5 April 2013

Africa: Liberia Free of Landmines - As 3.1 Million Mines Removed - AU Ambassador Discloses

The African Union (AU) Ambassador to Liberia, Oluwatoyin Salaja has disclosed that the West African sub-region including Liberia is landmines freed, adding that the Government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has reaffirmed its commitment to relevant treaties and instruments banning such weapons. Speaking at program marking the International Day of Mines Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action in Monrovia recently, Ambassador Salaja said AU, UNMIL, EU and the ICRC including the Liberian Government have contributed their quota to ensuring a peaceful, mine-free environment in Liberia and beyond, for the safety and security of individuals as well as for the common good of Liberians and other residents in the country and the sub-region.

Ambassador Salaja who is also a Special Representative of the Chairman of the African Union Commission called on Liberians and those within the territorial confines of Liberia to remain conscious of the dangers and deadly effects of landmines and explosive remnants of war.

He also called on Liberians to report to the government and security officials any suspicious strange metal or plastic object, buried or exposed, that they may discover as such might turn to be an Explosive Remnant of War (ERW).

"Landmines and other ERWs have been used all around the world in conflict situations by both state and non-state actors with devastating consequences, including death and loss of limbs by innocent individuals during and after these conflicts," he noted.

He said Landmines Monitor Report of 2010, 1,700km of landmines were released through clearance or survey over the past decade, and over 3.1 million mines have been removed from the ground in West Africa and around the world, adding that said statistics are worrying and require urgent action to stem the tide.

According to him, several treaties have been put into place to address issues of manufacturing, stockpiling, use and destruction of landmines and that Head of States and Government of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) made decisions and resolutions aimed at addressing the scourge of landmines.

The AU Ambassador added that the Government of Liberia, EU, UNMIL, AU and ICRC have therefore reiterated their commitment to create advocacy to universalize the Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on its destruction; encourage stockpile destruction, clear mined areas, encourage mine risk education, and assist victims under the Mine Ban Treaty.

For her part, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her proclamation message acknowledged that landmines and other ERWs have been used all around the world in conflict situations by both state and non-state actors with devastating consequences including death and loss of limbs by innocent individuals during and after conflicts.

Being one of the founding members of the United Nations and other international organizations, President Sirleaf said Liberia is committed to every effort exerted by the United Nations General Assembly to curtail the dangers that landmines pose to the general populace.

The Proclamation which was declared April 4, 2013 as International Mine Awareness Day and a working holiday through Liberia was read by Foreign Affairs Minister, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan during an official program at the Ministry of National Defense at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia.

The 4th of April marks the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action and said day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on 8 December 2005 and was first celebrated on 4th April 2006.

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