It wasn’t all talk on Friday when the African Union (AU) marked International Mine Awareness Day in Addis Ababa.
The continental body handed 55 handheld mine detectors, 55 protective aprons and 55 visors to Ethiopia, Mauritania, Sudan and Zimbabwe as part of its ongoing effort to support member states in demining. The AU’s ultimate aim is to make Africa a landmine-free continent.
The commemorative event was arranged in collaboration UN Mine Action Services (UNMAS), the UN Office to the AU (UNOAU) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Representatives from these organisations as well as AU member states, regional economic communities and bi- and multi-lateral partners had the opportunity to see a demining demonstration near AU headquarters.
UNMAS said 10 people are either killed or maimed by a landmine every day of the year.
“Mine action,” the organisation added, “entails more than removing landmines from the ground. It includes actions ranging from teaching people how to protect themselves from danger in mine affected environments and advocating for a mine-free world”.
In keeping with this year’s them of focusing on the role of women in safeguarding the earth UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said women and girls are disproportionately affected by landmines.
“They have different needs when it comes to education about risks and they may also face greater challenges when a family member is killed or injured.
“That is why the UN endeavours to listen to the views of women in our mine action work, incorporate their ideas and empower them to contribute even more to our global campaign.”
He also called for greater involvement of women at higher levels in mine action as well as urging governments to do more to address gender in their mine action programmes and through the implementation of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention.