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Landmines: ICRC helps organize first Arab seminar on mines

20-04-2000 News Release 00/14

A seminar on landmines and their impact on development in the Arab world was held on 9April at the Cairo headquarters of the League of Arab States. The seminar, which brought together some 150 officials from a number of Arab countries, as well as international experts and representatives of leading local and international NGOs, was held under the League's auspices and organized by the ICRC's Cairo delegation in conjunction with local and regional groups, chief among them Egypt's National Centre for Middle East Studies.

For three days the participants reviewed the political, legal and historical aspects of the widespread presence of landmines in the Arab world; their effect on economic, social and urban development; their military and strategic dimensions; and the problems they pose from a humanitarian and medical standpoint.

Two ICRC representatives spoke about the organization's position on and activities in connection with landmines. They presented current international humanitarian law on the issue and explained what " mine awareness " work amounts to in practice.

The former commander of Canadian land forces spoke on military strategy and the alternatives to anti-personnel landmines, focusing on the outcome of the " Friend or Foe? " study commissioned by the ICRC in 1996.

The seminar ended with an appeal to Arab countries to take detailed action to cope with the problem of landmines. The participants urged the international community to provide assistance in this regard. The seminar also called for community-based awareness campaigns and greater help for landmine victims.