Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs
July 2, 2003
Republic of Slovenia's International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance
In May 1998, Congress appropriated $28 million for the Republic of Slovenia International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) to aid mine-affected countries in the Balkan region. The legislation specified that U.S. donations would be used to match contributions to the ITF by other governments, entities, or persons. Subsequently, Congress has appropriated an additional $24 million in matching funds for mine action conducted through the ITF, all of which has been matched by the United States.
The U.S. anticipates that Congress will continue to appropriate funding for Balkan mine action through the ITF. This is due to the excellent reputation the ITF has established with the international donor community since commencing operations in December of 1998. However, the United States finds the matching program to be particularly effective and encourages donors to consider the ITF as the demining instrument of choice.
The ITF has received contributions to date from 65 donors (including the United States) totaling over $111.2 million and currently has another $7 million in pledges outstanding. The donor population includes 25 governments, 10 regional/local governmental organizations, 15 commercial firms, 12 international civic or humanitarian assistance organizations, and three individuals. Of the total contributions received, the United States has contributed $52 million in matching funds and has over $10 million in unilateral donations, this last to meet pressing demining needs in the Balkans not addressed by other members of the international donor community. This includes $1.0 million to meet emergency clearance needs in Macedonia in support of refugee/IDP (internally displaced persons) returns, and just under $4.0 million in Kosovo to clear unexploded cluster bomb submunitions and other NATO air-dropped ordnance.
Initially, donations to the Trust Fund were used to address demining needs in Bosnia-Herzegovina; the successes gained there resulted in a subsequent expansion of demining operations to include Kosovo in 1999, as well as Croatia and Albania in 2000. Following an internal ethnic conflict in Macedonia in 2001, the United States funded Bosnian demining teams to conduct emergency clearance work to facilitate the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDP) before the onset of winter. The emergency clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Macedonia continued in 2002, augmented by a companion program to train and equip Macedonian clearance teams to assume residual mine and UXO clearance tasks. We also provided assistance to both partners of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Montenegro and Serbia) during 2002, and expect to support the ITF as it expands its operations to include the Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia).
In addition to its involvement in funding mine and UXO clearance operations, the ITF has also funded surgical treatment and rehabilitative care for well over 700 Bosnian, Kosovar and Albanian mine victims. This assistance will be extended to Macedonia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the near future as well.
Contributions to the ITF have come from international and private organizations such as the European Union, UNA/USA (Adopt-a-Minefield Program), CARE, and the Siemens Corporation, and includes support from the Governments of Canada, Germany, Norway, Croatia, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, France, Japan, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, South Korea, Belgium, Austria, Qatar, and Kuwait.
A total of 43 different international and local commercial firms and non-governmental organizations have been engaged by the ITF to conduct demining operations. These demining organizations have undertaken over 500 projects in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, and Serbia and Montenegro (including Kosovo). The combined results of these operations include 35.7 million square meters of land returned to safe use and over 17,209 mines and 15,891 items of unexploded ordnance destroyed. In addition, 750 victims have received rehabilitation assistance for mine-related injuries. This includes treatment at the Institute for Rehabilitation in Ljubljana, Slovenia, as well as at other rehabilitation centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina.