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International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action – April 4, 2023

The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is observed on April 4 every year. The day aims to raise awareness about landmines, seek assistance for mine action work, and advance towards removing them. Assisted by the United Nations and other organizations, the campaign calls for the development of national mine-action capacities in nations where mines and explosive remnants of war remain and constitute a serious threat to the safety, health, and lives of civilians. It is also a huge deterrent to social and economic development at the national and local levels.

History of International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was approved by the General Assembly on December 8, 2005. It provides an opportunity for the United Nations Mine Action Service (U.N.M.A.S.) and other organizations to reflect on and raise awareness about landmines, explosive remnants of war, and improvised explosive devices (I.E.Ds), as well as take additional action toward their abolition. For over two decades, this body has been driven by the needs of people affected by landmines and is sensitive to the threat of explosive hazards faced by civilians, peacekeepers, and humanitarians.

The focus of U.N.M.A.S. is on: saving lives; facilitating the deployment of U.N. missions; delivering humanitarian assistance to protect civilians; supporting the voluntary return of internally displaced people and refugees; enabling humanitarian and recovery activities; and advocating for international humanitarian and human rights laws. The five pillars of mine action that the U.N.M.A.S. has are Clearance, Mine-Risk, Education, Victim Assistance, Advocacy, and Stockpile Destruction. The organization helps identify risk-prone areas, supports and rehabilitates victims, and advocates for the ban and regulation of landmines. The body also extends technical support to help destroy stockpiled explosive hazards. Inadequately managed conventional ammunition stockpiles threaten public safety and pose a grave risk to the security of people in such areas.

Mine action also helps people survive and thrive by clearing up vital access routes and freeing up arable land for farmers. U.N.M.A.S. works in various places such as Afghanistan, Colombia, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Libya, Nigeria, and Syria, among others. Led by it, the mine action community around the world is dedicated to eradicating landmines and saving lives.

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action timeline

1800s
The American Civil War

Precursors of landmines are first used in the American Civil War.

1989
The U.N. Gets Involved

The U.N. establishes the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan.

1997
The Ottawa Treaty

The International Convention on Prohibition, Stockpiling, Production, Transfer, Destruction, and Ban of anti-personnel landmines, opens for signature.

2011
Nepal Becomes Landmine-Free

The U.N. declares Nepal to be the second landmine-free country in Asia.

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action FAQs

What are the two types of landmines?

Landmines are of two main types: the anti-tank mines designed to disable tanks and vehicles, and the anti-personnel mines, designed to injure and cause casualties.

What is the problem with landmines?

Landmines are menacing because they are created to inflict brutal damage on people, including life-long injuries or death. Once planted, landmines don’t go away easily and need to be removed carefully. Landmines placed during World War I still cause death and destruction in parts of Europe and North Africa.

How many landmines exist in the world right now?

There are currently 110 million landmines in the ground, according to estimates. Most of these are in Egypt, followed by Iran, Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, China, and Cambodia. The U.N. claims that even with advanced technology for detecting and clearing landmines, it might take around 1,100 years for all of them to be cleared.

How to Observe International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

  1. Raise awareness

    Spread information and awareness about the dangers posed by landmines to civilian populations around the world. Many people are surprised to learn that these weapons are placed around the world even today and lead to casualties.

  2. Show your support

    Write to your local representatives and leaders, asking them to take more practicable steps towards the removal of landmines. Urge your leadership to help in the fight to ban landmines.

  3. Consider donating

    Donate to the several charities that have been working tirelessly to help clear landmines so people can reclaim their land for cultivation. Some of these are the Halo Trust, Landmine Relief Fund, and A.P.O.P.O.

5 Facts About Landmines You Didn’t Know

  1. Daniel Craig is an advocate

    Daniel Craig was named U.N. Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards by U.N. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in 2015.

  2. Most affected countries

    The nations worst hit by landmines are Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, China, Egypt, and Laos.

  3. Removing them is expensive

    The cost of removing all currently existing mines would be around 50 to 100 billion U.S. dollars.

  4. Many of them were randomly disseminated

    The United States dropped thousands of mines from planes during its nine-year bombing campaign in Laos.

  5. They have a long shelf life

    Buried landmines can remain active for more than half a century.

Why International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is Important

  1. Landmine removal saves lives

    Over 8,600 people were injured or killed by landmines in 2016. Still, there are around 61 countries that have landmines. Thousands of people in these regions live with the daily threat of losing their lives or limbs.

  2. It helps with social and economic development

    Living with death looming over can have serious effects on physical and mental health. Removing landmines helps people reclaim their rightful land, which can then be used to build homes, grow food, and sell produce. This will lead to an increase in income and prosperity.

  3. Landmines are still a problem

    The biggest stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines are held by Russia, Pakistan, India, China, and the United States. A small group of countries is still manufacturing anti-personnel landmines. This group includes India, Pakistan, and South Korea, with some others reserving manufacturing rights. Myanmar is the only country that has persistently continued using these weapons over the years.

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action dates

YearDateDay
2023April 4Tuesday
2024April 4Thursday
2025April 4Friday
2026April 4Saturday
2027April 4Sunday

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