Mine action is critical for an effective humanitarian response in conflict and post-conflict situations. This is a central message of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
Yet in far too many places around the world, new or reemerging conflicts are creating yet another legacy of explosive hazards, such as landmines, cluster munitions and improvised explosive devices. I am particularly concerned about the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
The United Nations is working to alleviate the suffering of affected communities in high-risk environments.
In South Sudan, for example, more than half a million people have received risk education over the last 12 months; 14 million square meters of contaminated land have been cleared; 3,000 km of road made safe; and 30,000 mines and explosive remnants of war destroyed. This has enabled the delivery of food and water and the safe movement of those fleeing fighting.
Even in the extremely challenging context of Syria, mine action actors are achieving some important life-saving results.
Last year, more than 2 million Syrians received risk education in schools and communities, and more than 5,400 people received physical rehabilitation services. Since August 2015, 14 tonnes of unexploded ordnance have been destroyed.
But millions of Syrian people continue to face this deadly threat every day. There is an urgent need for increased support as well as full, sustained and unhindered access for all mine action activities.
Mine action is an investment in humanity. It helps nurture peaceful societies, where those in need can receive aid, and refugees and internally displaced persons can safely return home, and children can go to school.
It provides the safe space to undertake development and reconstruction activities, and lay the foundations of sustainable peace.
The first-ever World Humanitarian Summit will convene in Istanbul next month. My report in advance of the Summit highlights the unacceptable impact of mines and explosive remnants of war on civilians.
It also stresses the need for States to become parties to, and implement and comply with, relevant international humanitarian instruments.
I am pleased that, in December 2015, the General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution underlining the need for mine action to remain at the top of the international agenda, especially in humanitarian crises.
On this International Day, let us work together to advance the goal of a world free of the threat of mines and explosive remnants of war.
Source: UNITED NATIONS