|Abdul Malik, 12, puts on his prosthesis at home in Kabul, Afghanistan. Abdul lost his right leg in a landmine explosion when he was seven.|
By Suzanna Dayne
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 4 January 2007 – Nearly nine years after Indonesia first signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the government has finally ratified the convention. The action helped Indonesia join with more than 150 nations that are committed to achieving a mine-free world.
UNICEF and the Jesuit Refugee Service, members of the Indonesian Campaign to Ban Landmines, congratulated the Government and Parliament of Indonesia.
Although Indonesia is not regarded as a mine-affected country, many believe that by signing and ratifying the treaty, the government can set a good example for its neighbours. Since 2005, landmines or other unexploded ordnance have caused casualties in more than a dozen nations in the Asia-Pacific region. Most of the victims have been civilians.
“Indonesia is a vast country and plays an important role in the region,” remarked UNICEF Representative in Indonesia Gianfranco Rotigliano. “There are still many countries in Asia that have not signed the treaty. It is hoped that Indonesia can use its influence to encourage its neighbours to sign on to this very important initiative that will ultimately save the lives of thousands of children.”
|Nawaf Thamer, 11, lies in a hospital bed in Basra, Iraq. He lost his left eye and right hand in a landmine explosion.|
Devastating effect on children
According to the ‘Landmine Monitor Report 2006’, published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, between 15,000 and 20,000 people – at least 20 per cent of them children – are killed or maimed by landmines and other explosive remnants each year.
Landmines have an even more devastating effect on children than adults, because children are smaller and closer to the ground and are naturally inclined to play with found objects.
“We don’t want to see more children hurt and maimed by landmines,” declared Indonesian Member of Parliament Djoko Susilo. “Indonesia wants it to stop so we can see a better world in which children need not suffer.”
The Mine Ban Treaty was signed in December 1997 by 122 nations in Ottawa, Canada. It bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of all anti-personnel landmines. China, Russia and the United States are among the 40 countries that have not yet signed the treaty.
Electronic Mine Information Network
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