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Dr. Bawumia: Calls for Global Efforts to Combat Anti-Personal Mines

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A three-day regional conference aimed at addressing the humanitarian impact of improvised anti-personnel mines on West Africa and the Sahel region has opened in Accra. 

The conference is being organized by the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons in partnership with the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction.
The conference also aims to build a future of peace, prosperity and dignity for all affected by these destructive weapons.

More than 100 delegates representing over 25 countries, including 15 ECOWAS-member states and eight African nations from the Sahel region, along with delegates from 13 countries across Europe and the Americas and a dozen of international and non-governmental organizations are participating in the conference.

They would discuss and seek solutions to the ever-growing humanitarian impact caused by the use of improvised anti-personnel mines in the two regions.

Call for collaboration

Speaking at the opening of the conference, the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, stressed the urgency of confronting the menace with “unwavering determination and collective efforts.”
He, therefore, called for global collaboration to address the issue. “We come together with a shared commitment to safeguarding human lives, protecting communities, and advancing peace and stability in our regions.”

Dr. Bawumia highlighted the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty and urged universal adherence to its core aims, including clearing mined areas, destroying stockpiled mines and assisting victims.

He further highlighted the grave threat posed by improvised anti-personnel mines to civilians, particularly in conflict zones, causing lasting physical and psychological harm. He stressed that the weapons disrupted livelihoods, hindered socio-economic development and impeded efforts to achieve sustainable peace and security.

Alarming statistics

Providing alarming statistics, Dr. Bawumia stated that an estimated 110 million landmines were scattered globally, with removal costs ranging from $300 to $1000 per mine. He said despite the financial challenges, the Landmine Monitor in its 2022 report indicated that state parties destroyed over 55 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines, showcasing significant commitment.

The report, he said, also revealed the grim reality of at least 4,710 individuals killed or injured by landmines or Explosive Remnants of War (ERWs) in 49 states in 2022. Out of the statistics, civilian casualties constituted 85 per cent, with almost half being children.

With such data, Dr. Bawumia underscored the urgent need for effective mine clearance and risk mitigation strategies, especially in African states such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Nigeria and Togo.

Solidarity

The Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, emphasized the global solidarity required to confront the humanitarian challenges posed by improvised anti-personnel mines and expressed the hope that the collective efforts of the diverse participants would lead to global peace, security and prosperity.

EU commitment

The European Union is the world’s second-largest donor for mine clearance, stockpile destruction and assistance to mine victims. The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Irchad Razaaly, said the EU and its member states were parties to the Convention and were strongly united in banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines, including those of an improvised nature.

The support by the EU, he said, signified a collective commitment to addressing the devastating impact of anti-personnel mines and reaffirmed the EU’s unwavering support for the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

Victim’s call

A victim of anti-personnel landmines, Margaret Arach Orech, acknowledged the challenges faced in victim assistance due to continuous conflicts worldwide, particularly in Africa, and indicated that the increasing number of new victims further burdened states already grappling with other national issues in their pursuit to eradicate anti-personnel mines.

Ms Orech, who is also the founder of the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association and doubles as the ambassador for the international campaign to ban landmines, drew attention to the African Union’s role in conflict resolution, peace and security, and urged the union to fulfill its promises to affected communities. She also advocated increased awareness of States Parties’ obligations within the Convention and condemned the deployment of improvised mines by non-state armed groups.

Additional source: Graphic Online