Despite international efforts, the number of people killed or injured by landmines and other explosive hazards has risen following years of decline, the Security Council heard on Friday.
Alexander Zouev, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, said the number of casualties has surpassed 8,500; citing information from the latest annual report by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
He said this “unfortunate trend” was the result of ongoing conflicts, as well as difficulty in accessing contaminated areas during active combat.
“That figure represents over twice as many victims as four years ago. Over 2,000 of those victims were killed; nearly a quarter of them were children,” he said.
“Considering the difficulty of gathering data during active conflicts, it is likely that the actual number of casualties is much higher.”
The Council met to take stock of developments since the adoption last year of its first stand-alone resolution on mine action.
Considering the difficulty of gathering data during active conflicts, it is likely that the actual number of casualties is much higher - Alexander Zouev, UN Assistant Secretary-General
Resolution 2365, tabled by Bolivia, highlights the importance of including mine action in the early stage planning for peacekeeping operations and humanitarian response.
Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, the country’s UN ambassador, listed how it can improve the lives of people in communities emerging from conflict.
“For example: the use of land for farming, the return of girls and boys to school, re-establishing water and electric supply, is only possible after an exhaustive clean-up,” he said.
As Mr. Zouev explained, mine action is vital not only for saving lives but as a precursor for peacebuilding, stabilization and sustainable development.
And with nearly 60 peacekeepers killed last year in incidents involving explosive devices, it is also critical to the safety of UN personnel on the ground.
“Moreover, mine action helps prevent explosive material from being harvested for use by armed groups,” he said.
“This makes mine action a vital element of the nexus between peace and security and development, and a cornerstone in preventing any relapse into future conflicts.”