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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.