NEW YORK, 28 March 200 7 - Journalists are invited to events here and other cities on April 4, which the UN General Assembly has declared the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The events will raise awareness about landmines, explosive remnants of war, and progress toward their eradication.
Landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to kill or injure as many as 15,000 people a year. The overwhelming majority are civilians who trigger these devices years or even decades after a conflict ends. In some countries, such as Afghanistan, the majority of victims are under the age of 18.
“Events on April 4 will help renew public and media interest in mine action,” says UN Mine Action Service Director Maxwell Gaylard. “We must keep the cause high on the global political agenda if we are to maintain the momentum achieved toward a world free from landmines and explosive remnants of war,” he adds.”
Mine action programmes and the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty or “Ottawa Convention,” contributed to a reduction in the annual number of casualties from an estimated 26,000 10 years ago to between 15,000 and 20,000 today. “The current casualty rates are dramatically lower, but they’re still unacceptably high,” Gaylard says. “We need to redouble our efforts to bring the rate down. And we need to do more for the survivors.”
Fourteen United Nations agencies, programmes, departments and funds provide mine action services in dozens of countries. Mine action includes finding and destroying landmines and explosive remnants of war, assisting victims, teaching people how to remain safe in a mine-affected environment, advocating for universal participation in international treaties like the Ottawa Convention, and destroying stockpiled landmines.
To commemorate the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action in New York, the United Nations, on its North Lawn on 4 April, will host a mock minefield and free demining demonstrations by the Humanitarian Demining Training Center, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Inside the UN visitors lobby in the General Assembly Building at 1 p.m. the same day, a top UN official will open Enduring Fear, a month-long exhibition of photographs by Charlotte Oestervang and Bobby Neel Adams about landmines, explosive remnants of war and the people affected by them. Landmines, cluster munitions and other devices, along with the actual mine-ban treaty, will also be on display that day through the end of April.
Next to the photography exhibition, UNICEF will host free mine-risk education workshops for the public on April 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Visitors should enter the grounds through the United Nations’ public entrance on 1st Avenue at East 46th Street.
For a list of all events worldwide, visit the UN Mine Action Team’s website at www.mineaction.org.