SPEECH: UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Minh Pham on the occasion of the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

Apr 4, 2014

Different types of bombs displayed in UXO Lao office, Luang Prabang. Photos: UNDP Lao PDR/Valter Ziantoni

I feel privileged and honored to be here with you this morning as we collectively mark the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

International Mine Awareness Day is a meaningful day for all mine and UXO -affected countries such as Lao PDR. It is a day that we remember the innocent victims and reaffirm our strong commitment to a world free from the threat of mines and other remnants of war.

This day is marked not only here in Lao PDR, but in many other countries around the world, as the problem of mines and UXO is a global one.

This year the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance is dedicated to recognize the role of women in mine action. Women play important roles in global mine action efforts – from clearing landmines and UXO, to teaching people how to live safely in contaminated areas, to assisting victims. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in his message on the International Day of Mine Awareness has called for “greater measures to involve more women at higher levels in mine action”.

In Laos, female demining teams are well known to be some of the best. Teams consisting of women are clearing land every day in Lao PDR, some holding senior explosive ordnance deminer positions.   While progress has been made in Laos, we must continue to promote the role of women in all aspects and management levels of the work, with the aim of achieving greater gender equality and enhancing the empowerment of women.

The 4th of April is dedicated to raise public awareness about the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war and the efforts to eliminate them. It is worth remembering that the vast majority of globally recorded casualties from landmines, cluster munition and other remnants of war are civilians. We in the UN are therefore actively advocating member states to sign both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Whether as a State or as an international development organization, we have a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable people and ensure that their right of access to a life of dignity and security is safeguarded.

Today is also an opportunity to recognize the support of many donors who contribute to the UXO/mine action sector in Laos and around the world. In 2012, more than 40 million US dollars was contributed to the UXO Sector in Lao PDR by the international community.

I will close my remarks by expressing my sincere thanks and appreciation to the Lao government, and to Mr. Bounheuang, for his personal leadership of the UXO work in Lao.

Let me extend, on behalf of the UN, my thanks and gratitude to all our demining colleagues who risk their safety and lives every day in order to save others.

Thank you very much.

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