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International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

Every year, April 4 is celebrated globally as the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.  The day was designated by the UN General Assembly in December of 2005, and yearly celebrations take place all around the world to remind the public on the importance of eradicating landmines as an indiscriminate deadly weapon.

 

Landmines are a problem in around 70 countries in the world, where civilians are still in danger of being maimed or killed by the devices.  Over the last several years, the number of fatal landmine victims–many of them children– has fallen to about 5,000 a year.  While a main focus of the day is the removal of mines from fields, roads, and forests, this awareness day also seeks to promote  “mine action” – which includes efforts by the international community to prohibit the use of cluster munitions in times of conflict, as well as address the needs of the mine victims, while educating those who might be potentially harmed, physically or otherwise, by such weapons.    The Mines Advisory Group is a leading international nonprofit working with men, women, and children affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) to help them overcome the difficulties of the accident and rebuild their lives after the conflict is over.  MAG is also organizing a series of events in observance of the day.         

 

At the international government level, two treaties – the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty (commonly known as the Ottawa Convention) and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions – have been very successful at reducing the risk of these weapons among individuals and communities worldwide.  Hundreds and hundreds of square miles have been swept and cleared so far, but 60 countries and 6 areas worldwide still remain contaminated with cluster munitions.  While 35 countries haven't signed and 86 countries still haven’t ratified the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (including the United States, China, and Russia), landmine use appears to be declining.   Today, Syria is the only country reported to have been using antipersonnel mines in 2012.  

 

The day is celebrated through a range of events organized by national and international agencies and nonprofit organizations, including equipment demonstrations, photo exhibits, film screenings, and community chats.  One of the most notable campaigns is “Lend Your Leg” co-organized by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).  The campaigners call for everyone to roll up a pant leg or sleeve as a simple gesture of solidarity with landmine victims. 

 

The UN’s E-Mine, the Mine Action Gateway, features information on programs, news, issues, and resources related to landmines and ERWs.  Click here to visit the website of UNMAS, the United Nations Mine Action Service, a division of UN Peacekeeping with multiple international landmine and cluster munitions programs operating around the world.

 

Check out our media gallery to learn more about the organizations working to save lives and remove landmines and ERWs from the global landscape.