Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the use of improvised explosive devices is increasing as conflicts become more urbanized and armed groups spread, and he called on nations to work together to curb the threat posed by those weapons as well as landmines and other remnants of the war.
The UN chief told the Security Council on Thursday that in the past three years UN funding has made more than 560 square kilometers (215 square miles) safe from IEDs in global hotspots from Afghanistan and Iraq to Cambodia and Colombia. This is an area equivalent to 10 times larger than Manhattan that can now be used for buildings, agriculture, markets, schools and roads, he said.
But he added that despite progress from the UN and other organizations, “challenges have intensified”, including from the COVID-19 pandemic restricting access to mine clearance operations.
Guterres said IEDs represent the biggest threat to African Union peacekeepers in both Somalia and Mali. He said mines and other explosive remnants of war were hampering the movement of UN peacekeepers in South Sudan and “new explosive threats” were emerging in the Central African Republic and Congo.
The Secretary-General said 164 countries are parties to the 1997 international treaty against land mining, which prohibits their use, collection, production and transfers and calls for their elimination.
He called on the 33 UN member states that have not ratified it “to do so without delay.”
Among the countries that have not been ratified are the United States, Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Burma, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam.
Vietnam holds the presidency of the Security Council and hosted Thursday’s virtual meeting, chaired by its newly appointed foreign minister, Bui Thanh Son.
“Every year, landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices claim nearly 10,000 casualties, mostly civilians and children in conflict zones like Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen, but also alarming in places like Cambodia, Laos and my country, Vietnam. , where wars ended decades ago, “Bui said.
“It is a reminder of the long-term, destabilizing effects of post-conflict peace-building and lasting peace.”
Bui said that “almost one-fifth of Vietnam’s land areas are still polluted by unexploded ordnance”, and if the clean-up efforts continue at the current pace and with current resources “it will take another hundred years to complete”.
Vikas Swarup, India’s Deputy Foreign Minister, expressed deep concern that terrorist groups, including the Islamic State movement, “have used land mines and IEDs as low-cost and effective opportunities to spread terror and threaten civilians.” innocent. “
“We must strongly condemn and take effective measures to combat this trend,” Swarup said.
US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that the Landmine Monitor report said 5,554 people, most of them “innocent civilians”, were killed or injured globally in 2019 by landmines, cluster munitions and other debris. war explosives.
Thomas-Greenfield said U.S. President Joe Biden “believes we should limit landmine use” and has been clear that he intends to reverse the Trump administration’s policy.
The Pentagon said this week it would maintain a Trump-era policy that allows the use of some anti-personnel landmines that were restricted under former President Barack Obama while conducting a review.
The Security Council adopted a presidential statement calling for enhanced international action against mines, war remnants and IEDs, particularly in conflict zones.
Council members called on all parties to the “armed conflict” to immediately and permanently end all indiscriminate use of explosive devices in violation of international humanitarian law.
(Only the title and photo of this report may have been revised by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated by a published syndicate source.)
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