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UNMEE MACC weekly update: 13 Apr 2007

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International Day for M ine Awareness and Mine Action Assistance commemorated on 4 April 2007.

Joining the rest of the international community on Wednesday 4 April 2007 to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Mine Action Assistance, a series of displays was held at the Expo site in Asmara. To celebrate the day, representa-tives of the government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, members of Non Governmental Organizations, representatives of UN agencies, staff of UNMEE MACC and invited guests were present at this special ceremony. The event was opened after the school children of Asmara made a public awareness demonstration, which started from Red Sea High school all the way to the Expo grounds by making mine awareness slogans referring " Stay Away from Mines and UXOs", "Mines are Dangerous", as well as "A Mine Free world" were some of the slogans during the demonstration.

At the ceremony, speakers acknowledged the scourge of land-mines around the globe and particularly in Eritrea, They ac-knowledged the excellent work of demining operations to date and the fact there is still plenty of work to be done.

Speaking at the function, the UN Resident Representative in Eritrea, Mr. Macleod Nyirongo and Brigadier General Tesfay Isaac from the EDA, acknowledged the work of the organizing committee from the UNMEE MACC, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information and Eri-trean Red Cross Society who participated and made an excellent effort in the event collectively.

The two Mine Risk Education (MRE) Teams of the MACC prepared different mine awareness activities and displayed MRE materials such as a mine-garden demonstrations, MRE games with the children, MRE Video presentation in different languages, different MRE post-ers as well as books related to Mine Action programmes. In addition, general operational Mine Action activities were prepared by the MACC EOD Team and MECHEM demining capacity (mechanical, manual and Mine Detection Dogs) as well as a display of medical evacuation procedures.

Finally the commemoration wound up in grand style with the children performing different cultural songs, poems, and mine awareness dramas for the public awareness.

The International day of Mine awareness and Mine Action Assistance provides an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical activities towards of a mine free world. The International Day of Mine Awareness annually draws attention to the global landmine problems and presents another opportunity to remind the public that the global landmine problem still exists while also recognizing that great progress has been made in reducing the threat against mines in the world.

The Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon Statement on International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, 4 April, 2007.

This Day is a reminder that millions of people in nearly 80 countries still live in fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war. These devices continue to claim

15,000 new victims each year. They take an unaccept-able toll on lives and limbs. They wreak havoc on people's livelihoods. They block access to land, roads, and basic services. But this Day is also an occasion to take stock of the progress in our common efforts to combat the scourge of landmines and explosive remnants of war. Thanks to the concerted efforts of all -- Member States, the United Nations, non-Governmental organizations and the mine-affected countries themselves -- we have seen real gains in our mine action efforts.

Since the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty opened for signature 10 years ago, 153 countries have ratified or adhered to it. About 40 million stockpiled anti-personnel landmines have been destroyed. Production, sale and transfer of anti-personnel mines have almost stopped. Large mined areas have been cleared. Victims are receiving more and better assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration. A system has been put into practice for assisting the Parties in fulfilling treaty obligations.

In another important step forward, the 32 States parties to the new Protocol Five to the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention will meet for the first time in November to consider how best to address the devastating humanitarian hazard of explosive remnants of war. And the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- the fastest negotiated international human rights text in history -- opened for signature on 30 March 2007. Its objective is to ensure all human rights for all persons, regardless of their disabilities.

Today, I encourage all States who have not yet done so to accede to all these treaties as soon as possible.I call upon all States Parties to honour their obligations under the treaties, including the commitment, for those in a position to do so, to render assistance to affected States and victims in need.

And I reiterate my call on the international community to address immediately the horrendous humanitarian effects of cluster munitions. These indiscriminately kill and maim civilians, just as easily and frequently as landmines do. International outrage has driven a large group of countries to pursue a new international treaty to deal with these weapons, thus complementing and reinforcing other on-going efforts. I applaud and en-courage all endeavours to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the impact of cluster munitions on civilians.

There are enormous challenges ahead in the quest for a safer world -- from achieving more effective coordination and mobilization of resources at the international level, to building better capacity at the national and local levels. All of us can do our part to raise awareness of the need to overcome them. On this Day, let us vow to redouble our efforts in that direction.

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