Survivors need social and economic support to avoid life of poverty says UN on International Mine Awareness Day
Ha Noi, 4 April 2008 — As the world marks International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action today, the United Nations called for renewed efforts to support survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war who often face a lack of adequate health care or rehabilitation services. In Viet Nam, it is estimated that between 1975 and 2000 over 42,000 people were killed by landmines and UXO, while a further 62,000 were injured.
“This International Mine Awareness Day…serves as a reminder that without proper support, survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war may face a lifetime of poverty and discrimination,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. “The challenge of protecting the rights and well-being of the nearly half a million landmine survivors must be addressed for decades to come,” he added.
Those injured may require emergency medical care, hospitalization, surgery, long-term health care, prosthetics and physical therapy. Additional medical, social and economic services may be necessary to ensure that both victims and their families are able to live full, productive lives.
According to the Ministry of Defence’s Technology Centre on Unexploded Ordnance and Landmine Disposal (BOMICEN), an estimated 600,000 tons of war-era ordnance remain in the ground throughout Viet Nam, contaminating 6 million hectares of land, or over 21 per cent of Viet Nam’s land surface area. UXO and landmines still cause many deaths and injuries every year in Viet Nam.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) started its UXO and mine risk education activities in Viet Nam in 2002, and since then has raised public awareness about UXO/mine risks and preventive measures through programmes on national and local television and radio stations. Community and school-based mine risk education programmes have also been undertaken in Central provinces including Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.
Coordination of mine action at the provincial level in Quang Tri has improved with UNICEF support. Lessons learnt from this coordination work will be replicated in other highly affected provinces. For these activities UNICEF has received financial assistance from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation (AECI).
In the future, UNICEF will continue to work with the Ministry of Education and Training to assist provinces that are highly affected with UXO/mines on integration of Mine Risk Education into primary school programs. UNICEF will also support Vietnam to adopt international standards for Mine Risk Education and adapt them to the local context.
Many other government and non-governmental organizations are also active in Viet Nam supporting mine action programmes. “Mine action” refers to a range of efforts to clear landmines and explosive remnants of war and to mark and fence off dangerous areas. It also includes assisting victims, teaching people how to remain safe in a mine-affected environment, advocating for universal participation in international treaties related to landmines, explosive remnants of war and their victims, and destroying landmines stockpiled by governments and non-state armed groups.
Internationally, events are planned for April 4 in many countries to raise awareness about landmines, explosive remnants of war and progress toward their eradication. The Secretary-General has called on governments, civil society and the United Nations to foster the legislative, social and economic conditions that enable survivors to realize their rights and be productive members of society. “Mine action-related assistance integrated into broader efforts to ensure respect for the rights of persons with disabilities will also contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, our common vision for a better world in the twenty-first century,” he said.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh An, Child Injury Prevention Section, UNICEF Viet Nam
Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong, UN Communication Office
The Mission of the United Nations in Viet Nam
The United Nations, in partnership with the government and people of Viet Nam, works to ensure that all Vietnamese people enjoy an increasingly healthy and prosperous life with greater human dignity and expanded choices. Collectively and through its individual agencies, the United Nations cares and creates opportunities for the poor and most vulnerable, and for youth, to whom the future belongs.
In accordance with the United Nations Charter and Millennium Declaration, the United Nations advances the principles of equality and social justice, while providing impartial advice, technical expertise, access to global knowledge and local experience to meet Viet Nam's development challenges.