Norwegian–US mine clearance initiative

Norway and the US are joining forces in a further initiative to support mine clearance, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende and US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday.

'Clearing mines and other explosives from land areas is a vital part of the global struggle for peace,' said Mr Brende, following the launch of the initiative.

'The farmers in Ukraine need to know that it is safe to go out into the fields and start food production again. People in rural areas of Colombia need to know that it is safe to move back home. The inhabitants of Syria's cities need to know that they will not be putting their lives at risk when they start to rebuild buildings that have been destroyed by bombs,' Mr Brende said.

Norway is increasing its allocation for mine clearance efforts by NOK 81 million this year and will allocate a further NOK 125 million next year. The US is increasing its contribution by NOK 89 million this year, and will allocate an additional NOK 66 million next year.

Norway and the US are among the world's five largest contributors to the fight against landmines.

'By taking a joint lead and making a joint commitment to intensify our efforts in this area, we are giving an important boost to this vital work,' said Mr Brende.

In February, Norway and the US jointly launched the US–Norwegian Demining Initiative, with the aim of making Colombia mine-free by 2021. This initiative was followed up in the US–Nordic Leaders' Summit Joint Statement in Washington on 13 May, which stated that the US and Nordic countries will establish a new US–Nordic partnership in this area. At the Oslo Forum this week, the leadership shown by Norway and the US on this issue will be further underlined.

In 2015, Norway allocated NOK 227 million of its humanitarian aid funds to efforts to survey and clear mines and cluster munitions and to support the victims of landmines in 19 countries. These efforts are continuing. The additional NOK 81 million provided under this year's budget will be earmarked for new projects in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria.

Mine clearance work in areas of Iraq and Syria that have been liberated will be hazardous and demanding.

'We know that ISIL leaves behind countless death traps in the areas it has controlled, to prevent reconstruction and normalisation. Mine clearance in these areas will therefore depend on donor countries being willing to make a long-term commitment, and there will be a need for very close coordination of international efforts,' said Mr Brende.