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Irish Aid’s Humanitarian Mine Clearance Work

Building on Ireland’s proud tradition and commitment to international peace and security, disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons have historically been key foreign policy objectives for Ireland.  

Irish Aid demining Maputo, Mozambique

An Irish Aid funded deminer working in Mahanhane in Maputo province, Mozambique © HALO Trust 

Irish Aid’s support to mine clearance programmes, including weapons and ammunition disposal, contributes to Ireland’s disarmament and treaty priorities by saving lives and reducing risks to civilians from remnants of past conflicts. 

These international treaties include the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (the Ottawa Treaty), the cornerstone of the international effort to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel (AP) mines, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions adopted in Dublin in 2008.  

Humanitarian mine action directly contributes to achieving the goals, priority areas of actions and priority outputs set out Ireland’s policy for international development, A Better World, in particular those relating to reducing global hunger and building resilience, our focus on countries experiencing instability & fragility / those emerging from conflict, and our focus on providing humanitarian assistance to those in greatest need and on saving lives.  

For example, Irish Aid’s support to humanitarian mine action and in clearing mine contaminated land and roads contributes to increasing access to agricultural and grazing land for poor smallholder farmers, increasing agricultural productivity, improving access to markets and essential services, tackling food insecurity and boosting resilience.  It also helps to sustain economic growth at household level by providing direct incomes to poor rural households employed in demining teams and boosting incomes from farming.

Ireland’s Humanitarian Assistance Policy also emphasises - under Policy Objective 3 which focuses on linking Ireland’s humanitarian and development approaches - that: 

“our support for humanitarian demining and weapons and ammunition disposal makes an important contribution to Ireland’s priority action for increased focus on situations of fragility”.

While the primary humanitarian argument for funding mine action is saving lives and reducing human casualties, our new humanitarian assistance policy recognises that:

“by opening up access to services and markets, demining efforts contribute to risk reduction and reconstruction in post conflict situations”

and that

“the clearance of land opens up opportunities for agricultural production and business development and so has a link to longer term socio-economic development.”

Ireland has been a supporter of humanitarian mine action since the early 1990s. Total Irish Aid expenditure for demining since 2006 currently stands at €43 million covering 17 countries – Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, Jordan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Serbia, Somalia/Somaliland, South Sudan, Ukraine, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. €20.5 million in mine action funding was provided over the period 2012-2018.  Mozambique was officially declared mine free in September 2015.

‌‌Zimbabwe: Irish Aid funded deminer Sarah Mwnyediyan ©Halo Trust

Zimbabwe: Irish Aid funded deminer Sarah Mwnyediyan ©HALO Trust