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UN meeting on mine clearance. 'A hopeful sign'

04-07-1995 News Release 27

 In one of the first global governmental responses to the humanitarian crisis caused by landmines, the United Nations will convene an International Meeting on Mine Clearance in Geneva from 5 to 7 July 1995. ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga, who will address the meeting on Thursday 6 July, welcomes this move as a hopeful sign that the international community has begun to take seriously the moral, political and financial responsibility it bears for the appalling suffering and damage already wrought by landmines. The ICRC urges the participants to recognize that the results of the Mine Clearance Meeting will be greatly devalued unless bold action is taken to prohibit anti-personnel mines at the forthcoming Vienna Review Conference of the 1980 UN Weapons Convention.  

The ICRC stresses the need for vastly increased efforts to clear the world of the 110 million mines already in place and for the imposition of a total ban on anti-personnel mines at the Vienna Conference (25 September-13 October 1995). Each year, 20 times more mines are laid than are removed, and two to five decades are added to the estimated 1,100 years it will take to clear existing mines.

Since 1985 the ICRC has treated some 140,000 war casualties, of whom one in five was a mine victim, and produced over 80,000 artificial limbs, mostly for mine amputees.

This week's meeting will seek pledges for the UN Voluntary Fund for Mine Clearance. A variety of technical panels will focus simultaneously on the training, management and education needed for mine clearance operations, the development of new clearance technologies, and means of protecting the civilian population. It is expected that the meeting will be addressed by ministers for foreign affairs and development and will bring together UN, national and non-governmental clearance experts from around the world. The ICRC Medical Division will contribute to a panel presentation on the treatment and rehabilitation of mine victims.