MAG is delighted to welcome a new €10.7 million (£9.2m) commitment from the Dutch government to support our work saving lives and clearing landmines and unexploded bombs in Iraq, Lebanon and South Sudan.
The funding — part of the Dutch government's €51,000,000 Mine Action and Cluster Munitions Programme 2020 - 2024 — will help over 160,000 people by removing mines and other explosive remnants of war and delivering thousands of life-saving lessons.
Iraq is one of the world’s most landmine-affected countries. Conflicts stretching back to the 1980s have left the country with extensive landmine and cluster munition contamination — compounded by the recent contamination left behind by ISIS’s occupation and expulsion between 2014 and 2017.
At the height of the ISIS crisis, more than three million people fled their homes — and whole communities are still being prevented from returning home owing to the large-scale deployment of landmines of an improvised nature by retreating ISIS forces.
More than 400,000 landmines were laid on the Blue Line on Lebanon’s southern border. And more than four million cluster bombs were also dropped in 2006 — an estimated 40 per cent did not explode, remaining deadly to this day.
Lebanon has provided shelter for more than a million Syrian refugees, increasing the need for safe land.
In South Sudan, periods of bitter conflict stretching back to 1955 have left extensive landmine and cluster munition contamination.
With the country on the precipice of famine, there is an urgent need to clear land for productive agricultural use.
Over the four-year project, the Dutch funding will enable MAG to increase its landmine clearance capacity and support the release of 3,777,695 square metres of land in Iraq, 384,414 in Lebanon and 850,000 in South Sudan.
MAG CEO Darren Cormack said: “MAG is proud to have worked in partnership with the Dutch Government for almost 10 years. This new funding is wonderful news for communities in Iraq, Lebanon and South Sudan as it will benefit more than 160,000 people. People for whom the support is vital, whether they are trying to rebuild their lives after ISIS or build their livelihoods in the face of economic and food supply insecurity.
“Despite the many global challenges we face, we applaud the Dutch government’s long-term commitment to supporting communities to live, work and play free from the fear of landmines and unexploded bombs.”
Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, said:
“Our continued assistance to mine-affected communities is vital. Mine action prevents more human suffering, enables people to reclaim their living environment, and is key to development. It determines whether farming communities can grow their own crops or will go short of food. It determines whether children can go to school or be forced to stay at home.
"The COVID-19 crisis has made things very difficult for the mine action sector; delaying operations in many countries and hampering consultations on every level. However, I am pleased to say that the sector has proved resilient, and is determined to continue its important work.”
MAG's work in Iraq, Lebanon and South Sudan is not possible without the support of our donors.