By Marion Loddo, Support for Mine Action, Consultant, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor
This year’s celebration of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (4 April) was marked by the announcement by the United Kingdom of a £100 million aid package (about US$124 million) to support landmine clearance projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Somalia, and South Sudan over the next three years, which represents a tripling in its contribution to mine action. In comparison from 2013-2015, the Landmine Monitor reported that the UK contributed a total of £32.7 million (US$51.3 million). Afghanistan and Cambodia have been the two largest recipients of UK mine action support from 2011-2015, while no new funding from the UK has been reported for Somalia and South Sudan since 2013.
Speaking at a reception at Kensington Palace hosted by the Mines Advisory Group and the HALO Trust, the UK International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, declared this new commitment would address the “global scourge” of landmines and would contribute to “making the world safer, healthier and more prosperous for us all.”
Other mine action donors have recently renewed their commitment to providing financial resources to support mine action efforts:
- On 7 April 2017, Mexico, as part of its support to the Global Demining Initiative for Colombia, donated US$1 million to the GICHD to support mine action in Colombia over the next three years.
- Also during the event at Kensington Palace, last week, the Netherlands pledged €2 million (US$2.1 million) for training and the deployment of local demining teams in liberated areas in Syria.
- In March 2017, Japan donated about US$7.5 million to support mine action projects implemented by UNMAS in the Democratic Republic of the Congo ($450,000), Somalia ($906,000), South Sudan ($906,000), Sudan, ($906,000), and Iraq ($4.3 million).
- In March 2017, Canada pledged new funding to support risk education, clearance, and capacity-building activities in Ukraine (CAN$3.9 million/US$2.9 million) as well as clearance operations in Iraq (CAN$2 million/US$1.5 million) and Sri Lanka (CAN$1.9 million/US$1.4 million).
- Early this year, Switzerland announced it would contribute US$3.5 million through the Clearing for Results project to support mine action operations in Cambodia from 2017-2019. This represents a level of funding similar to recent funding provided by Switzerland to the country ($4 million provided in 2013-2015).
On 28 February 2017 took place the Second Pledging Conference for the Implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty attended by 36 States Parties, 2 states not party, the EU, the ICBL-CMC, and other non-governmental and international organizations. The Pledging Conference provided an opportunity for participants to reaffirm their commitment to support the implementation of the treaty. In total, 18 States Parties made pledges to the treaty’s Implementation Support Unit and sponsorship programme. The ICBL-CMC along with other mine action actors encouraged the international community to increase financial assistance and political support to meet the goal of a mine-free world by 2025.
After three years of declining international support to mine action, renewed political commitments from some donors toward achieving a mine-free world by 2025 is more than appropriate and urgently needed.