3,030 Killed and Injured in Landmine Blasts in Russia's CHECHNYA Over Decade - UN Body

04.04.2006 - Over 3,030 people have been killed or maimed in mine blasts in Russia's restive Chechnya province over the past 11 years, UNICEF and European Commission said in a joint statement released in Moscow on Tuesday, April 4 marked as the first International Mine Awareness Day.


"The explosive remnants of war, including landmines and unexploded ordnance, pose a huge threat to children and their communities in more than 80 countries, most of which are no longer in conflict. At least 20 per cent of the estimated 15,000-20,000 people who are killed or disabled each year by these deadly weapons of war are children," UNICEF and European Commission said in a joint statement released in Moscow Tuesday, the Interfax news agency reported.

In the Russian Federation, in Chechnya, over 3,030 people have been injured or killed by landmines in the last eleven years, that is one person's life destroyed or irrevocably altered almost everyday. More than 690 people have been killed in this period, 132 of whom were children, the statement reads.

Many young people affected by mines and unexploded ordnance lose opportunities to go to school, and often cannot afford rehabilitative care. The persisting threat of mines takes its toll on entire societies, perpetuating poverty and underdevelopment. Uncleared landmines, in fact, prevent access to needed reconstruct homes, roads, schools, health facilities and other essential services. They also deny access to farmland and irrigation. The Secretary General is calling on member states "to ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of landmine survivors, and to increase resources for mine action."

"Since 1997, the EU and its Member States have contributed over 1 billion euros to the fight against landmines worldwide. This represents more than half of the worldwide assistance to mine action. The first global mine awareness day is an excellent opportunity to highlight the many challenges that lie ahead of us in ridding the world of landmines", said Head of the European Commission Delegation to the Russian Federation, H.E. Marc Franco.

Recent progress has renewed hope that the threat of explosive devices can be eliminated sooner than previously thought. The number of new victims worldwide has been decreasing over the last decade, due largely to increasing efforts by governments and NGOs to destroy and clear mines and to educate communities about their dangers. In Chechnya the number of children killed or wounded has decreased by over 80% from 41 in 2003 to 7 in 2005. This encouraging result is due to the ongoing interventions in Chechnya, and particularly to the Mine Risk Education activities conducted by UNICEF and other agencies. The UN and the EC emphasised that the continued support of donors and the public is vital to these initiatives.

"Wars are not truly over until children can play safely and walk to school without fear of landmines and other explosive remnants of war," UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman said in New York. "We cannot afford to reverse the gains that have brought us closer to making the battle against landmines a success story."

Von: 04.04.2006, www.mosnews.com

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