The United Nations and Demining
From the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to Syria, from Lebanon to Mali the ravages of landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to maim, deform and kill boys and girls, women and men. These devices remain a threat for civilians during conflict and for decades after.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance are an everyday reality for people in over 80 States or areas in the world, with tens of thousands of victims annually, and a real impact on countries’ ability to recover after conflict. A single landmine — or even the fear of its presence — can hold an entire community hostage. Farmers cannot grow crops, refugees fear to return home, and parents live in the horrific knowledge that their children could be killed while at play. The United Nations remains steadfast in its commitment to make a world that is free from this threat.
This year’s commemoration of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action — 4 April — will highlight 20 years of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, with an exhibition in the north-east gallery of the Visitors’ Lobby. For a Mine-Free World is organized by Handicap International, Medico International, Solidarity Service International, the Federal Foreign Ministry of Germany, and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). This multimedia installation includes a miniature mine field, and on 4 April Handicap International will give demining demonstrations throughout the day. An official ceremony will be held at 6 p.m. on 4 April, when the Statement of the Secretary-General will be read, and the Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action will speak alongside the Ambassador of Germany.
Earlier in the day, from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. the national launch of the campaign “Voices from Laos: Clearing Bombs, Protecting Lives”, organized by the United Nations Development Programme and the Permanent Mission of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the United Nations, will take place in the North Lawn Building, Conference Room 2. Marking 40 years since bombing stopped in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, a diverse panel will describe progress achieved and the challenges that remain to clear vast areas of this country.
At the end of 2012, the 14 United Nations entities that work on issues related to mine action agreed upon a new strategy to guide all United Nations mine action work up to 2018. This strategy, available on the renovated United Nations Mine Gateway E-MINE (www.mineaction.org) site will be widely disseminated. Mine Action specialists from UNDP and UNMAS will speak at the daily briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on 4 April.
© 2013 United Nations