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2003.09.19
⊆ THE UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN’S FUND (UNICEF) CALLS FOR ALL STATES PARTIES TO RATIFY AND SIGN MINE BAN TREATY Bangkok, September 18 쭯 Speaking at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, a senior UNICEF official, Rodney Hatfield, urged all countries to ratify and sign the treaty. “Mines are a crime against humanity and especially against children, who suffer the most from death and injury in mine related incidents,” he said. “In the interests of our children, I urge all countries who have not ratified the treaty, and there are many in this region, to do so immediately. It is a disgrace that these weapons are still being produced, sold and planted,” added Hatfield. A UNICEF report, released at the meeting, lists the following countries in the East Asia and Pacific region as being “most severely” affected by mines: Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Thailand and Viet Nam. Other countries also affected by mines but where data on the situation is not as comprehensive include China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Philippines and Republic of Korea. Eighteen States in the region have not ratified the Mine Ban Treaty: Brunei Darussalam, China, Cook Islands, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Federated States of Micronesia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Myanmar, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Viet Nam. Some of the largest stockpiles globally are in the East Asia and Pacific region, namely in China and the Republic of Korea. Other countries holding stockpiles include Brunei Darussalam, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Myanmar, Singapore and Viet Nam. The report, “Impact of Landmines on Children in the East Asia and Pacific Region”, says that anti-personnel mines affect the daily lives of millions of children in the region. It cites a survey carried out in one province of Viet Nam, showing that one third of all deaths caused by mines were among youth or children, and half of all non-fatal mine injuries involved young people. The report urges the universal ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty, including provisions for international assistance to mine-affected countries. In addition to children, victims of mines are “inevitably the poorest and most vulnerable members of society”, according to the UNICEF report. They are farmers, fleeing refugees, displaced families and those returning home, post conflict, to mined villages and lands. Mines kill an estimated 20,000 people in the world every year, with an additional 10,000 being maimed and disabled. The UNICEF report says that 85 percent of children who step on landmines die before reaching hospital. In Afghanistan, more than 30 percent of mine survivors are children. There are still more than 600,000 landmines to be cleared in Afghanistan, while warring factions continue to lay more. The UNICEF report notes that for children who survive mine accidents, the physical injuries are usually more extensive than in adults because of their size: their economic prospects are bleaker than for adult victims and the emotional trauma goes very deep. “The majority of child mine survivors have little chance of going to school, of receiving counseling and of learning skills that could help them adapt to their new condition. Stigmas attached to having a disability may prevent them from marrying when they are older; girl mine survivors are often even more socially marginalized and ostracized. For mine survivors who live far from a rehabilitation clinic, the trip can be prohibitively expensive, long and difficult. Therefore, poor children living in rural areas rarely receive the long-term care they require. Children need frequent medical check-ups, and new prostheses need to be fitted regularly. As the child amputee develops, the bone of the amputation site grows more quickly than the surrounding tissue and may require several amputations.” UNICEF was nominated by the General Assembly as the Focal Point for mine risk education, and teaches mine risk awareness in schools worldwide. It also assists mine survivors, especially children, and supports access to quality medical care and psychological support. In the East Asia and Pacific region, UNICEF has mine action projects in some of most affected countries such as Cambodia (one of the heaviest mined countries in the world), Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Viet Nam. ***
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