Mine action is a key humanitarian challenge, says UN's Ban

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Clearing land contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance is an ongoing challenge in new and re-emerging conflicts. Photo: UN Photo/Tobin Jones

Tackling the lethal hazards posed by landmines and other explosive devices in and around conflict zones is a key humanitarian challenge, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has announced.

In a message released to coincide with the international day for mine awareness, the UN Secretary-General expressed particular concern about the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

He said that the United Nations is working to help affected communities in high-risk environments including South Sudan and Syria, where the aim is for a sustainable peace.

Here's Daniel Johnson in Geneva:

On the international day for mine awareness and assistance in mine action, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's message underlines that it's civilians, not combatants, who are the worst affected by landmines, cluster munitions and improvised explosive devices.

Now in its 11th year, the international day is a reminder to states to take action on mines and explosive remnants of war, in places where they threaten people's lives or hinder development.

The UN chief's message that "Mine Action is Humanitarian Action" is shared by UNMAS, the United Nations Mine Action Service. It's behind a social media campaign using the #MAHA handle.

Here's spokesperson Bruno Donat:

"Landmines kill at least 10 people every day around the world and severely maim countless more, 40 per cent of these casualties are children."

Through the UN, work is ongoing to alleviate the suffering in high-risk environments, and help communities look forward.

This is done by clearing land that's been contaminated with mines and anything else that explodes, as well as telling communities about the risks.

In South Sudan, millions of square metres of land have been made safe in the last year, and in Syria, 14 tonnes of unexploded ordnance have been destroyed since last August.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1″13″

 

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