NEW YORK – April 4th is the United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, which provides an opportunity for the world to reflect on both the progress made and the challenges that remain in clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance.
The vision of the United Nations is a world free of the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war, where individuals and communities live in a safe environment conducive to development and where the needs of victims are met.
Twelve United Nations Departments and Offices of the Secretariat, specialized agencies, funds and programs play a role in mine action programs in 30 countries.
Except for Columbia in South America, the Western Hemisphere is free of mines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO). The situation is markedly different for many countries in Africa and the Middle East. As with poverty, hunger, sanitation, and illiteracy, the abundance of the UXOs are in countries within or near the 10/40 window.
April 4th is for Awareness
Since the day is set aside to raise awareness, here is a partial list of countries where mines and UXO are problematic and some insights into the impact of eradication efforts.
- In 2017 some 2,100 Afghans were killed or injured by landmines (including improvised landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), up from a historical low of 432 casualties in 2012.
- Workers have cleared about 18 million items of ERW and 730,000 anti-personnel mines (APM).
- 10,275 Anti-Personnel mines, 3,237 Anti-Tank mines, and 83,774 unexploded ordnances have been found and destroyed.
- 760 mine victims have received assistance.
- In Darfur, workers have disposed of 39,784 ERW and the destruction of 2,286,968 small arms ammunition.
- Workers have cleared 37 million square meters of 44,376 devices, including 748 IEDs.
- Workers have destroyed about 7,300 landmines and ERW over the past decade.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Workers have rounded up and destroyed 5,351 ERW, 474 weapons, and nearly 300,000 unused rounds of small arms ammunition.
The West Bank
- 149 aircraft bombs with an explosive value of 29 tons have been neutralized and destroyed.
- 8,000 UXO and nearly the same number of landmines have been destroyed over an area of 136 million acres.
These are just a few of the regions in the world where personal safety is endangered by the ravages and remnants of war. Our awareness needs to extend to the understanding that once a war is over, another war must begin. We need to make war-torn countries safe again.
- United Nations, International Mine Awareness Day 4 April
- UNMAS, International Mine Awareness Day April 4, 2018
- Mine Action, E-MINE, The UN Mine Action Gateway
- Relief Web, UN International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action