What is mine action?
|Anti-personnel landmines are inhumane weapons in that, once planted, they remain active for decades and indiscriminately kill or injure civilians.|
Landmines are inhumane weapons in that, once planted, they remain active for decades and indiscriminately kill or injure civilians. They pose such a threat to the safety of civilians even after conflicts that they not only inhibited the repatriation of refugees but also deprived the residents of the land that could be put to productive use, such as agriculture. Thus, landmines have obstructed restoration and the economic development of the affected area.
According to United Nations Mine Action Service (UNIMAS), mine action consists of the following five objectives:
1. Total abolition of landmines
2. Destruction of all stockpiles
3. Support for the victims
4. Clearance of mines
5. Education on how to avert landmines
1. Total ban of landmines
|With the sales of “Not Mines, But Flowers” series, we have successfully cleared 26,520,000 square kilometers of landmine fields since its publication in 1996.|
20 years have passed since the Ottawa Convention entered into force, and as of February 26th, 2019, as many as 164 countries have signed it. However, 32 countries, including influential countries such as the US, China and Russia have not sign it yet.
One of the most important things in mine clearance action is to involve as many people as possible in this action and raise awareness among the public. In addition to giving lectures and providing the general public with a learning opportunity by their visit, AAR published a picture book “Not Mines, But Flowers”, which sold as many as 610,000 copies. (Published by JIYUKOKUMIN-SHA , Story by YANASE Fusako, Illustrations
by YOH Shomei) As you can see, AAR Japan has been trying to get more and more people to become interested in landmine issues and to start action where possible.
2. Destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines
|Cleared landmines are either exploded on the spot or exploded with other mines|
after they are defused.
then-Prime Minister Junichiro KOIZUMI attended the ceremony.
Unfortunately, not all the nations destroy all the stockpiled mines as Japan did. Among the several countries I have visited, there were countries where the government did not keep track on where anti-personnel mines were still planted especially because it was right after the conflict. This is very risky. Destruction of mines is a crucial action that should be taken, because the number of mines is sure to decrease if the ones planted are destroyed and no more mines are made.
3. Giving assistance to victims
|AAR has been giving assistance to landmine victims. This is a picture of a man (on the left) having an artificial leg installed. He had to have his lower leg amputated because he had stepped on a landmine.|
We must bear in mind that helping victims means helping people with disabilities. AAR has been committed to giving assistance to people with disabilities regardless of cause.
Our assistance is composed of the following:
・Assistance in terms of urgent and continuous medical service, such as a surgery after the injury
・Physical rehabilitation, such as the kind of rehabilitation wearing prosthetics
・Psychological/Psychiatric support、such as counselling and treatment for patients with traumatic experiences, which is necessary for those with acute stress disorder after falling victim to landmines.
・Economic inclusion, for instance, vocational training so that victims can get income
・Gathering of information, which is crucial in getting appropriate and necessary support
・Acting on legal systems and institutions
There are countries where people with disabilities are not guaranteed their rights
as much as they should.
AAR became aware of the existence of landmine victims while supporting Indochina refugees, and started to give assistance to people with disabilities. We are now supporting them across the globe. Click here for details:
I will write about 4. Clearance and 5. Mine risk education in the next issue “Mine
Click here for AAR’s mine action.
For ten months, starting in April 2000, he was on assignment with the mine clearance NGO “HALO Trust”, engaged in UXO/mine clearance work. Afterwards, he oversaw mine action, public awareness training, and emergency aid at AAR Japan until March of 2008. After leaving AAR Japan, became a certified Social Worker and certified Psychiatric Social Worker. After working at an international NGO overseas focused on support for those with disabilities, domestic social welfare, and support for children, he returned to AAR Japan in February 2018. He is from Ibaraki Prefecture.