Ten million EUR intended for humanitarian demining projects in BiH diverted to COVID 19 and migration issues
On the 9th special telephone session of BiH Council of Ministers held on April 7th 2020, it has been decided that funds of 10 million EUR from IPA 2018 – 2020 program should be diverted to COVID 19 and migration issues. These EU funds were intended for support of mine action in BiH, including the procurement of protective equipment and working supplies for terrain work of BiH Mine Action Centre, Directorate for Civil Protection and Federal Directorate for Civil Protection as well as financing of demining projects of priority areas in our country.
With full understanding of the current status of our country and region, BiH Mine Action Centre nevertheless wants to remind that there are still 967 km2 of mine suspected area in Bosnia and Herzegovina, affecting the safety of approximately half million people who live or work nearby mine affected areas. The fact that there were 1767 victims, out of which 617 fatalities, speaks for itself that demining is still a key issue and its consequences must still be a reminder.
As signatory state of the international Convention to ban landmines and according to the current Mine Action Strategy, we are obliged to remove all remained mine explosive devices by 2025. However, since all activities on the ground within the meaning of demining operation conduct are at halt, the realization of annual operational goals and deadlines is put under question.
Failure to form the essential and necessary Demining Commission in BiH, with its many responsibilities and jurisdiction in accrediting organizations and advocating on national and international scene, created an additional blockade for achieving adequate solutions in final elimination of remained mine explosive devices, thus having partially influenced the failure to adopt changes and amendments to BiH Law on Demining.
Although as a state we strive to put the maximum into this process, we stress out that mine action still depends majorly on traditional donors’ support, which is harder to get apart from good will and commitments of all donor countries who still support these activities in BiH and around the world.
It is important to stress out that due to current movement of people in mountain areas where mines mines are still present, BiH Mine Action Centre is conducting an enhanced control and renewal of emergency mine warning signs, all in order to protect and warn citizens about mine explosive devices and unknown areas to avoid.
Aware of the importance to fight the existing pandemics and without judging the decisions made by our country, we do appeal to all competent authorities to try and look for additional solutions to finance mine action in the country when conditions allow. We must not forget that remaining mine explosive threat influences both safety of our population and overall development of Bosnia and Herzegovina.