Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
Today the UN Secretary General stated, “Exactly 30 years ago, civil society activists came together to launch the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Within five years, the Mine Ban Convention was opened for signature.” It received the Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of its work to end the suffering caused by antipersonnel landmines.
The Secretary General also noted that globally, mine action is a success story. Over the past two decades mine action has reached more than 60 countries and territories. In addition to removing weapons, mine action efforts develop local capacity, restore the dignity of survivors and build safe environments for civilians.
However today is still close to Day Zero in Myanmar/Burma. Landmines continue to be laid by combatant groups in many areas of the country, some which have not previously been known to have contamination, and in other areas has contributed to existing contamination.
No systematic national mine clearance programme has been undertaken. Some claimed mine clearance by the Tatmadaw has never occurred, and when it has, is undertaken to unknown standards and without providing information to the public as to which areas might be considered safe, and which not.
In Myanmar today, explosive objects are denying citizens access to livelihoods and causing death and injuries and hindering resettlement efforts – where that is an option.
Landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices disproportionately affect the vulnerable, the forcibly displaced, the dispossessed, and children. They impede peaceful solutions, and are an obstacle to sustainable, inclusive development.
Simply creating awareness of the dangers posed by landmines these deadly devices is not enough, they must be cleared and destroyed to return Myanmar to a peaceful state.
More than 80% of the world’s governments are party to the Mine Ban Treaty, and today the Secretary General of the United Nations has called on Myanmar to accede to the convention, without delay.
We believe no one should become a landmine victim and call on all combatants to immediately and publicly pledge to cease use of antipersonnel landmines and contribute to their clearance in areas they control.