Demining – a Prerequisite for Farming
With winter coming to an end in the northern hemisphere, farmers are preparing their land for the sowing process. However, in countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) this task can be harder than it seems. BiH still has more than 100,000,000 square meters of land contaminated with mines, which hinders tillage and forestry, two of the most important sources of livelihood for a large number of inhabitants of BiH.
An important contribution in mitigating these disruptive issues has been made recently in affected areas in Brčko District and the Municipalities of Šamac, Domaljevac-Šamac and Donji Žabar. The Government of Japan donated 327,473.36 EUR through ITF Enhancing Human Security for the execution of demining and technical survey. The donation was used to clear 503,118 square meters of land that has subsequently been returned to the local population for productive use.
The cleared area was officially handed back to the local communities at a ceremony on 9 March 2017 in the premises of the Brčko District Assembly as well as at actual demining and technical survey locations. On this occasion, local community representatives thanked the Japanese people for once again showing friendship towards the peoples of BiH, and expressed their hopes that Japan will further recognise their needs. As pointed out by H. E. Kozuya Ogawa, Ambassador of Japan in BiH: “I am very glad for having developed partnership with ITF and the BiH Mine Action Centre. I hope this project will ensure better living conditions and safety for the local population.” Ambassador Ogawa accentuated that “Japan will always stand by BiH”. Ambassador Damjan Bergant, ITF Director, emphasized ITF’s honest commitment to further cooperation and engagement as well by stating, “ITF will stay in BiH until the very last mine”.
Since 1998, the Government of Japan donated 3.2 million EUR for landmine clearance in South-Eastern Europe through ITF. Out of this amount, 2.24 million EUR were earmarked for landmine clearance activities in BiH, enabling clearance of almost 1,600,000 square meters of mine affected land within 46 projects. 138 mines and 227 pieces of unexploded ordnance were found and destroyed. So far, ITF implemented 192.5 million USD of donors’ funds in BiH that resulted in more than 77,300,000 square meters of cleared minefields, 2,444 projects, and the destruction of around 21,000 mines and 18,000 pieces of unexploded ordnance.
ITF compliments the Government of Japan’s meaningful contributions and dedication in its efforts to ensure peace and stability in BiH by enabling mine clearance activities, which are above all a prerequisite for physical safety of the peoples of BiH as well as social and economic progress of the affected communities. ITF looks forward to sustainable cooperation with the Government of Japan, and the Embassy of Japan in BiH in particular, for realizing common goals, and many more achievements in helping people in need.
 Landmine monitor. 2016. Contamination and Clearance. Available at: http://www.the-monitor.org/media/2386748/Landmine-Monitor-2016-web.pdf.