International Mine Awareness Day

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International Mine Awareness Day this year is Saturday (4 April) and in line with worldwide efforts to combat the spread of coronavirus, it will be marked by a digital campaign spearheaded by UNMAS (UN Mine Action Service).

This year’s theme “together for mine action” runs as part of the world body’s 70th anniversary and kicks off a decade of efforts to the UN2030 Agenda, with multilateralism at its core. At UN headquarters level the UNMAS sub-theme “give life back” emphasises the need to assist disabled survivors of armed conflict rebuild their lives.

There will be no major gatherings, either in New York or at various sites worldwide where UNMAS and its partners work.

Instead a digital campaign highlighting the message “mountains can be moved” will show anti-personnel mines can be removed from “the face of the earth” UNMAS spokesman Lee Woodyear said.

“It will show when a common goal is shared and worked toward in a co-ordinated fashion, progress can be made.  Promoting the history of mine action, the campaign (#IMAD)  will demonstrate how working with a wide array of partners, civil society, member states, donors, NGOs, companies, UN agencies and programmes, the mine action community’s mission to enable disabled survivors equal access to health and education and participate fully in social and economic life can be achieved.”

The campaign is geared as a call to action with five separate elements. They are to establish organisations to build mobility assistance devices where needed; auction photos to raise money for groups supporting people with disabilities; bring attention to new accessible technology; connect partners and support governments in their commitments and efforts to leave no one with a disability behind;  and assist affected states with own campaigns.

The digital campaign will run on the UNMAS website (https://unmas.org/en) under the over-arching title “mine action is a pearl in UN history”.

A history of mine action, in words and pictures, describing the story behind civil society, governments and the UN working together to take on anti-personnel landmines will highlight it was once considered an almost impossible dream (“It will take 1 000 years”) and is today a realistic goal.

“Today we face COVID-19, tomorrow we face the climate change crisis; mine action will show multilateralism and collective effort can move mountains,” Woodyear said.