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Centers and Organizations, ITF, Annual Report, 2005, Stockpile Destruction, Mine Action
The journey towards SE Europe region free from the impact of mines unites various stakeholders – the mine affected communities and their mine action authorities, international and local donor communities, the implementing partners and agencies – in a harmonized cooperation towards a positive end. The mandate of raising and managing funds has been entrusted to the ITF, which proved to be a recognizable and trustworthy partner. In 2005, the ITF funded some 50% of the demining programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina, approximately 20% in Croatia, 75% in Albania and over 50% in Serbia and Montenegro (incl. Kosovo). The overall number of new mine victims is decreasing due to mine clearance and mine-risk education programmes. Those who survived are being reincorporated to normal life through physical rehabilitation and psycho-social and economic opportunity programmes supported by the ITF. Furthermore, 2005 was a successful year also due the 10.4% raise of funds implemented, representing USD 27.7 million. The ITF and its personnel are thus firmly and decisively dedicated to the cause of solving the mine problem in SEE region. However, donations received in 2005 decreased by 9% in comparison to 2004. I have to draw your attention to the fact that donors still play a vital role in mine action financing, contributing to the accomplishment of the aims set by mine affected countries of South-Eastern Europe.
Since the establishment of the ITF in 1998, the comprehension of mine action has been changing along the way: the mobilization of international donor community, emerging and consolidation of mine action centres in mine affected countries in SEE, the linking up of the centres within the South-Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council, focusing on new mine action approaches and priorities (such as integrated mine action projects) etc. Apart from the security and humanitarian aims, mine action became integrated in reconstruction, development and confidence building projects, these activities being equally important as the purpose itself. The ITF managed to find balance along these lines, giving priority to activities that are aimed at saving human lives.
When looking at the past year, there is one event which has especially impressed me, namely the regional workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia, titled “Mine action as a confidence building measure”, organized by the ITF and hosted by the OSCE and Georgia. The workshop focused on the mine problem in the South Caucasus and Central Asian regions and contributed to the establishment of a proper environment for dialogue and cooperation among nations in these regions by gathering over 80 interested parties and the world’s leading mine-action authorities. The ITF thus added to the advancement of regional cooperation process in the field of mine action within the South Caucasus region, where distrust among nations is still present to a high degree and confidence building is rather neglected. Due to the expressed interests, the ITF plans to organize a similar workshop in Central Asia in 2006. The ITF is thus making small but important steps in contributing its share to addressing the mine problem in another mine affected region.