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P R E S S   R E L E A S E

For immediate release : 18 July, 1997

ICG Publishes Report on the Landmine Crisis in Bosnia

The International Crisis Group (ICG) publishes today a report on the landmine crisis in Bosnia. The 20-page report, entitled Ridding Bosnia of Landmines: The Urgent Need for a Sustainable Policy, is the result of several months study of the dangers posed by roughly 1 million landmines left over from the 1992-1995 war, and of the various national and international demining initiatives since the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed in December 1995.

UN officials believe that between 300 and 500 square kilometres of Bosnian landscape have been contaminated by landmines. These mines cause maiming injuries and deaths 50 to 80 times per month, and are a serious barrier to investment and economic revival. More than 18 months after the Dayton Peace agreement came into force, less than one percent of land poisoned by hidden explosives have been cleared.

The ICG report explores the main complicating factors in developing a sustainable national demining effort. Mine clearance has been a high priority for the United Nations and other international organisations. Specialists with world-wide experience in the technical aspects of demining have assembled here, attempting to lay the foundation for a sustained national mine clearance programme. Meanwhile, some Bosnian officials have treated the availability of funding primarily as a financial windfall for a well connected few. Profiteering and political chicanery have dampened the international communitys willingness to help.

The international players -- which include individual governments, the UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), the World Bank, the European Commission, and NGOs -- differ to some degree in their priorities and emphasis. For example, some work comfortably within and through the UN, while others keep a distance. The demining support provided by the NATO-led Stabilisation Force has been weakened by the restrictive interpretation of its mandate.

The immediate issue for the international players is committing funds for demining. The focus at the next Donors Conference will rest in particular on a number of states which have the know-how, military base and economic wherewithal to play a significant role in demining but which remain conspicuously absent from the list of donors supporting the demining effort in Bosnia to date. France and Great Britain fall into that group, but the country that is most notable for its absence is Germany.

For further information contact ICG sarajevo on +38-7-71-447-845, ICG Brussels on 322-502-9038 or send e-mail here

The International Crisis Group is a private, multinational organisation created to reinforce the capacity and resolve of the international community to prevent crises arising from human causes. Members of the ICG board include former heads of state and government, foreign ministers, MPs and leading figures in business and the media. ICG is chaired by the former US Senate majority leader, George Mitchell.


See the full report

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