NEW YORK, 29 July 2002 - UNICEF hailed the Government of Afghanistan for deciding today to accede to the Ottawa Convention banning land mines.
"Afghanistan is one of the most heavily-mined countries in the world, so to commit to this important treaty is a huge step forward," said UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "For the Afghan national authorities to have taken this step so quickly sends a powerful message that the battle against land mines must not be delayed and requires commitment at the highest level."
Bellamy noted that the human cost of mines and unexploded ordnance is especially high for children, whose natural curiosity and need for play space draws them to areas where mines and UXOs pose a threat. She noted that:
(UNICEF has been a leader in supporting the reopening of schools, training teachers, and providing learning materials for children and teaching materials for classrooms.)
The Mine Ban Treaty aims to not only prevent mine production and use, but to address existing mine problems and to assist mine-affected countries and victims of mines.
"We see Afghanistan's acceptance as a huge step forward for a country that has suffered so long from conflict," Bellamy said. "Today's decision is a clear commitment to turning the page on that chapter of history, and to 'building a peaceful future' - the theme of the mine ban workshop currently underway in Kabul."
For further information, please contact:
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York (212) 326-7261
Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Media, Kabul (+ 9251 - 2212948-51 (ext.306)