The United Kingdom, through its Department for International Development (DFID) has committed to clearing a further 20 km² of land and 1,000 km more of priority routes for humanitarian aid delivery in Afghanistan and Sudan, in partnership with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). This funding is part of DFID’s global efforts to address the landmine issue through a multi-year £100 million UK aid package announced last year.
The demining work in Afghanistan will help clear land in some of the most impacted parts of Afghanistan , which remains one of the most mine-affected countries in the world with approximately 2,160 victims of mines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) recorded in 2017 alone. With UK aid, UNMAS will deliver survey and clearance of high priority hazardous areas and mine/ERW risk education to at risk communities and vulnerable populations and will continue its efforts to advise and assist the national authority, the Afghan Directorate for Mine Action Coordination (DMAC).
In Sudan, with UK aid, UNMAS will focus on the reduction of casualties and the safe delivery of humanitarian aid through survey, clearance and risk education in South Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces. In addition, UNMAS will assist the Government of Sudan to meet its obligations under Article 5 of Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) by 2023 through effective mine action coordination and monitoring of humanitarian mine action countrywide.
The United Kingdom has been a leader globally in its financial and political support to end the lethal legacy of landmines and ERW. Since 2015, the British Government has provided £19.8 million to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (UN VTF) for UNMAS projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya and Gaza. With the support of the United Kingdom and its other donors, last year UNMAS cleared or released 98 km² of land and 8,800 km of road destroying nearly 200,000 mines, items of ERW and IEDs during this process. In addition, UNMAS reached over two million women, girls, men and boys with targeted risk education messaging and provided services to 5,800 victims of conflict.
“The United Nations is very grateful to the United Kingdom for its longstanding commitment to mine action and we look forward to a productive partnership with DFID in Afghanistan and Sudan”, said Agnès Marcaillou, Director of UNMAS. “Mine action is a prerequisite for the delivery of emergency humanitarian assistance and protects the most vulnerable and under-served people therefore contributing to the inclusive vision of the 2030 Agenda ‘ensuring that no one is left behind.’”
“It is unforgiveable that more innocent children than ever are being maimed or killed by landmines which have been left behind by decades of devastating wars. One wrong step on the way to school or during a game with friends can cost a life or cause a lifetime of pain and suffering,” stated Penny Mordaunt, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom. “Today we are extending UK aid support to help save an extra 50,000 people in future years by educating them about the dangers of mines and also by decontaminating land littered with the devices. This will allow the poorest people to grow crops and their children to walk to school in areas which were once off limits.”
Notes to Editors:
The support from DFID is £24 million to the UN VTF to support UNMAS in Afghanistan and Sudan through 2020. £20 million is earmarked for Afghanistan, while the remaining £4 million will be used in Sudan.
For further information please contact:
Kurt Chesko, Donor Relations Officer, UNMAS – chesko[at]un.org