Netherlands funding land mine removal in Syria, 8 other war-torn countries

Chinese Type 72 landmine found by US Marines in Iraq (Photo: Jjccc101/Wikimedia Commons)Chinese Type 72 landmine found by US Marines in Iraq (Photo: Jjccc101/Wikimedia Commons)

The Netherlands is contributing an extra 2 million euros for clearing land mines in areas in Syria that have been recaptured from terrorist organization Islamic State, Minister Bert Koenders of Foreign Affairs announced in London on Tuesday. Every year the Netherlands contributes about 20 million euros for demining in a number of war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Somalia and South-Sudan. 

Koenders was in London for a meeting organized by British Prince Harry to commemorate the 20th anniversary of an international treaty signed in Canada on the use, production and stockpiling of land mines.

The Dutch money will be used to train local teams in clearing land mines safely. Koenders calls these teams "of vital importance". "ISIS placed many improvised land mines and booby traps, making residential neighborhoods not easily accessible and very dangerous. These kinds of explosives are hidden, for example, in toys and kitchen cabinets", Koenders said. "Only when this deadly mess is cleaned up, can people return safely and rebuild their lives", he said. 

Over the past four years the Dutch contribution cleared land mines from nearly 52 million square meters of land and informed nearly 2 million people about the dangers land mines pose. Over 6 thousand victims were helped with prosthesis and psychological aid.