As ISIL militants are rooted out of Syrian and Iraqi territories they once controlled, they litter the area with deadly, explosive booby traps. Until these explosives are safely removed, reconstruction cannot commence and the citizens of formerly-occupied towns and villages cannot begin to return to normal life. Indeed, clearing explosive remnants of war is foundational for building enduring peace and prosperity in every country touched by war. It helps heal the wounds of conflict, and provides security necessary to move forward as a society.
That is why the United States and Norway announced the U.S.-Norwegian Demining Initiative. As part of this program, the United States will this year provide at least $10.8 million additional to clear those portions of Iraq that have been liberated from ISIL occupation. We will provide up to $8 million next year to do the same in liberated portions of Syria.
Norway will provide $9.8 million for mine clearance this year, with a particular focus on Iraq and Syria, and plans to increase its financial support for global mine clearance by $15 million next year.
The United States is the world’s largest single financial supporter of efforts to clear unexploded war materiel. Since 1993, we have contributed $2.5 billion for mine clearance in some 90 countries around the world. This latest initiative builds on a similar effort signed this year and led by the United States and Norway--the Global Demining Initiative for Colombia.
Protecting civilians and supporting post-conflict recovery is a shared foreign policy priority for the United States and Norway, as reflected in our work together clearing explosive remnants of war in Colombia, Iraq, Laos and elsewhere.
The United States and Norway will convene a ministerial-level demining conference this fall on the margins of the UN General Assembly in order to secure commitments on humanitarian mine action from other governments and private sector partners, and thereby help further the cause of international peace and security.