In the current climate of protracted and violent crises, mine action stands out as a specialized protection activity that cuts across all spheres of humanitarian action. Explosive hazards inhibit freedom of movement, put civilian infrastructures at risk and limit access to food, water, schools, hospitals and shelter, and ultimately, they jeopardize the safe and dignified return of refugees and internally displaced persons.
UNMAS reduces danger and protects people from the physical and psychological harm caused by explosive hazards. Mine action is a vital component of humanitarian responses.
UNMAS and its partners save lives and limbs by surveying, mapping, marking, detecting and destroying explosive hazards as well as providing risk education. Mine action helps people survive, for instance, by clearing vital access routes and making arable land available for farmers to grow food. Mine action improves the quality of life, for example, through assistance to survivors, which is vital to meet the immediate and long-term needs of explosive hazard survivors, affected families and communities. UNMAS work builds on the five “pillars” of mine action, a concept commonly referred to in the mine action sector.
In response to recent humanitarian crises and a need for quick deployment of mine action teams, UNMAS created a Rapid Response and Technical Support Capacity to respond to emergencies. The Rapid Response team can set up a mine action coordination mechanism and deploy deminers within 96 hours.
UNMAS work in humanitarian contexts usually results from a request for assistance from the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator or an affected state. In addition, UNMAS participation in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Emergency Directors Group includes mine action, from the outset, in humanitarian response planning, programming and financing.
UNMAS coordinates the Mine Action Area of Responsibility and is the ‘provider of last resort’ for mine action within the Global Protection Cluster led by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). The group, which is coordinated together with the NGO Humanity and Inclusion, is composed of UN agencies, NGOs and international organizations that work together to improve the impact and reach of mine action. This coordination platform promotes the integration of mine action in humanitarian planning, policies, and responses.