Beirut, April 2021 – With the support from the Government of Japan (USD 825,000), the United Nations Mine Action Service Syria Response Programme (UNMAS SRP) launched the new project “Humanitarian Mine Action to address increased threat associated with the COVID-19 pandemic in Syria (31 March 2021 – 30 March 2022)”.
The Syrian conflict is one of the most devastating humanitarian crises of modern times. The extensive use of weapons has contaminated vast swathes of land with explosive ordnance including landmines, improvised explosive devices and other explosive remnants of war. While the full scale of contamination is not precisely known, based on preliminary findings for the 2021 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO), approximately one in three communities in Syria is potentially contaminated with explosive ordnance.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, explosive ordnance contamination has been and will be continuously threatening lives and hampering access to basic services including medical facilities and the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the country. To minimize the threat of explosive ordnance for communities most at risk, under this project, UNMAS SRP will coordinate mine action activities in Syria for humanitarian mine action partners to assist people in greatest need. Further, UNMAS SRP will provide synergetic support through the delivery of explosive ordnance risk education sessions incorporating COVID-19 safety messages to 20,500 people, so that communities know how to mitigate the risk of explosive ordnance. UNMAS SRP will also conduct community liaison as a follow-up action to the work of the UNMAS Explosive Ordnance Assessment Team, and will identify explosive victims for further referral services.
In parallel, UNMAS SRP will provide victim assistance services for 300 people with disabilities, including victims of explosive ordnance, to support their physical and psychological recovery and improvement of quality of life.
Last month marked the 10th anniversary of the crisis in Syria. This was a stark reminder of this humanitarian crisis which is exacerbated by the presence of explosive ordnance. Explosive ordnance is a major protection concern in all areas of Syria. In this context, Japan is one of the core supporters for humanitarian mine action and continues its commitment to support the UNMAS SRP response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Since 2016, Japan’s overall contribution to the UNMAS SRP has now reached more than USD 5.7 million. During the last five years, the continuous contribution from the people of Japan enabled UNMAS SRP to coordinate humanitarian mine action activities, deliver explosive ordnance risk education sessions to more than 265,000 people, and provide tailored support, such as physical rehabilitation, mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS), assistive devices and referral pathways for more than 5,300 most vulnerable people with disabilities including victims of explosive ordnance accidents.
“Japan stays engaged in humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable populations wherever they are in Syria to meet their urgent needs,” said, Mr. Akira Endo, Special Coordinator for Syria and Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Japan in Syria. “The humanitarian crisis in Syria has become more complicated, in particular with the impacts of COVID-19, which deprived thousands of households. We sincerely hope that our contribution will find its way to people in need of assistance and alleviate the sufferings of as many Syrians as possible.”
Mr. Habibulhaq Javed, UNMAS Head of Syria Office, stressed “The contribution from the people of Japan is critical to reducing the threat of explosive ordnance for communities most at risk. Japan and UNMAS SRP will continue our strong commitment to support the Syrian people through humanitarian mine action activities in the country.”
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