Three nations that continue to stockpile mines should ratify the Mine Ban Treaty immediatelyADDIS ABABA, 27 November 2004. - UNICEF’s new Goodwill Ambassador, Danny Glover, on his first visit to Ethiopia, today called on the three nations that continue to stockpile anti-personnel mines, to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty immediately.
The top three nations that remain outside the treaty are China, with a stockpile of 110 million anti-personnel mines; Russia with 50 million and the United States with 10.4 million.
After visiting the war ravaged Eritrean-Ethiopian border, Danny Glover applauded the Ethiopian Government for taking the “first bold steps” to ratify the treaty and encouraged it to speed up the process. So far there are 143 countries that have fully ratified the treaty. The harsh reality of the lethal legacy of war hit home the Hollywood star this week when he met and listened to the stories of several children in the Zelambessa region, who had been maimed by mines. At the Addis Tesfa primary school in Tigray supported by UNICEF, young boys and girls told how some had lost friends, other limbs and one boy had lost his eye in a landmine explosion. As many as 364,000 people from Tigray and Afar were displaced by the war.
“It is the most painful thing to see how young children become collateral damage of wars, but when peace treaties are signed landmines do not respect any of these accords. And as long as these silent killers linger after wars, children will never know peace” said Danny Glover at a UNICEF press conference today.
His visit to Ethiopia comes the day before the Nairobi Summit for a Mine Free World, the first review conference on the implementation and progress of the treaty which came into force in 1999. The landmine ban treaty gives countries 10 years to rid their countries of landmines completely. Since the treaty four million anti-personnel mines have been destroyed in demining activities world wide and funding for Mine Action, which includes Mine Risk Education, Victim Assistance and the destruction of stockpiles has increased by eighty percent.
“This shows very clearly that a great deal has been done and the treaty is indeed working. Much more needs to be done though as 10 years is a long time and thousands can and do die each year. So for this reason comprehensive mine risk education programmes must be strengthened to ensure that in the time that it takes to complete this process, children need to learn how to protect themselves and others. Children are at most at risk as they herd animals and do other tasks in the field and mainly because of their natural curiosity” said Bjorn Ljgungqvist, UNICEF’s Representative in Ethiopia.
UNICEF has central to its mandate the rights and protection of children affected by conflict. It also assists governments worldwide in the campaign against landmines. In the past five years UNICEF’s Mine Risk Education programmes have expanded from 10 to 34 countries in the most mine contaminated countries.
At least 550 mine incidents were reported in Ethiopia between 1998 and 2003. Demining requires huge funding: it takes $3 to lay a mine but $1000 to remove a mine according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
UNICEF assist governments worldwide in the campaign for universal ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty by advocating for the destruction of landmines, by ensuring that new landmines are not procured or laid and clearing up explosive remnants of war.
For further information, photographs, videos please contact:
Sarah Crowe, Media Officer for sub-Saharan Africa, +27 83 402 9812, email@example.com
Beatrice Karanja, Communications Officer Ethiopia, +254 72 220 5482, firstname.lastname@example.org
Indrias Getachew, Assistant Communications Officer, +251 144 4364, email@example.com
Fact sheet: Children and landmines [PDF]