THE STATUS OF HUMANITARIAN MINE ACTION (MINE AWARENESS DAY 2020)Currently, the world is facing an unprecedented crisis of global health. As governments rush to protect communities and control the COVID-19 outbreak, existing vulnerabilities and weakened coping mechanisms in communities contaminated with, Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) raise additional concerns for health and welfare. Restrictions on mobility and access to infrastructures are reminiscent of the long-term negative consequences of explosive ordnances on the daily lives and livelihoods of communities worldwide.
While peace agreements may put an end to violence and hostilities Landmines and ERW can remain for decades to come as an enduring legacy of conflict. With 164 countries now signed on and implementing the provisions of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), the stigma against landmines is strong. However, at the end of 2019, 59 states remain contaminated by Landmines and ERW, indicating an ongoing need for the world to stand together for mine action.
Global accomplishments in HMA:
In the last five years alone, six states, Algeria, Burundi, Jordan, Mauritania, Montenegro, and Mozambique, have joined the ranks of those declared free of mines. Since the enactment of the APMBC in 1999, a total of more than 2,880 square kilometres of contaminated areas have been cleared worldwide, equating to an area greater than the size of Nairobi, New York City, and Rome combined. In 2018 alone, over 140 square kilometres of land was cleared. DDG’s contributions in 2019 constituted approximately 13% of total global clearance and equated to an area larger than 1,400 football pitches. Beyond clearance operations, DDG also reached to deliver 63,525 Mine Risk Education sessions. Such programming directly benefitted over 1,2 million people, equivalent in size to more than 20% of the population of Denmark.
Over the last two years MAG has cleared more than 131 square kilometres directly benefitting 2.5 million people, almost equal to the entire population in Greater Manchester County. In this period MAG also delivered potentially lifesaving Mine Risk Education to affected communities, reaching 1.8 million people in 15 countries around the globe. Moreover, in line with SIDA guidelines and the aims of Sustainable Development Goals 5 and 16 on gender equality and inclusivity, all DDG and MAG operations have an additional focus on gender inclusivity and creating opportunities for women on the frontlines of HMA.
Ongoing challenges for the HMA sector:
While global statistics paint an optimistic picture of the humanitarian demining sector, a number of challenges prevail in the sector. Despite an increase in the previous year, clearance totals for 2018 still amounted to the third lowest output in more than a decade, reflecting in part continuing economic pressures on mine action operations.
Sustaining operations in countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, presents further challenges due to heightened logistical and safety-related concerns associated with the dynamic nature of ongoing conflict. In conflict zones particularly, the increasing prevalence of improvised mines creates further risks for local populations as well as new challenges to demining teams due to their non-conventional nature.
Finally, since February 2020, Covid-19 has halted many survey and clearance operations. The health, safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is an absolute priority. Moreover, the need to protect communities and do no harm is a factor driving MAG’s and DDG’s decisions to take precaution and follow various health guidelines even in our areas of operations.
This International Mine Awareness is made possible by the collaboration and support from
Sources: Landmine Monitor 2019, Clearing the Mines 2019