News / Africa

UN Calls for Elimination of Landmines, War Leftovers

A former pro-government militia member is helped into a de-mining suit in Belet Weyne, Somalia, in this Nov. 17, 2012 handout photo by African Union-United Nations Information Support Team (AU-UN IST).
A former pro-government militia member is helped into a de-mining suit in Belet Weyne, Somalia, in this Nov. 17, 2012 handout photo by African Union-United Nations Information Support Team (AU-UN IST).
Lisa Schlein
To mark the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the United Nations is calling for the elimination of mines and explosive remnants of war that threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world.

The United Nations reports landmines affect 59 states and six other areas. Besides these weapons of war, the U.N. notes cluster munitions and other remnants of war also are threatening the lives and development prospects of many states.

The U.N. Mine Action Service, or UNMAS, operates in 18 countries to neutralize these threats so people can live in safe communities and rebuild their economies.  The agency notes mine action involves more than removing landmines and explosive weapons of war from the ground.  

It also makes it possible for peacekeepers to carry out patrols, humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance and for ordinary people to once again work in their fields without fear of being blown up.

UNMAS Director Agnes Marcailliou said UNMAS carries out de-mining operations in Mali, Somalia, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and other countries. She said it supports peacekeeping operations in the Ivory Coast, or Cote d’Ivoire.

“When we were in Cote d’Ivoire to do mine action traditional, we were called on to help with the stockpiles of ammunitions and weapons they had," she said. "We identified over 50 storage facilities, which were at risk of blowing up or at risk of being looted. We have refurbished over 45 today…and we have come across stockpiles of old landmines they did not know that they had…We have done such a good job in Cote d’Ivoire that Liberia has asked us to assist them and we will start in July.”  

Marcailliou said UNMAS now is looking at the stockpiles and ammunition in the Central African Republic to see how it can keep the citizens out of harm's way.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions reports much progress has been made in reducing the threat to individuals and communities since treaties banning these weapons came into force in 1997 and 2008.   

A French soldier carries mine detection equipment to search for mines outside Gao, Mali, March 9 2013.A French soldier carries mine detection equipment to search for mines outside Gao, Mali, March 9 2013.
x
A French soldier carries mine detection equipment to search for mines outside Gao, Mali, March 9 2013.
A French soldier carries mine detection equipment to search for mines outside Gao, Mali, March 9 2013.
Since then, it says hundreds of square kilometers of previously infested land have been cleared, tens of millions of stockpiles of antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions have been destroyed. Most importantly, it says the number of new casualties has dropped dramatically to fewer than 5,000.

UNMAS Director Marcailliou said Syria and Burma, also known as Myanmar, are two countries still using landmines.

“In Myanmar, which is one of the countries with the highest rate of casualties today on landmines, we have not yet been able to get a sense of the scope and nature of the problem-government included," she said. "And, landmines are being manufactured in Myanmar and they are being used pretty much by everybody today.”

UNMAS employs about 18,000 local people in 18 countries and spends about $250 million a year to carry out its mine action programs. The United Nations says global mine action saves lives, contributes to humanitarian relief efforts, to peace operations and it enables development. It says it remains committed to freeing the world from the threat of mines and other remnants of war.

You May Like

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs