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30/11/2012 by Alan Cole in the UK

Massive progress on global landmine clearance and prohibition, although still work to be done...

NGOs celebrate results on landmine clearance as UN gets set for Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, although more work needed especially to help survivors...

The annual meeting of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty or Ottawa Convention takes place from December 3 to 7 in Geneva, Switzerland...

The meeting to agree on mine clearance programmes, and review stockpile destruction is also expected to hear from several nations that are celebrating landmine free status...

On the eve of what is expected to be a conference celebrating much good news on the subject of landmine clearance, a leading NGO is also announcing a raft of positive results from around the world...

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a 1997 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate, says landmine use by governments is now at a low with mine clearance services benefiting from record levels of funding...

However, assistance to landmine survivors remains an urgent priority...

“The low in anti-personnel landmine use by states this year, the all-time high in mine clearance funding in 2011, and the dramatic reduction in landmine casualty rates compared to one decade ago is a testament to the achievements of the Mine Ban Treaty over the past 15 years and that’s the good news...” explains Mark Hiznay, editor of Landmine Monitor 2012, a report released by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Finland, South Sudan, and Somalia have joined the Mine Ban Treaty since July 2011.

Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Colombia, the report notes have experienced big progress in reducing the number of casualties and human suffering...

160 governments have signed the treaty banning the production, use, transfer and stockpile of landmines, about 80 per cent of countries worldwide.

However, there are clearly still challenges ahead with a total of 4,286 new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants recorded in 2011, or approximately 12 casualties per day, albeit a reduction from 32 casualties per day in 2001...

Whilst only one government, Syria, used anti-personnel landmines in 2012, four governments used anti-personnel mines in 2011: Israel, Libya, Myanmar and Syria, say monitors...

And the report also highlights new challenges including a significant increase in casualties in countries such as Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria...

Those not part of the Treaty include China, Libya, Myanmar, United States and Singapore...

International and national funding for mine action in 2011 was the largest combined total ever at approximately USD 662 million, or USD 25 million more than in 2010.

Despite this record total, set aside funding for victim assistance decreased by 30 per cent from 2010, the lowest level since the Monitor began reporting on such funding in 2007...

Challenges to availability and accessibility of services for survivors were identified in at least 12 countries in 2011, due to declining international assistance as well as heightened or new conflicts...

“While the annual rate of new casualties has decreased greatly during the past decade the total number of survivors in need of victim assistance has continued to grow around the world each year..." Hiznay explains...

"...the promise of the Treaty to adequately address the rights and needs of the hundreds of thousands of survivors must be fulfilled.

“This continues after the stockpiles have been destroyed and clearance completed..."

Despite progress, eliminating the daily impact landmines have on communities will require a “sustained international effort for years to come...” says Hiznay...

Findings from the report include 87 States Parties have officially declared completion of stockpile destruction, collectively destroying more than 46 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines...

A total of 19 States Parties have reported completion of their obligation to clear areas containing anti-personnel mines.

The Monitor, the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC), is coordinated by five NGOs - Handicap International, Mines Action Canada, Action on Armed Violence, Human Rights Watch and Norwegian People’s Aid...

Many landmine NGOs have been reporting progress this year, often using innovative technologies and systems to tackle clearance...

These include MAG - Mines Advisory Group – that runs clearance operations across the world including Somalia, Cambodia and Iraq; and also APOPO, the NGO that trains rats for its mine clearing operations in countries including Mozambique, Thailand and Angola...

Also the Halo Trust that has celebrated this year clearing more than 120,000 landmines from Sri Lanka, enabling 190,000 displaced people to return to their homes...

A reminder that landmine clearance transforms lives, allowing communities to restore normality, return to their properties and livelihoods and build up economic and social infrastructure, including health, education services, agriculture, etc...

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Written and edited in London and Geneva All Xperedon news articles are original and are written by the Xperedon news team. The team is headed in the UK by Alan Cole, an experienced award-winning journalist and copywriter. Alan has previously worked in-house for UK publishers, Pearson Media (Financial Times) and Northcliffe Newspapers, among others, and is an accredited member of the National Union of Journalists, UK.

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