Towards a mine free world - Europe
Some 11 countries in Europe (Western, Central Europe and the Balkans) are affected by anti-personnel mines. Several Balkan countries are severely affected as a result of the recent armed conflicts. However, the long-term legacy of anti-personnel mine contamination is also apparent in this region, where some countries are still removing anti-personnel mines laid during the Second World War.
Bosnia & & Herzegovina
The anti-personnel mine problem in Europe is a result of different armed conflicts, some recent, but others dating back several decades. In recent years, anti-personnel mines have caused hundreds of deaths and injuries in Europe each year.
However, numbers hav e decreased significantly. This is largely due to the end of the use of these weapons, as well as to mine risk education and mine clearance activities since the end of the armed conflicts in the Balkans.
The mine-affected European states finance a substantial amount of their own national mine action activities. In addition, financing of mine action activities has been forthcoming from major donors , including the European Union and individual European countries, Canada, the United States, Japan and the United Nations. Many European countries, as well as the European Union, are also among the major donors to mine action in other parts of the world.
Most European States have strongly supported the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines since its negotiation and adoption, and today only two European countries are not parties to the treaty ( Poland and Finland ).
Demining is underway in most of the European mine-affected countries. The most heavily affected European countries have recently put in place national mine action plans.
The challenge for the coming years will be to ensure that that the human and financial resources are available to complete the plans in accordance with the deadlines established in the Conv ention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines.
Thanks to a considerable investment in mine risk education, particularly in the countries that have only recently become affected by mines, awareness of the risks is considered to be relatively high among the population in many of the mine-affected European countries. Yet, too many accidents still occur because people have to take risks in order to earn a livelihood or carry out other necessary tasks. The focus of mine risk education activities in these countries has therefore shifted from informing people of the danger to supporting the affected populations through risk reduction initiatives .
While the health care structures in the European mine-affected countries are comparatively well equipped to provide care for mine victims, long-term physical and psychological rehabilitation is still inadequate in many cases. Economic reintegration remains the main challenge, due to the general lack of employment opportunities for disabled people, exacerbated in some mine-affected European countries by high unemployment and weak national economies that are still recovering from war.
It is imperative that funding levels for mine action remain high in the coming years to ensure that mine clearance can be completed as planned and support for mine victims is enhanced.
To ensure that anti-personnel mines are definitively eliminated in the region, those few European countries that are not yet parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines should be encouraged to adhere to it.