|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference on International Day for Mine Awareness
and Assistance in Mine Action
Mine action entailed improving the livelihoods of the affected people, not just removing landmines, United Nations experts said at Headquarters today as they marked the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
“Mine action is more than mine clearance, and mine action is also about the people,” said Agnès Marcaillou, Director of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, at a news conference. She stressed the need to help landmine victims retain their dignity and reinsert themselves into society through employment opportunities and support from their communities and Governments.
Referring to the “Lend Your Leg campaign”, which required the rolling up of trouser legs to show support for those who have lost limbs to landmines, Ms. Marcaillou noted that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his Spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, had rolled up their trouser legs. She rolled up her own sleeve during the press conference because the podium blocked the view of her legs.
She called on Member States to join the mine action treaties and urged those already on board to implement them “fully and in a timely manner”. Mine action “is an essential enabler” for humanitarian action, human security and the Millennium Development Goals, she said, citing the Secretary-General’s five-point plan.
Ms. Marcaillou also emphasized the importance of partnerships, citing a “success story” about limiting the damage from the horrendous recent explosion of an ammunition storage facility in Brazzaville, Congo. “In the minutes the United Nations arrived, it pooled forces with civil society and with the Government,” she said. “I’m absolutely proud to report that when the UN and others are working together seamlessly, there are no more victims.”
She said a multimedia exhibition featuring photographs of mine action and the threat of landmines would open at 6 p.m. today in the Visitors Lobby at Headquarters. (See Note No. 6343 of 4 April)
Tim Horner, Mine Action Adviser with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the agency had reorganized its Headquarters operations by putting Mine Action in the Livelihood Unit to reflect what mine action was all about. He also underlined the importance of cooperation, saying “we work in some 40-plus countries… and the spirit of partnership is clearly the way to have the greatest impact.”
Paul Heslop, Chief of the Programme Planning and Management Section at UNMAS, said mine action had been a success story of the last 20 years. “We are winning the battle against mines… and there are far fewer victims and far fewer incidents involving mines,” he said. Yet, efforts and funding must continue towards a mine-free world. “In another five or 10 years, we really will be standing up on 4 April and saying we have a mine-free world,” he added. “If we don’t, the last few mines will be cleared by people who stand on them.”
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