Perseverance, Partnership, and Progress
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance is observed on April 4 each year. The observation aims at raising awareness about landmines and progress toward their elimination and being observed from 2006. It aims to enhance capabilities to diffuse the mines and explosive remnants of war, especially in those counties torn in wars for long. More than 160 states are party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The UN is working towards getting the nations to accede to the Convention to do so without delay. Unattended mines are a threat to the civilian population’s safety, health, and lives, including peacekeepers and humanitarians. United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been working in a mission mode to deliver humanitarian assistance and support the return of the people displaced by the planting of mines.
Landmine Monitor Report indicates that as many as 84 countries were affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Together they kill or maim (permanently disable due to loss of part of the body) around 15-20,000 people, including many children. The affected population are those who which is vulnerable, the forcibly displaced. The commitment and contributions of these people are praiseworthy. Information like the building of a new Safe Ground in Cambodia, Chile declaring its territory mine-free, is a path adopted by all the counties. Nations have announced their intention to clear their territories of antipersonnel landmines by the end of this decade. Even though the Viet Nam war officially ended more than 45 years ago, landmines and explosive contamination still pollute vast swaths of territory.
Today, on the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, we reflect on how far we have come in raising awareness of the dangers posed by landmines and recommit to our target of a mine-free world.António Guterres
A land mine is an explosive concealed just under the surface of the ground and is designed to be detonated by pressure or proximity of a vehicle or person. These mines are designed to destroy or disable enemy targets. Land mines are one of the deadliest legacies of the 20th century, as they were used extensively in warfare. Most land mines were planted during the World War era, at times, as high as thousands being planted in very small areas. According to one estimate, there are currently about 100 million active land mines located in 70 countries.
Land mines can be broken down into two categories: Anti-personnel mines and Anti-tank mines. The basic principle for the two types of mines remains the same, the differences being the intensity of damage produced and the pressure required for detonation. An anti-tank mine can blow up whole tanks or trucks, along with the people inside it. Landmines are easy to make and cheap, making them easy to deploy, especially for those rebelling against the governments.
One landmine can wreck a community: kill a father, a mother, and all too often a child.
Signatories of the Mine Ban Treaty aims not to use, produce, stockpile or trade-in antipersonnel land mines. One hundred sixty-two countries have joined the Treaty. Thirty-six countries, including China, Russia, and the US, are not a party to the Convention. These countries together are holdoing tens of millions of stockpiled antipersonnel mines.
In the recent past, Afghanistan has maximum casualties caused by mines staggering more than 28,000. Countries like Colombia, Cambodia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Yemen, accounting for ~5000 victims. India has seen around ~4000 victims, the majority of them belonging to security and police personnel.
With passing of time, the location of landmines is often forgotten, and continue to be functional for many decades, causing further damage, injury, and death. There is a need to focus on the health and psychosocial well-being of mine victims through medical rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. Despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID pandemic, people steadfastly continued their efforts in clearing and destroying hundreds of thousands of explosives, landmines, unexploded bombs and improvised explosive devices. Kudos to all those who made it happen and for their commitment.
Humans, what you have done to yourselves! Using all the intelligence to cause destruction. That too to innocent people. It is time to wake up and Complete the work, Rid of the world of deadly landmines.
The pandemic caused by COVID-19 is a reminder to humanity, if it has to survive, a concerted effort is required to be together, pool all the resources to bring cheer and survive. Can we hope that the realisation is not far and all would come together to: