Saturday, December 05, 2009

Landmines: States must step up efforts to help landmine victims

States must step up efforts to help landmine victims – including women, children and indigenous populations – in especially vulnerable situations, a senior United Nations human rights official has said.

“The way has been paved for a true mine-free world,” Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said yesterday at a landmine conference in the Colombian city of Cartagena.

“Yet, there is little doubt that there are still many challenges ahead that require urgent and firm action.”

The international community must focus its attention on the victims of the weapons, she underscored at the Second Review Conference of the State Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Convention.

Last year, there were more than 5,000 casualties from landmines which continue to kill and maim decades after they are laid.

Ms. Kang’s address yesterday coincided with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

“Every day, countless victims of landmines worldwide struggle to restore their lives and dignity,” she underscored.

She urged States that have signed onto the Ottawa Convention to consider the negative effects of landmines on civilians, including infringements on their economic, social and cultural rights.

“We hope that the number of victims will drastically decrease every year, and that State parties will adopt the necessary measures to ensure that all survivors will be able to reconstruct their lives with dignity, respect and hope for the future.”

During her week-long visit to Colombia, which wraps up today, the Deputy High Commissioner visited the south-eastern department of Putumayo, on the border with Ecuador and Peru, where she saw first-hand the impact of landmines on civilians.

She also held talks in the capital, Bogotá, with senior officials to discuss human rights and boost cooperation over the coming two years.

Source: UN

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