On 9 October, in Geneva, some 50 representatives of Member States, UN entities and non-governmental organizations met to discuss the establishment of a Geneva-based humanitarian hub for mine action during an informal round table organized by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).
The objective of the roundtable was to draw on the unique perspectives of key stakeholders to obtain concise and tangible inputs on how UNMAS can better support the humanitarian community. UN colleagues providing preliminary remarks included Mr. Rashid Khalikov, Director of OCHA Geneva and Ms. Louise Aubin, from the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, in her capacity as Coordinator of the Global Protection Cluster.
Discussions were frank and open and touched on several key topics such as the relationship between humanitarian mine action and humanitarian action; linking mine action to protection and the momentum gathered by mine action within the Global Protection Cluster; the issue of victim assistance in the field; ways to improve coordination in emergencies in particular.
Ambassador Julio Herraiz of Spain asked colleagues to further look into victim assistance with a gender perspective, while Ambassador Urs Schmid of Switzerland expressed his appreciation for this initiative, which reinforces the important links between the humanitarian and disarmament communities in Geneva.
Participants included representatives from OCHA, ODA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNMAS, the European Union, Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, the Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Mozambique, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey and several humanitarian NGOs.
The feedback collected, verbally and via a questionnaire, is being compiled and analysed. “Mine action is indeed a precondition for protection in many cases, and UNMAS, the coordinator of mine action within the UN system, will strive to further support humanitarian action”, concluded Mr. Bruno Donat, Chief of the UNMAS Geneva office.