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- Dubai 03:59 05:25 12:20 15:41 19:10 20:35
More than two decades since the adoption of the landmark Mine Ban Treaty and the creation of the UN Mine Action Service, millions of landmines have been destroyed, but land in nearly 70 countries globally is still contaminated and innocent people continue to be killed or maimed.
Marked annually on 4th April the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action draws awareness to why landmines are one of the most insidious and indiscriminate weapons of war.
The latest estimates show that in 2021, more than 5,500 people were killed or maimed by landmines, most of them were civilians, half of whom were children. More than two decades after the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty, about sixty million people in nearly 70 countries and territories still live with the risk of landmines on a daily basis.
The UN Mine Action Service, launched the campaign “Mine Action Cannot Wait '' to mark the International Day, as countries like Angola, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam, continue to suffer from decades of landmine contamination.
Landmines can lie dormant for years or even decades until they are triggered.
“Even after the fighting stops, conflicts often leave behind a terrifying legacy: landmines and explosive ordnance that litter communities,” says UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his message for the International Day.
“Peace brings no assurance of safety when roads and fields are mined, when unexploded ordnance threatens the return of displaced populations, and when children find and play with shiny objects that explode.”
Landmines, which can be produced for as little as $1, do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Their use violates international human rights and humanitarian laws.
They not only cost lives and limbs, but also prevent communities from accessing land that could be used for farming or building hospitals and schools as well as essential services such as food, water, health care and humanitarian aid.
There are more than 600 different types of landmines grouped into two broad categories - anti-personnel (AP) and anti-tank landmines. AP mines come in different shapes and can be found buried or above ground. A common type, known as the “butterfly” mine - comes in bright colours, making it attractive to curious children.
UNMAS and its partners have made progress on various aspects of achieving a mine-free world, including clearance, educating people, especially children, about the risks of mines, victim assistance advocacy and the destruction of stockpiles.
Since the late 90s, more than 55 million landmines have been destroyed, over 30 countries have become mine-free, casualties have been dramatically reduced and mechanisms, including the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action, have been established to support victims and communities in need.
Today, 164 countries are parties to the Mine Ban Treaty which is considered one of the most ratified disarmament conventions to date. However, despite the progress, broader global efforts are needed to safeguard people from landmines, according to the UN Secretary-General.
“Let’s take action to end the threat of these devices of death, support communities as they heal, and help people return and rebuild their lives in safety and security.”
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