Today is another day to celebrate an international event, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The international celebration was declared by the UN General Assembly on December 8, 2005. It is a call to action, a call for states and relevant organizations with the assistance of the United Nations to rid war-torn countries of explosives and land mines left over by war, remnants that pose threats to the lives, health and safety of civilians and which oftentimes impede the economic and social development of a nation.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines or ICBL, together with Fundacion Arcangeles marks the 14th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty’s entry into force with the 2013 global launch of “Lend Your Leg.” The campaign was a huge success last year. You can join in spreading the awareness about landmines and other explosive devices by rolling up your trouser leg or your sleeves to show your limb today. The program also endeavors to raise funds to help in the recovery and integration process of landmine victims.
Landmines have been used in over 70 countries and each year, over 4,000 people, including children are injured and killed by these mines. These had been placed in lanes, roads, forests and fields, which makes it hazardous to the community and deprive people of land that could otherwise be used for agriculture.
Australia’s Mine Action Strategy for 2010-2014 earmarked $100 million to help in demining several countries, help improve their quality of life, including those who had been victims of these explosive devices. They also ran mine risk educational programs to teach various communities on how to manage their own programs for mine action and reduced the number of injuries and deaths from landmines.
Message of UN Secretary General
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who is in Baku, Azerbaijan delivered a message for the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. He said:
“Eliminating the threat of mines and explosive remnants of war is a crucially
important endeavor that advances peace, enables development, supports nations
in transition and save lives”.
South Sudan, Laos, Colombia, Lebanon, Cambodia and Afghanistan are just some of the countries where the United Nation continues in providing assistance to millions of residents. More help is needed because the mines and other explosives still remain.
Several hundred million dollars have been committed and allocated by the international community to clear vast acres of land in several thousand communities were landmines still pose a constant threat. Millions of people have been helped by this international humanitarian effort. But there is still more work to be done. Burma, Mali and Syria are just some of the countries still facing internal conflict and landmines continue to be used in these areas. The number of casualties is growing.
The Halo Trust, founded on March 9, 1988 is a joint British and American foundation that is non-religious, non-political and non-profit. Its main aim is to remove all traces of unexploded ordnance and landmines in contaminated countries around the world. It recently celebrated its 25th anniversary. It is a foundation that the late Princess Diana championed. And on its 25th anniversary, Prince Harry, her youngest son has taken it upon himself to be a patron of the charity.