Media Center

Press Release


  June 8, 2009

The Dutch government made a contribution of 1.1 million dollars to the Program for Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines of the Organization of American States (OAS) in order to finalize Nicaragua’s National Demining Plan and to achieve a mine-free Nicaragua this year.

The governments of Denmark and Japan complemented with bilateral contributions as their representatives in Managua pledged support at a joint ceremony Monday in Nicaragua’s Ministry of Foreign Relations.

The Dutch contribution will also support OAS Mine Risk Education activities through the end of the year and will enable the social and economic rehabilitation of areas cleared of landmines in Nicaragua. This is the first time an international donor provides funding specifically for this task.

The OAS has been assisting Nicaragua for the last eighteen years in removing over 171,000 antipersonnel mines throughout the country and facilitating the physical and psychological recovery of the 1,144 registered landmine surviving victims. During that timeframe, the program’s mine-safe messages have been carried over a million times person to person and by radio broadcast effectively reducing the number of landmine accidents in the country.

The donation, formalized yesterday in Managua at a signing ceremony between the Netherlands’ Chief of Mission Lambert C. Grijns and Pedro Vuskovic, OAS Representative in Nicaragua, with the presence of both the Danish and Japanese ambassadors plus Nicaragua’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Defense and high level military officials, is quite significant because it enables clearance of the remaining areas in Nueva Segovia and Jinotega departments, thereby making Nicaragua and all of Central America mine-free.

Throughout the last decade and a half the OAS has supported other member states’ national landmine plans and has overseen the conclusion of humanitarian mine action programs in Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Suriname.

The mine problem in Nicaragua originated from internal armed conflict in the 1980’s. As a result hundreds of communities in the interior as well as on the country’s international borders were contaminated with antipersonnel mines causing death and permanent injuries.

“We reached this day thanks to the hard and courageous work of hundreds of Nicaraguan soldiers and their officers in removing antipersonnel mines; and thanks to the cooperation of several countries that donated resources much like Holland is doing today,” said Vuskovic.

"The Netherlands has always considered humanitarian demining an integral part of national development, and is increasingly giving priority to socioeconomic development and productive activities in areas cleared of mines,” stated Grijns as he signed the donation agreement, which makes possible the completion of the Nicaraguan humanitarian demining program.

Ambassador Grijns expressed his satisfaction for “the work and effort of the Nicaraguan Army as an independent and professional institution,” as he also acknowledged Denmark’s and Japan’s contributions. The Dutch donation is critical in providing a much needed boost to ensure program completion and to facilitate the social and economic rehabilitation of cleared areas.

The OAS program assists national humanitarian demining programs in complying with the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” better known as the Ottawa Convention. With financial support from Denmark, Japan, and other donors, the OAS provided assistance for the completion of humanitarian demining programs in Costa Rica, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Upon completion of Nicaragua’s Demining Plan the OAS will continue to support in 2010 a small unit of deminers who will specialize in responding to alerts by the population of suspected leftover hazardous areas.

Reference: E-190/09