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Perils of unexploded remnants of war stressed in UN mine report

Perils of unexploded remnants of war stressed in UN mine report

A new United Nations report finds 26 out of 29 war-ravaged countries or territories surveyed to be plagued with the lurking remnants of cluster bombs and other explosives, and proposes measures to address these deadly weapons.

“Recent events have shown yet again the horrendous humanitarian impact of cluster munitions on civilians,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan said upon the launch of the Portfolio of Mine Action Projects, a collection of proposals published jointly by the mine service, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“In a number of countries, explosive remnants of war pose a greater danger to civilians than do landmines,” Mr. Annan added.

The 2007 edition of the Portfolio includes 300 proposals covering all five "pillars" of mine action: clearance and marking of hazardous areas, mine risk education, victim assistance, destruction of stockpiled munitions and advocacy for international agreements related to landmines and explosive remnants of war.

The combined budgets of all project proposals total $429 million, out of which only $111.7 million in funding has been secured as yet, resulting in a $317.5 million gap, according to the Mine Action Service, part of the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

Among this year’s projects, more attention that ever before is paid to explosive remnants of war, also know as unexploded ordinance or UXOs, which are the subject of an addendum to the anti-mine convention that entered into force two days ago.

Protocol V to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons includes provisions that will one day facilitate the rapid removal and destruction of explosive remnants of war, but is aimed at conflicts that have yet to occur, according to Secretary-General Annan.

“There remains an urgent need to handle the aftermath of conflicts that took place before it went into force,” he said, claiming that “projects in the Portfolio will help meet that need.”

With significant gains already made in reducing the global threat from landmines due to unprecedented political and donor support, he said similar backing is now needed to lower the threat posed by explosive remnants of war.

“I call on the national authorities of affected countries, in partnership with donor countries, to show a strong commitment to this effort and to ensure adequate funding for the complete mine action agenda set out in the Portfolio,” he said.