MONTREAL, Feb. 28 /CNW Telbec/ - To mark the Canadian Landmine Awareness Week (February 28 - March 6th), Handicap International is calling on Canada to strengthen its
commitment to the fight against landmines, notably in fulfilling its
obligations to victim assistance and mine clearance.
Handicap International bemoans the drastic fall (57%) in Canadian aid to
the fight against landmines, particularly when compared with last year.
According to the Landmine Monitor 2010 Report, this represents the most
significant decrease among all donor countries in 2009. "The
spectacular decrease in Canadian aid is disquieting", claims Claire
Fehrenbach, director of Handicap International Canada, before adding
that "Canada, and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
in particular, seems to be gradually divesting itself of its commitment
to fight landmines. This is worrisome given that 500,000 people have
survived the explosion of either a landmine or an explosive remnant of
war (ERW). They need lifetime assistance, access to aid, socio-economic
inclusion. Their families and communities also need support".
In conjunction with this decrease, Canadian aid in fighting landmines
was limited to a few countries, notably Afghanistan, and was
essentially channeled through the United Nations and other multilateral
organizations. "This aid is vital, however Canadian field operations,
including NGOs undertaking mine clearance or victim assistance in
mine-plagued countries, see very little of it", adds Claire Fehrenbach.
The association is urging the Canadian government to assume its past
leadership and deploy the necessary funds.
Another distressing point highlighted in the Landmine Monitor 2010
report is Burma's continuing use of landmines. It is the last nation in
the world that grants itself the right to employ these barbaric
weapons. Paramilitary groups from six countries are suspected landmine
The latter fact blights the report's relatively positive findings:
In 2009, the use and production of these arms as well as accidents
caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) are at their
lowest levels since 1999. "This is a victory for Handicap International
and for those who have been committed to the fight for over ten years"
affirms Claire Fehrenbach.
Last year, 3,956 new landmine and explosive remnants of war (ERW)
victims were accounted for; this is a 28% decrease relative to 2008.
However, data remains incomplete or non-existent in most affected
countries and the Landmine Monitor estimates the number of victims to
be much more significant.
557 square kilometers have undergone clearance, mostly in Afghanistan,
Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq and Sri Lanka, this represents the destruction
of 255,000 landmines, 37,000 anti-tank mines and 2 million explosive
remnants of war (ERW). This is the first time that the Monitor records
such a finding.
86 countries have finalized the destruction of their landmine stockpiles
for a total of 45 million destroyed mines.
In 2009, 73 states and territories were contaminated by landmines.
Landmine Monitor 2010 is the 12th annual report of its kind. It tracks worldwide developments in relation
to interdiction policy, use, production, trade and stockpiling of
landmines. It provides information on landmine and explosive remnants
of war (ERW) contamination, mine clearance and victim assistance. The
report chronicles 2009 and includes information until August 2010
For more information: www.handicap-international.ca
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent and impartial international aid
organization working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict
and disaster. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other
vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding
to their essentials needs, improving their living conditions and
promoting respect for their dignity and their fundamental rights. The
Association co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the
Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 1997.
SOURCE HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
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