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Bosnia and Herzogovina: substantial state support to Red Cross mine action

04-04-2007 News Release

International Mine Action Day was marked publicly today in Sarajevo. The event was organized by the Mine Action Centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina. All the organizations and institutions dealing with mine action presented their activities at stands made especially for this occasion.

A diversity of organizations was present: the UN, Civil Protection, the Landmine Survivors Network, the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RCSBiH) accompanied by the ICRC, as well as donors such as the International Trust Fund (ITF).

The RCSBiH took over mine action activities from the ICRC, which initiated its first mine action exactly a decade ago, under the slogan: " you survived the war, survive the peace! " A lot has been done since then, when the number of victims was counted in hundreds.

Following the example of the ICRC initiative, many organizations got involved in order to try to combat different aspects of the mine and ERW (explosive remnants of war) problem in BiH. Mine action gained momentum when states decided in 1997 to sign the Ottawa Treaty that prohibits the production, use, stockpiling and storage of anti-personnel mines. Bosnia and Herzegovina was one of the first states to ratify the treaty.

The ICRC and RCSBiH were always at the core of coordination of mine action activities, since they possessed the only comprehensive database on mine victims in the country. All other organizations and institutions were using these data. At the same time, BiH state institutions focused on the magnitude of the mine problem, since according to official data,  BiH is contaminated with one million mines. In 2002, BiH adopted the Law on Demining, which recognized the establishment of the BiH Mine Action Centre (BHMAC). In accordance with the law, BiH adopted the Mine Action Strategy.

The RCSBiH is playing an important role in this strategy. Its widespread network of mine instructors and volunteers who carry valuable exp erience of working with mine-affected communities, schoolchildren, and groups in society that are most at risk, such as fishermen and woodcutters, make the RCSBiH a recognized partner of the state in addressing this problem.

The Minister of Communication of Bosnia and Herzegovina stated today at the RCSBiH stand that the Ministry would support any project conducted by the Red Cross. A precise  plan was decided on-the-spot: the Ministry of Civil Affairs would support the project to revise the National Mine Victims Database, which would be implemented by the RCRS, BHMAC and HOPE 87, the Austrian NGO for mine victim support based in Sarajevo. The plan is to integrate the revised National Mine Victims Database into the health information system. The database will be used for monitoring preventive mine action activities as well as changes in mine/ERW use.