For a world without mines

Three questions for Thomas Gebauer of medico international on the International Day for Mine Awareness.

Mr Gebauer, the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel mines has been in force for fourteen years. Yet recently 2,000 children were killed or injured by landmines and unexploded bombs. The Landmine Monitor Report 2012 records a total of 4,286 casualties. How do you explain these sad statistics?

Every casualty is one too many. There is therefore still work to be done to rid the world completely of the threat of mines. The Ottawa Treaty created the conditions required for this. In the early 1990s there were 25,000 dead and umpteen thousands injured. Moreover, mines hindered farming and prevented children from going to school. Entire villages were cut off from the outside world. Since then great efforts have been made to make people aware of the danger and to clear mines. But as quickly as these weapons can be placed, so expensive and complicated is their removal. Still, life is slowly returning to formerly mine-infested regions.

What are now the major challenges, and do those affected receive enough attention?

Our efforts mustn’t flag. A mine-free world can be achieved only if the funding of mine action programmes continues. Nor is it enough to give prostheses to people who have been maimed by mines; they need life-long support. Awareness of the plight of mine victims is still high. It must not wane.

What is the German commitment to a world free of anti-personnel mines?

We have always striven to ensure that Germany fulfils its share of the responsibilities. Many mines have been used in so-called “proxy wars”, which concerned the interests of the West. It’s therefore good that Germany makes a substantial contribution to eliminating the threat of mines. In 2012 it was eighteen million euros.

United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April

In 1997 medico international along with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.





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