[Adapted with permission from ITF Enhancing Human Security]
Mine Free Sarajevo, one of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s most important land release projects of the last decade, has officially been completed. Over 6 million square meters of mine-affected areas in and around the capital Sarajevo have been released and 841 landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO) have been found and destroyed. This achievement supported by the United States Government is a major step towards freeing the entire country from the deadly legacy of war and allowing citizens to finally live freely.
In commemoration of the event, President and CEO Perry Baltimore and VP of Operations, Elise Becker met with our project partners ITF Enhancing Human Security, the Mine Detection Dog Center (MDDC), and U.S. Embassy officials, and other government officials in Bosnia & Herzegovina for a two-day celebration (August 31st to September 1st). The festivities were kicked off with a welcome reception in Old Town Sarajevo, followed by a visit to a cleared site in East Stari Grad and a cable car ride down Trebević Mountain to meet with the Mayor of Sarajevo at the City Hall. A closing ceremony and reception were held in the beautiful Bosnia & Herzegovina National Museum Gardens.
Despite reaching this critical milestone to remove explosive remnants of war, the work in the country is far from over. As Tomaž Lovrenčič, the director of ITF, an organization that has been present in the country for more than 23 years, said:
While so much has been achieved, large areas of the country continue to be contaminated and mine fields continue to present a significant danger for the citizens. I would like to issue a call to other donors to join the effort, led by the United States, to clear Bosnia & Herzegovina of mines in its entirety. Today, in Sarajevo, we have our goal firmly set on a Mine Free Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Thank you to the participating organizations, as well as assistance and support of local authorities, especially the Bosnia & Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC), the mayors of individual municipalities, and the mayor of the City of Sarajevo, the area is now completely mine-impact free and significantly safer for locals and tourists.
To see photos of the Mine Free Sarajevo closing ceremony, please visit our photo gallery.