Mines continue to threaten

01 May 2009

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UNDP continues to help developing countries to get rid of mines and explosive remnants of war. 

New Horizons - On the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, United Nations officials reminded the world that landmines and explosive remnants of war are continuing to kill or injure thousands of people every year.

Today, as many as 78 nations are affected by landmines and about 85 by explosive remnants of war. There are an estimated 500 thousand landmine and explosive remnants of war survivors today, of whom three-quarters are civilians. 

“Conditions may vary from Iraq to Sudan, from Lebanon to Zimbabwe, from Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “What doesn’t change”, he added, “is the threat to life and limb”.

Meanwhile, mine action workers have continued to risk their lives to eliminate mines in all affected areas.

UNDP is continuing to assist mine-affected countries to clear landmines and explosive remnants of war by helping them to develop national mine-clearing programs.

The organization has been helping national authorities in all areas of mine action, including demining, mine risk education, victim assistance, advocacy, and stockpile destruction through tailored strategic and operational advisory support and training for mine action programme managers.

Beyond removing weapons, mine action means ensuring a safe environment for civilians, developing local capacity and restoring dignity to survivors through job opportunities and other reintegration programmes.

UNDP has ensured that mine action addresses the socio-economic impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war on all development sectors, including agriculture, health, education, water, infrastructure, tourism, and domestic and foreign investment.

Since 1999, more than 4 million antipersonnel mines, 1 million anti-vehicle mines and 8 million items of unexploded ordnance have been cleared. In 2006 alone, over 450 square kilometers of contaminated land was cleared of over 217 thousand antipersonnel mines.

In addition, UNDP has supported States Parties to meet their Mine Ban Treaty obligations by helping them to identify mined areas and develop and implement national plans to address them. For example, UNDP helped Albania develop a plan to complete clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war by 2010, and has, together with implementing partners, assisted Malawi with identifying the extent of its mine problems so it could fulfill its commitments under the treaty.

For more information on Landmines, you can refer to the UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery's Fast Facts or to the UN's E-MINE website.