Burundi declares itself landmine-free at world convention

Image
This map shows suspected land mine fields in orange and confirmed land mine fields in red in Battambang Province in Cambodia.

Burundi declares itself landmine-free at world convention
November 28, 2011

Phnom Penh - An international conference on landmines opened Monday with Burundi announcing it had cleared its territory of anti-personnel mines and Uganda vowing to meet that goal next year.

Burundi Minister of Public Security Gabriel Nizigama told the meeting of countries that joined an anti-landmine treaty, called the Ottawa Convention, that his country had met its target three years ahead of schedule. 'Burundi would like to reiterate its thanks for the support which she got from the international community during the process of the implementation of the Ottawa Convention,' he said. 'Long live a world free of mines.'


Musa Ecweru, Uganda's disaster preparedness minister, said his nation had made 'significant progress' and expected to clear its territory of mines by 2012, after which Kampala would send trained personnel to other countries, such as Somalia and South Sudan.

Finnish Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala said her nation had agreed to the provisions of the Ottawa treaty, making it the 159th nation to do so. She said the decision meant Finland would destroy its stockpile of about 1 million landmines by 2016.

At their five-day meeting in Phnom Penh, the signatories to the treaty would discuss extensions for some countries' deadlines for mine clearance, the destruction of mine stockpiles and care for mine victims. Next year marks 20 years of formal demining efforts in Cambodia, one of the world's most mined nations. Cambodian activists were key to global efforts in the mid-1990s to ban landmines, a campaign that eventually led to the drafting of the 1997 Ottawa Convention. 'As the world comes to Cambodia, one of the birth places of the movement, we all embrace a golden opportunity where we can reflect on two decades of effort and make important decisions to save more lives,' Cambodian Senior Minister Prak Sokhonn said. The country has pledged to clear all mines from its soil by 2020 after missing its original target of 2010.

Image
Cambodian land-mine victim Yan Lay, holding her baby, looks at the mine-action exhibit during a September 2003 meeting in Bangkok of the states party to the Mine Ban Treaty. There are some 50,000 amputees in the country, victims of landmines set during the time of the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot, and some 6 million mines may remain in the country. (Credit: Pornchai Kittiwongsakul—AFP/Getty Images)

Source: Monsters & Critics.