Collaborating with its partners, the United Nations is working in an environment where more landmines come out of the ground than are planted each year, a senior peacekeeping official told the General Assembly's Special Political and Decolonization Committee today.
Assistant Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute described strides being made by the UN to expand and bolster its support to affected countries. "UN mine action supports Security Council mandates in Afghanistan, Burundi, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, the temporary security zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Southern Lebanon and in Sudan, where mine action is an integral component of the comprehensive peace agreement," she said.
She cited the UN's work in Cyprus as an example of "how mine action can contribute to peace-building." There, the UN peacekeeping force (UNFICYP), UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Mine Action Service are working together in a programme that is "removing the physical barrier between the two sides to the conflict and is opening the way for more crossing points."
In Colombia, the only nation in Latin America where mines are still being sown, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) leads the UN effort to assist the government and local partners in developing capacity and coordinating the UN response, she said. UNICEF also leads efforts in Nepal, where improvised explosive devices present the main threat. The situation there, she added, "remains under close scrutiny."
In Sudan, the UN programme has been integrated into the UN peacekeeping mission (UNMIS). "The MRE activities coordinated by the Sudan mine action programme assist local populations live in close proximity with mined areas and assist refugee and displaced populations avoid accidents as they return to their homes," the Assistant Secretary-General said.
She praised the "generous support of donor governments and the tireless dedication" of countries affected by mines and other explosive remnants of war. The UN's role in mine action is "integral to the mission of the organization and [one] that we look forward to fulfilling in the future."