NEWYORK, APRIL 4 – “Peace without mine action is incomplete peace,” the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his message for the International Day for World Mine Awareness which is centred this year on the theme of ‘Needs driven. People centred.’ Guterres urged all Governments to remember landmines and explosive remnants of war when discussing peace agreements or when sending urgent humanitarian aid to conflict zones. “We can strike political deals but people will not be able to go back home”, the Italian Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Inigo Lambertini argued today, addressing the UN press briefing at the New York Headquarters. “Even during the most complicated budgetary periods, Italy has never interrupted its support to UNMAS”, Lambertini recalled.
The Ambassador briefed the press on the International Mine Awareness Day together with UNMAS Director, Agnes Marcaillou, the UN Spokeperson and the Permanent Representative of Afghanistan. Italy is currently President of the Support Group composed by the principal UNMAS donors and is one of the main contributors to the UN agency having donated over 45 million Euros since 2000 to demining actions. Lambertini called upon all governments and the private sector so that the work of UNMAS receive full and adequate support.
Each year, landmines and other explosive hazards kill or maim thousands of people around the world. “Mine action establishes the foundations for lasting recovery and development,” said Mr. Guterres. “No one should have to live in fear of dying even after the fighting stops.”
This year marks 20 years since the creation of the UN Mine Action Service, a collaboration of UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds. Known as UNMAS for short, the entity currently works in 18 countries and territories to save lives and rebuilds communities.
To promote mine action and raise funds for its work, the UN Global Advocate, actor Daniel Craig – aka James Bond – has lent his likeness to a campaign to give away a customized Skyfall Silver 2016 Aston Martin Vantage car. The winner will also have an opportunity to chat with Mr. Craig in a secret location.
In his message for the Day, Mr. Guterres applauded UNMAS for “its leadership, courage and commitment to peace.” He also commended the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action – which brings together representatives from all UN mine-action entities – for its “needs-driven, people centred approach.”
So far, UNMAS and its partners – much of the demining and mine-risk education is carried out by non-governmental organizations and commercial contractors – have cleared and returned 72 per cent of known contaminated land to communities, and cleared 31 hospitals and 35 educations sites, as well as markets and water wells.
To honour this work and raise awareness about eradicating landmines and unexploded ordinance, the UN General Assembly, in 2005, established 4 April as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. (@OnuItalia)