[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]
This year’s global commemoration of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action will focus on the needs of the ever-growing number of landmine survivors and other victims and celebrate the vigorous movement towards the United Nations' vision of a world free from the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
The day is observed annually on 4 April in accordance with a 2005 General Assembly resolution. (A/RES/60/97).
A list of events scheduled to help raise awareness about landmines, explosive remnants of war, and the efforts to eliminate them is available online. The events taking place around the world include performances, exhibits and demonstrations, and films and are expected to occur in places like Cambodia, Sudan, Tajikistan and Western Sahara.
In New York, a photography exhibition will open on Friday, 3 April, at 6 p.m. in the Northeast Gallery of the Visitors' Lobby. This exhibition, called “Living with Mines,” features work by two renowned photographers – Gervasio Sanchez from Spain and Arne Hodalic from Slovenia.
The photographs depict the cruelness of landmines, but also the strength and dignity of landmine survivors and communities who must live their daily lives with these weapons. The message of these images is clear: landmines have no place in any civilized society.
The work of Mr. Sanchez explores the impact of landmines upon the lives of individuals across the globe.
Mr. Hodalic recently returned from a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo where he documented the tireless work of the United Nations Mine Action Team.
Mr. Dmitry Titov, Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, will open the exhibition along with Mr. Kiyo Akasaka, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, and permanent representatives from Spain and Slovenia.
There will be a live musical performance by singer/songwriter Lucy Woodward.
Describing his travels around the world in his message issued for the Day, the Secretary-General said he has seen the devastation caused by landmines first hand.
“Conditions may vary from Iraq to Sudan, from Lebanon to Zimbabwe, from Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. What doesn’t change is the threat to life and limb,” the SG remarked.
He went on to say that his “fervent hope is that the world will one day be free from the threats caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war. But it will take concerted collective efforts on all fronts to realize this goal. On this International Day, let us renew our commitment to carrying out this life-saving work.”
Top mine action officials met in Geneva
The top mine action officials of 40 mine-affected countries, four United Nations organizations, dozens of nongovernmental organizations, as well as representatives of donor countries and commercial demining companies met in Geneva between 23-27 March for their annual gathering to review progress in eliminating landmines and explosive remnants of war, accelerating demining through new technologies and efforts to build national institutions to manage mine action programs.
This annual event is the world’s largest gathering of high-level mine action experts and was co-sponsored by the United Nations and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD).
Among other items, the meeting focused on practical approaches to improving operational and programmatic knowledge, strengthening linkages to other sectors, assessing the impact of mine action on emergency and early recovery responses, and the challenges of resource mobilization efforts.
Japan makes multi-million yen contribution to aid mine action
In Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo mines and especially unexploded ordnance are among the most pernicious effects of years of fighting.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to benefit from a generous Japanese contribution focusing on improving the living conditions of people facing the daily danger of mines and explosive remnants of war.
Japan’s contribution of 762 million Japanese yen was officially presented to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in early March.
During 2008, Japan was the second largest donor to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action, which UNMAS manages.
The funds presented by Japanese Ambassador Mr. Yukio Takasu will enable the implementation of two new projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Minefield and Explosive Remnants of War Survey and Rapid Response and Developing and implementing a Victim Assistance Strategy.
In Chad, the funds will help the country move closer to its goal of clearing all mined areas within 10 years of ratification of the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty. Chad is one of the top ten countries most affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war in the world.