On the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the EU honours the courage and determination of deminers worldwide and commemorates those who have lost their lives while carrying out the important work of making mine affected areas safe again. Their work has contributed significantly in the fight against the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war.
On this occasion, the European Union reiterates its concern about the tremendous humanitarian, stabilisation and development challenges still posed by anti-personnel mines, including improvised mines. These devices continue to kill people and constitute an obstacle to the return of refugees and other displaced persons, humanitarian aid operations, reconstruction and economic development. Mines also have serious and lasting social and economic effects on the populations of mine-affected areas. Since 2015, observers have recorded a rise in the number of new mine casualties, especially due to ongoing armed conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. But also the explosive legacies of old conflicts are a constant danger to people in affected regions.
The European Union and its Member States have consistently provided political, financial and scientific support to mine action worldwide, amounting to a total of more than 500 million Euros over the last five years. In 2016 alone, the EU signed new contracts to support mine action in Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Syria and Ukraine, amounting to a committed total of more than 55 million Euro. The projects cover the whole scope of mine action: clearance, stockpile destruction, victim assistance, risk education, advocacy and capacity building. Apart from being a top donor for mine action, the EU is also supporting affected states, like Iraq, to set up or update their national mine action strategies and operational clearance plans, in cooperation with the UN and other donors and actors.
This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction. 162 countries have already acceded to this Convention which has had a significant impact on the worldwide use, transfer and production of anti-personnel mines. Vast areas of land have been cleared and returned for use. 157 States Parties have disposed their stockpiles. More than 50 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed, which is a tremendous gift to future generations. Since the entry into force of the Convention, the number of new mine victims per year has fallen considerably and on a global scale the use of anti-personnel mines has decreased dramatically. The EU is fully committed to support the Convention through continued financial and political support for the implementation of the Maputo Action Plan. With all EU Member States Party to the Convention, the EU urges those States outside the Convention to accede to the Convention.