Landmines claim 15,000 annually [Archives:2007/1039/Local News]

April 5 2007

SANA'A, April 4 ) Landmines and explosive remnants of war claim the lives and limbs of 15,000 victims in nearly 80 countries. They also wreak havoc upon individuals' livelihoods and block access to land, roads and basic services, according to a press release issue by the U.N. Information Center.

More than 153 countries have ratified or adhered to a treaty opened for signature 10 years ago banning anti-personnel landmines. So far, approximately 40 million stockpiled and anti-personnel landmines have been destroyed, while production, sale and transfer of anti-personnel landmines have all but stopped and large mined areas have been cleared.

Additionally, landmine victims are receiving more and better assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration. Further, a system has been enacted to assist treaty signatories in fulfilling its obligations. Such a progress was achieved thanks to concerted efforts by the United Nations, all member states, non-governmental organizations and even landmine-affected countries themselves.

The U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – the fastest negotiated international human rights text in history – opened for signature March 30. It aims to ensure all human rights for every individual, regardless of disability.

Moreover, the statement called upon all nations that haven't signed the anti-personnel landmine treaty to do so soon, as well as calling upon all signatories to honor their obligations and render assistance to affected states and victims in need.

It further called for addressing the effects of cluster munitions, which are responsible for a similar number of victims as landmines, highlighting the importance joining efforts and hands to raise awareness and rally support for such treaties in order to create a safer world.

Yemen is one such nation affected by landmines. It has sought to clear its territory of such hazardous materials that resulted from a series of consecutive wars, beginning with the highlands in the late 1970s and ending with the 1994 Civil War.

Warring parties implanted numerous fields with landmines, anti-personnel mines and other explosives. Thousands of citizens have been killed or lost body parts, mostly limbs, due to explosions by such war remnants.

Yemen ratified the treaty banning anti-personnel landmines in 1997 and has worked hard to rid the nation of mines and all explosive war remnants, achieving significant success. The Yemeni government initiated the National Landmine Action Program in 1998, destroying all stockpiled anti-personnel landmines by 2002.