Handicap International calls for a renewed effort to rid the world of landmines.
London, 4th April 2012: Handicap International is calling for a renewed effort to rid the world of landmines, to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness taking place today. The organisation is urging all States to join the Mine Ban Treaty immediately and put an end to the scourge of these indiscriminate weapons, which continue to kill and injure civilians long after a conflict is over.
It is no coincidence that many of the world’s poorest countries are also those worst-affected by landmines. In addition to the terrible suffering they inflict on their victims, mines are a major obstacle to social and economic development.
Since the Mine Ban Treaty became law 13 years ago, 80 per cent of the world’s countries (159 states) have banned landmines. This has resulted in millions of landmines being removed from the ground and destroyed, and a sharp decrease in landmine casualties.
But despite this progress, there were still 4,191 new casualties in 2010 recorded by Landmine Monitor; around one person every two hours. This is not to mention the hundreds of thousands of survivors worldwide, who are still struggling to cope with the terrible effects of landmine injuries and are often unable to access the support they need in countries where healthcare provision is scarce.
In order to protect civilians and help them rebuild their lives, Handicap International has been working for 30 years in mine-affected countries, clearing unexploded weapons, educating communities about the risks, and providing rehabilitation and support to victims.
“It is no coincidence that many of the world’s poorest countries are also those worst-affected by landmines. In addition to the terrible suffering they inflict on their victims, mines are a major obstacle to social and economic development, preventing the cultivation of land and limiting the movement of people and goods long after conflicts have ended. That’s why Handicap International continues to take a lead role in the fight against these indiscriminate weapons by clearing mines and supporting the victims” said Tom Shelton of Handicap International UK.
Many people think of landmines as a problem that has been solved, but the weapons are still being used in conflicts around the world. In 2011, landmines were used extensively by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya. Handicap International intervened quickly to protect civilians, and currently has teams on the ground raising awareness, particularly among children, about the risks posed by landmines, and conducting demining operations in areas around Tripoli and Sirte.
Frédéric Maio, Handicap International’s Libya programme manager explains: “After the fighting ends, the first thing people want to do is to return home. People returning to areas where fighting has taken place are faced by danger on all sides. Many civilians unwittingly put themselves at risk.”
Despite the huge progress made, 37 states have yet to renounce antipersonnel mines and join the Mine Ban Treaty. Today, on 4thApril, thousands of people in more than 70 countries will be taking part in ‘Lend Your Leg’ – a global day of action co-ordinated by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to call for an end to landmines.
Kasia Derlicka, ICBL Director, said: “With this simple action of rolling up your trouser leg we want to remind the world landmines are still present and devastating lives. We want global decision makers to take real actions to ban the weapon, to clear all land and to assist all victims. We want a world free of mines and we know this can be achieved within years and not decades.”
Notes for the Editor
Please contact Handicap International for interviews, high resolution images and case studies.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, we take action and raise awareness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. Handicap International is a
co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Cluster Munition Coalition. www.handicap-international.org.uk
About the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a unique global network in some 100 countries, working for a world free of antipersonnel landmines. Founded in 1992, the ICBL celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In 1997, the ICBL received the Nobel Peace Prize together with its founding coordinator Jody Williams for its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty. For more information please visit: www.icbl.org/20
Lend Your Leg: to find out more about this year’s global campaign, visit: www.lendyourleg.org
Landmine Monitor: For statistics on the global landmine problem, and to view a detailed breakdown of the situation in each country, please visit: www.the-monitor.org
About the Mine Ban Treaty: Adopted in 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force on 1st March 1999. The treaty comprehensively bans all antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years, requires destruction of mines already in the ground within 10 years, and urges extensive programs to assist the victims of landmines. For more information please visit: www.icbl.org/Treaty