Conference On Mine Issue Shines Light Of Hope For Mine-Free Future

(MENAFN- AzerNews)
Conference On Mine Issue Shines Light Of Hope For Mine-Free Future Image
Elnur Enveroglu Read more

Mine threat is still one of the world's most priority problemson the international agenda. The main source of the problem is theconsequences of merciless wars.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijan is at the forefront among thecountries suffering from the mine problem nowadays. The reason forthis is the heavy mining of the Garabagh and Eastern Zangazurregions, which have been under occupation for more than 30 years,especially the former contact lines.

The Conference themed "Mitigating Environmental Impact ofLandmines: Resource Mobilization for Safe and Green Future," andheld for the third time with the initiative of the AzerbaijanRepublic held a mirror to the current problem in the country.

The main point of the conference was remembered with the addressof President Ilham Aliyev to the conference participants. In hisspeech, the head of state pointed out that one of the mostimportant values, human life, is in danger due to the threat oflandmines.

Today, Azerbaijan is carrying out rapid reconstruction works torekindle a new life in the territories freed from occupation. Allthe work done now leads to the full realisation of the Great Returnproject. However, the enemy hiding under the soil still createsserious obstacles to this.

According to President Ilham Aliyev, the landmine problem isdelaying post-conflict elimination. As long as there is death andmisery, the conflict will be refreshed. The only way to get rid ofit is to eliminate the mine problem once and forever.

In addition, the problem of landmines, the scourge of humanity,hinders the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Asthe head of state noted, almost half a decade has passed since theconflict, but the issue is still on the agenda as a seriousproblem.

One of the other dangers and consequences of the mine problem isthe deadly damage it causes to the environment and nature. Sinceman is a part of nature, the poisoning of our environment andturning it into a dangerous area is also included among the topicsof concern. The president of Azerbaijan did not overlook this issueeither. He emphasized that as long as this problem exists, it willlead to more serious threats and once again mentioned theimportance of discussing this issue at COP29, which will be hostedby Azerbaijan at the end of this year.

"Mines that remain unearthed for a long time can lead tohazardous chemical reactions. The soil not in use due to the threatof mines is subjected to erosion and abrasion. Therefore, it isparticularly significant that today's conference is organized inthe run-up to the 29th Session of the Conference of the Parties tothe UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – COP29, whichAzerbaijan will host," the President said.

Mine problem is one of the most serious problems of Azerbaijan thirty years of occupation and then facing the threat oflandmines, as well as human casualties and many unfortunate eventsafter the conflict, is a severe test for the country. The fact thatthe territories are free from occupation does not mean all problemsare resolved. More than 1.5 million mines and countless unexplodedordnance cover about 12 per cent of the de-occupied land. This isindeed, a bitter truth.

Since the end of the war in 2020, 361 Azerbaijani citizens,mostly civilians, have fallen victim to a mine explosion, resultingin 68 deaths and 293 severe injuries. Overall, since the beginningof Armenia's aggression against Azerbaijan, over 3400 of ourcitizens have suffered from mines, including 358 children and 38women. The steady increase in the number of mine victims isassociated with Armenia's refusal to provide accurate maps of themines it planted across Azerbaijan's territory, and with placingbooby traps along the roads, cemeteries, and other civilianfacilities located behind the former line of contact. From 2020 to2023, new mine zones were created stretching up to 500 kilometres,new mines were planted in Azerbaijan.

Certainly, responsibility for that rests with Armenia.

Return of 800 thousand formerly displaced persons isstill outstanding

Challenges Azerbaijan faces on demining also hamper thecountry's development and recovery efforts, creating seriousobstacles for the return of 800 thousand formerly displacedpersons.

President Ilham Aliyev also touched on this issue whileaddressing the conference.

"Humanitarian demining is among the top priorities ofAzerbaijan's state policies, and the foundation of that was laid bythe National Leader of the Azerbaijani people – Heydar Aliyev, the primary body in charge of humanitarian demining inAzerbaijan is the Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan– ANAMA.

So far, some 140 thousand hectares have been cleared of 119,946mines and unexploded ordnances. Yet, mined areas stretch far beyondthat. Mines are easy to plant but mine clearance is a much moredifficult and complex process. In a short span of time, Azerbaijanhas mobilized all its strength and is using the most advanced andcutting-edge technologies available worldwide. We are implementingmeasures to enhance efficiency in mine clearance, and ourcapabilities have significantly improved compared to previousyears. All-women demining teams have also been deployed since lastyear."

Certainly, as mentioned by the President, Azerbaijan iscurrently implementing humanitarian demining at its own expense, adequate political and practical support from theinternational community for mitigating the humanitarianconsequences of mines and demining the affected areas are of utmostsignificance.

At the same time, Azerbaijan has comprehensively informed theinternational community about the landmine problem and brought theproblems to their attention. This is a clear manifestation of theofficial launching of the humanitarian demining initiative in the18th Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. In addition,Azerbaijan's launching initiative to establish a Special ContactGroup on Humanitarian Demining within the Non-Aligned Movement isanother important step towards tackling this issue globally.

Further to the address of the President, he said that in thepast three years, Azerbaijan has hosted a number of internationalconferences, in collaboration with the UN, dedicated to the subjectof mines. Along with being leading platforms for the discussion ofmine action matters, these events draw greater attention to thissignificant problem that troubles humanity in the modern era, Azerbaijan is working with the UN to establish the"Centre of Excellence" to provide education on the mine action. Aletter of intent is due to be signed between the ANAMA and the UNDevelopment Programme on the sidelines of this Conference. Thisnotable development will allow Azerbaijan to share its expertisewith countries that face similar problems.

Today's international event is a clear manifestation ofAzerbaijan's determination to eliminate the existing mine threat inthe South Caucasus region. These events in Baku shine a light ofhope for tomorrow's mine-free future. Each step taken also bringsexperience to the country and creates a fertile environment for ahealthy life for future generations.



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