International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is observed on April 4th to raise awareness about landmines, explosive remnants of war, and progress toward their eradication. The explosive remnants of war continue to kill or injure thousands of people every year. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of mine action and remind the population of the danger that landmines pose all over the world.
The Mine Ban Treaty was signed by over 160 countries in 1997, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel mines and provides for their destruction. The Treaty has brought about a dramatic reduction in the use of landmines. But there is still a long way to go. Mines are still present in over 60 countries, threatening the lives of people and restricting them from the use of land for agriculture and housing purpose.
In 2005, December 8th the United Nations Mine Actions Service (UNMAS) declared that on the 4th of April each year, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action would be observed in order to establish, foster, and develop mine-action capacities in post-conflict areas. The day calls to those states that have not yet signed the Treaty to do so, and mobilize resources to help the countries affected.
Some 60 countries around the world are still contaminated by landmines and thousands of civilians continue to live with the daily threat of being injured or killed. These weapons indiscriminately target men, women, and children. Victims of landmines are often deprived of their independence and, due to their economic and medical needs, risk marginalization within their communities. Mine action ensures that landmines and explosive hazards in war-torn areas are found and destroyed, making possible the delivery of humanitarian assistance — so that people and supplies reach those most in need.
UN Mine Action Service Director Maxwell Gaylard said “We must keep the cause high on the global political agenda if we are to maintain the momentum achieved toward a world free from landmines and explosive remnants of war“.
Mine clearance prevents an indiscriminate weapon from causing harm and havoc long after conflicts have ended, while also creating jobs, transforming danger zones into productive land, and setting societies on course for lasting security. UN development agencies are working to connect mine action with broader development plans to promote agricultural production, strengthen infrastructure, improve water supply and provide better education and health services.
How is the Day celebrated?
Various activities and awareness-raising events are held on this day every year which include press conferences, photography shows, film screenings, community chats are organized. The day is meant for raising awareness about landmines and progress towards their destruction. The day is not only related to the eradication of mines but also the delivery of assistance is crucial for the residents of affected areas.
With multiple activities on and around the day, campaigners urged their governments to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty and to complete obligations under the treaties.
The Indian campaign also organizes meetings focused on the mines laying on the border between India and Pakistan. Civil society members called for regional cooperation to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty together so that no state felt threatened by another.
The day calls upon the countries in treating the victims of these inhumane and indiscriminate weapons and continue advocating for a world free of landmines.
You can get involved and donate to the U.N. Mine Action Work by visiting unmas.org.
According to the UN, in 2021 the COVID-19 challenges will require perseverance. Work will continue, landmines and explosive ordnance will be cleared, exit strategies and capacity development of national partners will carry on. The mine action community will continue to adapt. The United Nations will ensure to carry forward progress towards a world free from the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance.