(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Jordan has become the first country in the Middle East to be free of minefields after completing demining activities in all known mined areas, officials said on Tuesday.
HRH Prince Mired officially announced that Jordan was free of minefields at a celebration yesterday held under the patronage of HRH Crown Prince Hussein, the Regent, and attended by several Royal family members, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, ambassadors from several countries, senior officials and officers and landmine survivors.
By de-mining all known mined areas, Jordan has fulfilled its legal obligation under international law as a State Party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Prince Mired, chairman of the National Committee for Demining and Rehabilitation (NCDR), said.
Jordan, with the support of Norwegian Peoples' Aid, is carrying out verification in and near areas that have been de-mined to ensure that the specified requirements of the convention have been fulfilled, he added.
"The achievement that we are here to celebrate has most meaning for our brave survivors" many of whom are here in the room with us today. We salute you for your spirit and your unparalleled perseverance to continue with your lives in a dignified and productive manner," said the Prince.
"We renew our promise to you that we will try our utmost in the future to cater more and more to your needs."
According to the NCDR, about 300,000 mines were removed from 500 minefields that cover a total area of 60 million square metres in various parts of the Kingdom.
In his speech, Prince Mired voiced appreciation for all donors who enabled the completion of the de-mining process in Jordan.
Norway's crown prince lauded Jordan for fulfilling its commitment to the mine ban treaty.
"This is a significant achievement for Jordan, as mines hinder social and economic development," he said.
Amat Alsoswa, UNDP assistant administrator and regional director for the Arab states, said Jordan declaring itself free of minefields illustrates its leadership and the government's commitment to finding a lasting and comprehensive solution to the humanitarian and socio-economic problems caused by landmines.
"Jordan today is the first country in the Middle East to declare itself free of mines in 2012 as per the deadline set by the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty," she noted.
Alsoswa added that landmines kill one person every 20 minutes, stressing that the consequences of landmines inflict a deep personal and social cost on victims and their families.
In a speech on behalf of Jordanian landmine survivors, Kamel Saadi highlighted the suffering of Jordanians who sustained injuries because of mines.
He noted that most Jordanian landmine survivors either work on the land or live in remote places, adding that the loss of a limb or a severe disability causes tremendous hardship and pain not only for the survivor but for the whole family.
Saadi voiced happiness over the completion of efforts to clear all minefields in Jordan, thus making these lands suitable for development.
At the end of the ceremony, Crown Prince Hussein honoured donors and supporters of the Kingdom's mine clearance activities.