MAG has been awarded a $6 million grant by the United States Government to conduct landmine clearance activities and deliver risk education in Syria.
The funding has been awarded by the U.S. State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian demining.
MAG has been present in northeast Syria since 2016 and is the largest humanitarian mine action operator in the area. To date, MAG has removed more than 78,000 explosive ordnance items, released more than 40 million square meters of land across the region, and delivered risk education sessions to over 600,000 people.
The new grant will enable MAG to continue operations in Syria to clear a further 3.6 million square meters of land and deliver risk education sessions to an additional 34,000 people living at risk of injury.
The funding will also enable MAG to train local Community Focal Points to identify and report suspicious items. Community Focal Points are integral to amplifying safety messaging in their communities.
Existing trained and equipped teams will be deployed to operations across northeast Syria.
The 2022 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) estimated that over 2 million internally displaced people are living in last-resort sites, with many not returning to their homes due to severe damage and the fear of explosive ordnance. Some 12 years of conflict has left massive contamination in the form of landmines, booby-traps, and improvised explosive devices, leaving approximately one third of populated communities contaminated with explosive ordnance.
With the full extent of contaminated land not yet known, support for further survey and clearance activities is vital to better understand the scale of the problem, and where mine action can have the greatest benefit for conflict affected communities.
MAG Regional Director for the Middle East Najat El Hamri said: “The past 12 years of conflict in Syria have had a devastating impact on ordinary citizens. More than 90% of the Syrian population now lives below the poverty line. Clearing contaminated land is essential for the economic security of those dependent on agriculture-based livelihoods and for the rehabilitation of properties and homes affected by the conflict.
“This grant will enable us to increase civilian security through clearing explosive ordnance and returning land and infrastructure to productive use.
“The continued support of the U.S. Government is crucial to our life-saving operations worldwide. We are extremely thankful for their continued trust and partnership.”
Karen Chandler, Director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, said: “WRA is pleased to continue supporting MAG operations in Syria. MAG’s achievements since the conflict began have been vital in improving civilian security in Syria, where the presence of unexploded ordnance is wide."