘A world without landmines does not mean a world without mine victims. The Mine Ban Treaty highlights the need to provide assistance to survivors and the importance of their reintegration into society. Ensuring adequate healthcare, education and employment opportunities for mine victims is crucial. Norway will continue to provide support for efforts in this area in 2019,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.
The norm established by the Mine Ban Treaty against any use of anti-personnel mines is more relevant than ever. In recent years, home-made mines have contributed to a rise in the number of civilian deaths in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Eastern Ukraine and Yemen. Norway will consider making further allocations to mine clearance as part of our support for humanitarian efforts in these countries.
Renewed international attention is needed to ensure protection of civilians against explosives both during and after conflicts. Norway is making active use of its presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty to advance progress towards the goal of a mine-free world. Norway also gives priority to efforts to help victims of landmines.