Every year on 4th April, the world celebrates the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UNMAS, in collaboration with the Congolese Mine Action Coordination Center (CCLAM), celebrated the event, chaired by the DRC’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Gilbert Kankonde. The national theme adopted for the event was “Toward zero landmine, zero ERW, and zero IED contamination in the DRC.”
This year, the event aimed to sensitize all mine action stakeholders on the progress the DRC Government (GoDRC) has made in respect to its international mine action obligations, and to advocate for support to mine action activities, including victim/survivor assistance.
The DRC Minister of Defense, as well as other members of the Government, representatives of the German, Japanese and Belgian Embassies, representatives of UN agencies, the association of mines/ERW survivors and mine action operators attended.
During her speech, Ms. Fadwa Benmbarek, UNMAS Senior Programme Manager, representing the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, noted the effort that the DRC Government has made to substantially reduce the number of confirmed mine contaminated areas in its territory, and urged donors to continue to support mine action activities in the DRC.
Maitre Sudi Alimasi Kimputu, the CCLAM national coordinator recognized the contribution of UNMAS, donors and mine action operators since 2002, and encouraged to support the DRC in demining – 33 zones left to be demined to be APMBC compliant.
The deputy Prime Minister noted the continuous threat posed by explosive remnants of war and the increased threat against civilians from improvised explosive devices. He also emphasized the rising problem of IEDs planted by the terrorist groups and mentioned the need for more control on small arms and light weapons and ammunition proliferation to protect civilians and reduce violence. He also highlighted the efforts of MONUSCO via UNMAS to support capacity enhancement initiatives in mine action and weapon and ammunition management activities to support the DRC Government.