Mine Action Cannot Wait: the dangers of unexploded ordnance

Children play near a landmine warning sign in New Village Border, Cambodia. Children play near a landmine warning sign in New Village Border, Cambodia. David Longstreath

The global commitment to International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 

Every year, the international community marked International Mine Awareness and Action Day on the 4th of April.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres affirmed that "Peace provides no security when roads and fields are mined when unexploded ordnance threatens the return of displaced populations, and when children find and play with shiny objects that explode."

The slogan "Mine Action Cannot Wait" aims to highlight the urgency of moving forward with the clearing of unexploded landmines, threatening both the populations of states currently engaged in armed conflict and civilians living in peacetime in territories where bloody wars had taken place decades earlier. Some landmines have shapes and colors that can attract the attention of children, ending up injuring or killing them. Moreover, landmines compromise the use of lands that could be used for agriculture or the construction of essential services.

In 1997, the International Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, Sale and Destruction of Anti-Personnel Mines was held, with 164 countries joining the treaty. For instance, in Ukraine, despite the ban on the production and use of the devices, after 12 months since the war began, it is estimated that a quarter of the territory is contaminated with landmines, inevitably contaminating the production and export of Europe's breadbasket.

In recent decades, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has played a key role in protecting civilians from unexploded mines, and as of the turn of the last century, more than 55 million landmines have been removed and deaths related to them have dropped significantly however, there is still a long road ahead.


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By Aleksander Del Prete

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