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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs