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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

New York, 1 April 2015 - Secretary-General's Remarks at the Opening of "more than mines" Exhibit [as prepared for delivery]


This week we observe the tenth International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

The Day was designated by the General Assembly to draw our collective attention to the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war.

The theme for this year – “More than Mines” – reflects the evolution that has taken place over the last decade.

Today, women, girls, boys and men are exposed to an increasingly wide range of explosive hazards.

These include mines, cluster munitions, improvised explosive devices and unsafe and unsecure weapons and ammunition.

This exhibition provides telling examples of the threats that civilians face.

And it shows the vital response the United Nations provides, with pictures and videos from the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Gaza, Haiti, Liberia and Somalia.

In Gaza, the UN Mine Action Service proved once again it is one of the most precious resources of the United Nations.

It deployed, at my request, within four days to support UN staff and the people of Gaza as fighting raged and explosive hazards threatened the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The “More than Mines” exhibit also depicts the threat posed by unsafe and unsecure weapons and ammunition in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.

Unsafe and unsecured stockpiles create a risk of accidental explosion, but are also a potential source of weapons and explosives for those who wish to spoil peace processes.

UNMAS has done great work in these countries in support of securing weapons and ammunition and destroying unserviceable, dangerous or superfluous stockpiles.

This year, I presented UNMAS with the United Nations 21 Award for innovation for the development of a shears system for cutting and destroying weapons, as you will see in the photographs.

The exhibition also illustrates the threat posed by improvised explosive devices.

Ten times more civilians died in Afghanistan last year because of IED attacks than from landmines.

In Mali, civilians and peacekeepers are targeted by these devices every week.

Finally, “More than Mines” shows the training the United Nations is providing in Somalia to African Union soldiers, and national police and military officers, to mitigate this threat.

In the adjacent digital minefield, visitors can experience what people in more than 50 countries face on a daily basis: the trepidation and insecurity of walking through areas contaminated by explosive hazards.

On this International Day, I urge Member States to stay committed to the cause of mine action, through financial contributions and political support.

Much progress has been made towards eradicating anti-personnel landmines.

Over the last ten years, the United Nations has been playing a vital role in freeing the world from the threat of mines and explosive remnants of war, meeting the needs of victims, and ensuring their human rights.

We must build on our achievements.

This is an important year.

I will issue my report on assistance in mine action, and the General Assembly will debate assistance in mine action.

This will provide an opportunity to recognize that mine action is indeed “More than Mines”.

Let me close by welcoming you to this exhibition.

Thank you.


Statements on 1 April 2015