4 April is the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, designated by the General Assembly to raise awareness and seek assistance for mine action.
In 2023 the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) acknowledged the day under the campaign “Mine Action Cannot Wait”, highlighting decades of contamination in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Viet Nam, as well as draw attention to recent explosive ordnance contamination in Myanmar, Ukraine and Yemen.
Events at UNHQ
Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Tuesday, 4 April 2023, 12.00 - 1:15 p.m.
The leadership of UNMAS and other guests attended the Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- H.E. Mr. Krzysztof Maria Szczerski, Permanent Representative of Poland to the United Nations
- Ms. Ilene Cohn, Director, UNMAS
- Ms. Asako Okai, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Crisis Bureau
- Major General Hoa, Director General, Vietnam National Mine Action Center
You can watch the press briefing at this link.
Symposium “Mine Action Cannot Wait”
Tuesday, 4 April 2023, 3:00 - 5:30 p.m. (Conference Room 4)
UNMAS held a Symposium to raise awareness and seek assistance for mine action work.
- Foreign Minister of Canada Mr. Lloyd Axworthy, who was instrumental in the creation of the Mine Ban Convention;
- Former US Senator Mr. Patrick Leahy, a key player in funding mine action;
- Major General Hoa, Director General of the VNMAC, Progress and Challenges, Viet Nam;
- Mr. Anouparb Vongnorkeo, Permanent Representative of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the United Nations;
- Ms. Sophea Eat, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the United Nations;
- Ms. Melissa Fleming, Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications;
- Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations;
- Ms. Virgina Gamba, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict;
- Film director Richard Fitoussi;
- Giles Duley, United Nations Global Advocate for persons with disabilities in conflict and peacebuilding situations;
- International Crisis Group journalist Richard Gowan.
The Symposium is available for viewing on UN Web TV at this link.
Opening of Multi-Media Exhibition
Tuesday, 4 April 2023, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
UNMAS opened a multi-media exhibition on the same theme. The exhibit included photographs, graphics, and film clips that illustrated the work that had been completed in Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Vietnam, as well as what remained to be done. It also showed global explosive ordnance contamination, and highlighted new contamination in Cambodia, Myanmar, Ukraine, and Yemen, and showed how people across the world were affected. The exhibit is in the Lobby of Visitor's Centre of the United Nations General Assembly Building until 15 May and there is a Virtual Exhibit here.
Events Around the World
UNMAS held various community-based sporting events during the first week of April, including a 5km fun run, a cricket tournament, and a volleyball game. There was also an exhibition of UNMAS material, including a demining costume and EORE materials, at the UNISFA HQ.
On 4 April, UNMAS Afghanistan held an event to recognize the achievements made in the mine action community over the past few years. The event showcased a mini exhibit and display of state-of-the-art demining equipment and costumes, providing an up-close and personal look at the latest technology being used in the field, while an interactive VR experience put guests right into the role of a deminer. Speakers included key players within Afghanistan's demining community and provided interesting insights into their line of work. In special recognition of Ramadan, visitors were also provided with a small Iftar at the event.
UNICEF Afghanistan prepared special ceremonies throughout the country's Western Region (WR), which had been particularly affected by UXO/mine explosions. The ceremonies took place in Herat, Shindand district; Farah, Pusht-e-Roud district; Badghis, Bala Murghab; and Ghor, Shahrak district. Community elders and some children were given the chance to speak about their experiences, and EORE posters and leaflets were distributed to the participants. It was hoped that this celebration served as an opportunity for the affected communities to come together and support efforts towards mine awareness and assistance in mine action.
UNICEF Azerbaijan was pleased to announce its celebration of UN Mine Action Day on 4 April through various events that utilized the power of football. This commemoration was held in partnership with ANAMA, ICRC, Azerbaijan Football Development Foundation (NGO), and professional football clubs situated in the conflict-affected districts.
EORE sessions had been planned for schoolchildren in the conflict-affected villages on 2-5 April. During these sessions, various types of IEC materials, including t-shirts and school bags with safe-behavior messages, were distributed.
A grassroots football festival for approximately 100 children was organized in Tovuz City on 4 April. The festival comprised various football exercises and fun games, such as dribbling, small-sided football, and relay races. Additionally, several players from Turan Tovuz football club joined the children on the pitch.
Furthermore, a friendly football match was played among the partners on 4 April, right after the children's festival. This event was an opportunity for partners to collaborate and celebrate UN Mine Action Day through sports.
Central African Republic
UNMAS in the Central African Republic collaborated with its partners to host several events highlighting Mine Action Day in Bangui and Bouar.
In Bangui, the activities throughout the first week of April included a thought-provoking presentation on mine action to senior students at Bangui University on 3 April, a roundtable discussion on Radio Ndekeluka on the impact of mine action on the Central African Republic on 4 April, and an event to celebrate Mine Action Day 2023 at the United Nations UCATEX Camp on 5 April.
On 6 April, there were explosive ordnance risk education sessions at the UNICEF headquarters for the bloggers committee from the UReport platform.
In Bouar, there were also several events throughout the first week of April, including the screening of a short documentary, an exhibit on MINUSCA and UNMAS equipment, and a roundtable discussion. There was also a sporting event for children, including an EORE treasure hunt for children affected by explosive ordnance incidents and an EORE session.
On 3 April, UNMAS Ethiopia was pleased to participate alongside other key UN entities in an engaging conference hosted by the African Union Peace and Security Council to commemorate the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This year's theme, "Impact on Peace and Security in Africa," highlighted the critical role of mine action in promoting sustainable peace and security on the continent. The conference took place in the Plenary Hall of the Julius Nyerere Peace and Security Building, situated at the heart of the AU compound.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo
On 4 April, UNMAS partnered with the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the Congolese Mine Action Coordination Center (CCLAM) to organize an event in Kinshasa, in recognition of mine action day. The event brought together important people and organizations, including donors, embassies, national authorities, and others to raise awareness about the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
There was also an official ceremony to mark the launch of the KOICA 2022-2024 project implemented by UNMAS titled “Sustainable Mine Action in Support of Conflict Affected Refugees, Internally Displaced People and Communities in the DRC”, with guest speaker H.E. Cho Jaichel, the South Korean Ambassador in DRC.
On 4 April, UNMAS Geneva Office hosted an event in the Palais des Nations.
Ms. Christelle Loupforest, the Liaison Officer for UNMAS Geneva and Deputy Coordinator for the Mine Action Area of Responsibility, delivered the welcome address. This was followed by Mr. Bruno Donat, the Chief of UNMAS Geneva and Global Coordinator for the Mine Action Area of Responsibility, who provided an introduction. Ms. Tatiana Valovaya, the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, shared a message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The event then featured several key speakers from Afghanistan, Germany, GICHD, Global Protection Cluster, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, and Ukraine.
The Chief of Mine Action Programme in Iraq participated in a Directorate for Mine Action (DMA) event on 4 April to recognize the importance of mine action within the region.
UNMAS in Nigeria held several projects during the first week of April, including an informative event between UNMAS, Danish Refugee Council (DRC), the Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and the Center for Social Cohesion Peace and Empowerment (CENSCOPE) on 4 April. The event included lively panels, poetry, songs, and a drama presentation.
There was also a radio show in Maiduguri town, and several in-person community-based projects in Yobe State, Borno State, and Adamawa State to promote the Day.
UNMAS in Mali held several events to recognize mine action day on 4 April, this included an official ceremony in Bamako with the Permanent Secretariat to Counter the Illicit Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons, that was attended by national authorities, partners as well as representatives from the mine action community, and the inauguration of the third and final part of the Weapons and Ammunition Management (WAM) project implemented by MINUSMA DDR/SSR. There were also awareness-raising activities in the regions such as a drawing contest, a video projection, and recreational activities and sensitization sessions at camps for internally displaced persons.
UNMAS in Somalia hosted several events throughout the first week of April to raise awareness of mine action. This included a visit to an Internally Displaced Person camp by Somali Explosives Management Authorities (SEMA) to attend an EORE session for local children.
On 8 April, UNMAS Somalia hosted a sporting event where they distributed some UNMAS merchandise.
South Sudan had created several activities leading up to the Day which saw the connection of the arts with the healing process of trauma.
On 27 March, there was an interview on the Radio Miraya breakfast show with Mr. Nebay, a professional painter and mentor with Confident Children out of Conflict (CCC), and Fran O'Grady, Chief of Mine Action Programme in South Sudan; the uplifting song "Mine Action Cannot Wait", written and produced by Mr. Mambo Alex was released. The show can be listened to by clicking here.
Another Radio Miraya interview aired on 3 April with Fran O'Grady and Mr. Mambo, where he performed his song "Mine Action Cannot Wait" live, and on 4 April, Mr. Nebay showcased his painting on the same theme in an exhibit featuring his mentees' artwork.
State of Palestine
On 7 March, UNMAS Palestine organized an event titled "Safe Behavior Gives Me a Safe Life." The event was conducted in collaboration with the Palestinian Mine Action Center (PMAC) at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School, Ramallah, in the West Bank and was attended by students.
The event was inaugurated by Mr. Iyad AlRafidi, Principal of the school, Mr. Issa Alghnimat, Operations Manager of PMAC, and Mr. Charles Birch, Chief of Mine Action Programme in the State of Palestine, who delivered speeches. During the event, the students were entertained by a puppet show aimed at raising their awareness of the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The puppet show was also performed in a mobile puppet theater at various schools, with a target audience of approximately 1,500 students.
On 21 March, UNMAS in the State of Palestine, in collaboration with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), held a commemoration in Gaza. The event witnessed enthusiastic participation from UNRWA students, who enjoyed various fun and educational activities, including dancing to the SafeSteps Song and Dabkeh, playing child-friendly games, and coloring boards containing explosive ordnance risk education (EORE) messages.
The event was attended by representatives from various UN and humanitarian partner organizations. The Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza, Mr. Thomas White, and the Chief of Mine Action Programme in Palestine, Mr. Charles Birch, delivered speeches, praising the close collaboration between UNMAS and UNRWA and highlighting the significance of educating children on how to avoid and report suspicious objects through child-friendly EORE provided by UNMAS.
In Sudan, a high-profile event at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum was attended by government officials, diplomats, and international organizations on 4 April and provided an opportunity for mine action organizations within the country to showcase their achievements; there were also impactful speeches and music performances.
The UNMAS team in Syria devised a multifaceted plan to commemorate the Day with a series of events. These events included a field visit to a clearance site in Rural Damascus, which provided UN country representatives with the opportunity to witness demining operations firsthand. Additionally, an open-door afternoon at the UNMAS office in Damascus allowed visitors to learn about the organization's demining operations in the country.
Furthermore, a joint initiative with UNICEF was organized to promote mine awareness through mural painting in three schools located in Rural Damascus.
There was also an SMS awareness campaign to all mobile phone subscribers in the country.
To recognize mine action day, The Halo Trust has prepared The Mine Awareness Day on the Hill Exhibition & Reception. Set to take place on, 19 April, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM ET in Room 2060 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
This exhibition-style event and reception will feature interactive demining displays and speeches from Members of the Administration and Congress, which will offer an opportunity for policymakers, members of the demining community, and the general public to come together and celebrate the progress of demining efforts worldwide. The event also aims to recognize Members of Congress who have made a significant impact in creating a safer world and highlight the need for continued US leadership in the mine action space.
Confirmed speakers include Rep. Bill Johnson and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, the Co-Chairs of the Congressional UXO/Demining Caucus, as well as Sean Burke, Director of the U.S. DOD Humanitarian Demining R&D Program, and Jessica Lewis, Assistant Secretary of State for the Political-Military Affairs Bureau (TBC). Refreshments will be provided in accordance with House ethics guidelines.
The Territory of Western Sahara
UNMAS in the Territory of Western Sahara planned celebrated mine action day on 4 April at MINURSO HQ. SRSG, Alexander Ivanko, attended the event to remark impactful work of mine action within the territory while the UNMAS team organized recreational activities and competitions related to mine action.
A national celebration ceremony was held in Sana`a on 4 April, under the auspices and supervision of the prime minister. The event brought together high officials from the government, UN agencies, INGOs, NGOs, and YEMAC teams, totaling around 200 participants. The two-hour ceremony featured official speeches, traditional songs, short plays, and speeches from the survival association and persons with deaf disability, making for a diverse and meaningful program.
In addition to the national celebration ceremony, two days of awareness sessions for children were conducted in Hodeidah governorate, which is significantly affected by explosive remnants of war (ERWs). Educational sessions were also presented for children in one of the largest public gardens in Hodeidah City, where little gifts were distributed to children who solved quizzes. Around 500 children participated in the sessions on 4-5 April.
Telecommunication companies also sent SMS messages to approximately 3.5 million individuals to promote awareness of the event, further spreading the message of mine action and its importance in Yemen.