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Mines: ICRC calls for greater efforts to clear anti-personnel mines and help victims

28-11-2005 News Release 05/68

Geneva/Zagreb (ICRC) - The annual meeting of the 147 States party to the Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines opened today in Zagreb, Croatia with a call from the vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for governments to devote more effort and resources to clearing mined areas and ensuring mine victims have access to the lifelong assistance they need.

Addressing some seven hundred representatives of governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations, Jacques Forster cautioned that a false sense of complacency is threatening progress. " Although the landmine crisis is not as visible today as it was ten years ago, it has lost none of its urgency, " he said. " We may have slowed the pace of destruction caused by anti-personnel mines, but we are still far from ending it. "

Also attending the meeting on behalf of the ICRC is the director of its physical rehabilitation centre in Kabul, Najmuddin Najumuddin, himself a mine survivor. " Physical rehabilitation, including artificial limbs and other appliances such as wheelchairs and crutches, is crucial to helping mine survivors and other disabled people resume work and integrate socially, " he said. The Convention is the first international treaty to not only ban a weapon but also require care and assistance for its victims.

A decade after the end of the conflicts that devastated much of South-East Europe, the region continues to suffer the effects of landmines. Thousands of square kilometres of contaminated land remain unusable and thousands of mine survivors struggle to rebuild their lives. All States of the region are party to the Convention, which means they have committed themselves to protecting present and future generations from the death, mutilation and impoverishment that anti-personnel mines inevitably cause. Those States have made progress in clearing mined land, but the pace will have to pick up significantly if they are to meet the Convention's mine clearance deadlines, the first of which is in 2009.

 

  For further information, please contact:
  Kathleen Lawand, ICRC, tel. +41 76 581 21 17
  Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 217 32 16
  Marcin Monko, ICRC Budapest, tel. + 36 1 212 11 46 47 48