African Union Members Must Step Up Efforts in Clearing Landmines, Assisting Mine Survivors

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African Union Members Must Step Up Efforts in Clearing Landmines, Assisting Mine Survivors

Regional meeting on landmines opens today in Pretoria

Pretoria - African Union members must step up their efforts towards ridding the
continent of landmines and fully respecting the rights of landmine
survivors, said the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL),
1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, today at the opening of a regional meeting
on the issue. The Third Continental Conference of African Experts on
Landmines (9-11 September) brings together all AU members,
international organizations involved in mine action, and African ICBL
activists.

More than half of the African states are contaminated with mines or
explosive remnants of war. All those that are parties to the Mine Ban
Treaty must clear all antipersonnel landmines on their territory "as
soon as possible" but no later than ten years after joining the treaty.
Chad, Mozambique, Senegal, and Zimbabwe had mine clearance deadlines in
2009, and were recently granted deadline extensions ranging from 14
months for Chad to seven years for Senegal. Uganda failed to meet its 1
August 2009 deadline and requested a three-year extension last month.
"Affected communities living in daily fear of landmines have waited
long enough. States must finish the mine clearance job. It can be done
if the political will is there," said Boubine Touré, of the Senegal
Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The ICBL calls on AU states to fully include mine survivors and
their organizations in the development, implementation and monitoring
of disability plans and national laws, as they are the ones who know
best what they need. "Governments have been making promises to mine
survivors ever since the Mine Ban Treaty came into being ten years ago,
but most mine survivors are still waiting for those promises to come
true. Mine survivors and other persons with disabilities are still
among the poorest of the poor, and struggle to access medical care,
psychological support, and economic opportunities. States are supposed
to clear mines within ten years and to destroy stockpiles within four
years, but assisting mine survivors must be a lifelong commitment,"
said Margaret Arach Orech, a mine survivor herself, ICBL Ambassador and
founder of the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association.

With only four states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty, Africa has one
of the world's highest adherence rates. "Egypt, Libya, Morocco and
Somalia must embrace the worldwide ban on landmines as soon as
possible. We would like to see them take interim steps towards a total
mine ban, such as starting to destroy their stockpiles of antipersonnel
mines, engaging seriously in mine clearance, and supporting mine
survivors. Egypt, in particular, should formally ban the production of
landmines forever," said Ayman Sorour, who sits on the ICBL's
management committee and is the head of Protection, the Egyptian arm of
the ICBL.

The Third Continental Conference of African Experts on Landmines
will focus on clearance of mined areas, victim assistance, and securing
a common African position on landmines. The conference is part of a
series of regional meetings convened in the lead-up to the Mine Ban
Treaty's Second Review Conference, which will take place in Cartagena,
Colombia in the week of 30 November 2009.

ENDS

Additional information and interviews

Arabic: Ayman Sorour, Protection (Egypt), mobile +33 6 76 19 69 84

English and Portuguese: Robert Mtonga, Zambia Campaign to Ban Landmines, mobile +260 977842922

French: Boubine Touré, Senegal Campaign to Ban Landmines, mobile +221 775637648

Background

The Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans use, production, and trade
of antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within
four years, requires destruction of mines already in the ground within
10 years, and urges extensive programs to assist the victims of
landmines.

There are currently 156 States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty,
including all African states except Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Somalia.
Western Sahara, an African Union member, is not eligible to join the
Mine Ban Treaty as it is not recognized by the United Nations.

More than half of the African states are contaminated with mines or
explosive remnants of war: Algeria, Angola, Burundi, Chad, Republic of
the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo,
Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Libya,
Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria,
Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Western Sahara is also contaminated.

Egypt is the only African state with antipersonnel landmine production facilities.

The ICBL, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, is a global network in over 70
countries, working for a world free of landmines and cluster munitions.

Landmines in Africa - Landmine Monitor Report Factsheet

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The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is committed to an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and sale, transfer, or export of antipersonnel landmines.  

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