The coalition must continue to fund demining operations in “forgotten” conflicts instead of diverting resources to Ukraine, according to an internal State Department report.
The unpublished assessment of the Republic’s humanitarian demining program argues that its niche is removing explosive ordnance from parts of the world that rarely make headlines, and that this should continue to be the case.
It says that “high-profile global conflicts,” including in Ukraine and Syria, already have huge funding for demining, so one organization operating in Ukraine has considered turning down further donations. Irish help There is little that can be done in these “overcrowded donor spaces,” the report says.
Through its international development program Irish Aid, the government funds demining operations in five countries, primarily through a partnership with the Halo Trust, an international landmine clearance organization. Since 2006, the Republic has provided 55 million euros for landmine clearance in 17 countries.
The report, which examines the effectiveness of Irish funding since 2018, concludes that the state’s contribution has been extremely helpful in reducing civilian casualties from unexploded ordnance and making land safe for agriculture, development and transport .
In most cases, demining operations have met or exceeded objectives. Between 2018 and 2020, Irish funding cleared 4.01 million square meters of land from mines, exceeding Irish Aid’s target by 18 per cent. 64,000 people benefited from this, 148 percent more than planned.
The report, submitted to the ministry in December 2022, said Russia has planted newly developed landmines in occupied parts of Ukraine since its full-scale invasion began last year.
Ukraine has been identified by the republic as a “new potential priority,” the report said. However, it is said that demining in the country is difficult and is well funded by other donors.
“In that crowded donor room [Irish Aid] offers little value, while in other parts of the world it is difficult to raise funds for landmine clearance.”
The report “urged” the government to focus on “forgotten” minefields “rather than diverting scarce resources to Ukraine.”
Syria, devastated by a long-running civil war, is also well-funded by others and Ireland adds little value, it said.
“There is no interest among stakeholders in redirecting current resources to ‘hotspots’ such as Ukraine or Syria; “These are crowded donor spaces,” the report’s authors conclude.
Irish Defense Forces personnel are training Ukrainian forces in demining and explosive ordnance disposal, but this is on an EU-coordinated military base and not as part of a humanitarian program.
The report states that the value of the state’s humanitarian demining program lies in its commitment to steady, long-term funding for lower-profile operations and that this should continue.
Countries like Zimbabwe are almost mine-free, meaning it is becoming increasingly difficult to get international funds. The Republic should continue to bridge this gap and help these countries complete the “last mile/last mine,” it said.
Although the report was broadly positive about the state’s contributions, it found that some focused Irish aid too much on objectives rather than the “bigger picture”. Irish officials were also advised to increase their knowledge of how demining works.
When asked, the department said it had taken the report’s findings into account and launched a new three-year program that would continue to focus on “forgotten crises.”
Although the report recommended not redirecting funds to Syria, “further consultation” with the Halo Trust revealed a need for resources in northwest Syria, a spokeswoman said. Therefore, it was included in the new program, she added.