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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More