Annan welcomes improvements in tackling scourge of landmines

In a report to the General Assembly measuring the progress achieved on the issue since 2001, Mr. Annan says the work of United Nations agencies has helped many mine-affected countries to respond more effectively and quickly to the problem.In Afghanistan, for example, the UN Mine Action Service managed the centre that runs the country’s anti-mine programme. Last year about 78 square kilometres of land were cleared, more than 22 square kilometres returned to local communities for their use and another 160 square kilometres were surveyed.Mr. Annan says countries are now more willing to work collaboratively against landmines, consulting and sharing information not just with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society groups but other nations as well.States are also more pro-active about educating their citizens about the dangers posed by landmines, which kill or injure between 15,000 and 20,000 people every year. In April and May this year the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ran a project in eastern Chad that taught some 100,000 people about the risks.For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) helped many governments, including those of Iraq, Mozambique and Yemen, construct their national strategies, including details about mine clearance and survivor assistance.Mr. Annan adds that donors increasingly recognize the value of supporting mine action work from development and reconstruction budgets, instead of only through humanitarian and emergency budgets. read more