Top United Nations Officials Join ‘Lend Your Leg’ Campaign to Raise Awareness of Mine Action, Calling for Solidarity with Survivors

4 April 2012
DC/3339-OBV/1090

Top United Nations Officials Join ‘Lend Your Leg’ Campaign to Raise Awareness of Mine Action, Calling for Solidarity with Survivors

4 April 2012
Press Release
DC/3339 OBV/1090
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Top United Nations Officials Join ‘Lend Your Leg’ Campaign to Raise Awareness

Of Mine Action, Calling for Solidarity with Survivors

 

Top United Nations officials are calling for solidarity with landmine survivors and raising awareness for mine action work in the global “Lend Your Leg” campaign, as the recent use of landmines in Libya and Syria places worldwide efforts to remove landmines and other explosive remnants of war high on the international agenda.

“On this year’s International Day for Mine Awareness, we are ‘lending our legs’ in a campaign to show support and compassion for survivors,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his official message for 2012.  “Working closely with national authorities and non-governmental organizations, the United Nations is implementing mine-risk education and victim assistance in more than 40 countries, teaching communities how to live safely in contaminated areas, and assisting survivors with disabilities to obtain access to the full range of services and rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.”

The “Lend Your Leg” campaign encourages people around the world by the simple but symbolic gesture of rolling up a trouser leg or sleeve in support of stopping the damage landmines still cause while showing solidarity with all survivors of those and other explosive remnants of war.  United Nations support for mine action in more than 40 countries includes building national capacities, finding and destroying landmines and other explosive remnants of war, assisting victims, teaching people how to remain safe in a mine-affected environment, advocating for universal adherence to the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty and other instruments, and destroying stockpiled devices.

“When landmines and explosive remnants of war take from people their limbs, their dignity and their livelihoods, when they make roads and fields unusable and dangerous, they threaten productivity, basic social services and access to property and vital infrastructure,” said Jordan Ryan, Director of the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  “Clearing these hazards and releasing land back to the communities allow them to once again work their land, earn a living, and live safely — all of which link mine action to broader development plans.”

Susan Bissell, Chief of Child Protection at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said:  “Global mine action has been a resounding success and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty continues to attract States parties.  Nevertheless, children continued to be affected in many parts of the world, where they make up almost half of all civilian casualties.  Simply being a child, with a natural curiosity and desire to play, touch, seek and explore, is risky in an environment contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war.”

The joint effort by mine-affected countries, non-governmental organizations and the United Nations to clear mines, provide mine risk education, and destroy stockpiles has helped to reduce the annual number of new casualties to about 4,000 — down more than 75 per cent from a high of 26,000 in 1997.  More than 15,000 Afghans were employed in the country’s mine-action sector in 2011, and over 1,000 kilometres of roads were opened in Somalia.  In Libya, the clearing of 60 schools enabled 21,000 children to return to classes.  More than 2,600 houses were also cleared, helping thousands of families return to their homes.

In addition, more than 350,000 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo learned about the risks of landmines, and in Iraq, over 1,600 persons with disabilities received ortho-prosthetic devices, maintenance of their devices, physiotherapy, walking aids and vocational training services.  Strides were also made over the last year in Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, Tajikistan and South Sudan.

“The UN Mine Action Team represents ‘One UN’ in action, and the ‘Lend Your Leg’ campaign befits the noble cause of mine action,” said Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions.  “We’ve made impressive progress towards eliminating landmines and explosive remnants of war during 2011.  In 2012, we will continue to strengthen our partnerships with affected countries.”

Top UN officials who participated in the “Lend Your Leg” campaign include:  Secretary-General Ban; Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women; Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs; Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights; Ian Martin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya; Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; and Mr. Ryan.  Joining them were UN Goodwill Ambassadors Iker Casillas (UNDP) and Muazzez Ersoy (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

Events in New York

“UN Common Cause”:  A joint exhibition by celebrated Swiss photographer Marco Grob and renowned Italian photographer Giovanni Diffidenti on the impact of landmines and other explosive remnants of war on civilians in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Libya.  The show officially opens at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 April, at United Nations Headquarters.  Delegates, journalists, United Nations staff and the general public are warmly invited to attend.  Please RSVP to ozawa@un.org.

Global Lend Your Leg Campaign

Watch the video and join the campaign at www.lendyourleg.org.

Contacts in New York

Aaron J. Buckley, United Nations Mine Action Service, tel.:  +1 212 963 4632, e-mail:  buckleya@un.org; Peter Smerdon, UNICEF, tel.:  +1 212 303 7984, e-mail:  psmerdon@unicef.org; and Mariana Gonzalez Migueles, UNDP, tel.:  +1 212 906 5317, e-mail:  mariana.gonzalez@undp.org.  Please visit the United Nations Mine Action Team’s website at www.mineaction.org.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.