Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (4 April) to mark International Mine Awareness Day:
Landmines, cluster munitions and booby traps lurk in many countries worldwide – in the ground, in hideouts, and sometimes also in inhabited buildings. Conflict parties continue to use these weapons in combat – and are targeting them against civilians to an increasing degree, for example in residential areas, schools and hospitals. That is unacceptable! Thousands of people are killed and injured year after year. Children out playing are affected particularly frequently. I call on all states to prohibit the production and dissemination of cluster munitions and landmines and to accede to the relevant international conventions. There can be no justification for the use of these murderous weapons.
The perfidious thing about such weapons is the fact that mines and booby traps not only kill and injure immediately, but also make it more difficult to return to normality in many places. Even once hostilities have ceased, the threat posed by mines and booby traps often remains for years, even in times of peace. At the same time, this hinders both the work of humanitarian aid workers and the safe return of internally displaced persons and refugees. I expressly call for safe access to be facilitated without any restrictions, also in crisis areas.
In 2017, we marked the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention on a global ban on anti personnel mines. Many states have now signed up to the ban in what has been a genuine success story. However, the entire international community is called upon to act here. A world without landmine victims must be our common goal.
Landmines, unexploded ordnance and booby traps kill or maim thousands of people around the world each year. That is why Germany is working actively for a global prohibition of anti personnel mines and cluster munitions and is backing measures around the world in the field of mine and ordnance clearance.
With a record amount of 75 million euros set aside for mine and ordnance clearance last year, Germany made an enormous contribution and is thus one of the biggest international donors. Alongside the actual clearance and disposal of ordnance, aid measures focus on victim care and efforts to raise public awareness among the population groups affected.
The countries prioritised include Afghanistan, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, Somalia and Ukraine.