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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR MINE AWARENESS AND ASSISTANCE IN MINE ACTION

April 4 as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was declared by the UN General Assembly and observed in 2006 for the first time. It calls for continued efforts by states, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.

Landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to kill or injure as many as 2,000 people a month around the world today. The overwhelming majority of victims are civilians who trigger the devices years or even decades after a conflict has ended.

Azerbaijan suffering from mine and ERW problem in a result of the military aggression of Armenia over Azerbaijan's territory. Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) was established by the Presidential Decree in July 1998 to coordinate the mine action program to deal with mine/ERW problem in the country through clearance of lands from mine/ERW as well as implementation of Mine Risk Education and Mine Victim Support activities.

Up to now 283,053,372 m2 of land was cleared and 689,960 mine/ERW have been destroyed. 181 training sessions for 3,635 teachers from 1200 schools in 24 districts have been conducted. 158 "MRE Committees" have been established in 10 targeted districts. According to the program 99 000 textbooks, 6 400 manuals and more than 14 000 MRE posters have been distributed.

Within the frames of Mine Victim Assistance activities - medical check and treatment in sanatorium, the carpet-weaving workshop formed for disabled people and their family members, integration of mine victims into society through vocational rehabilitation and facilitating income generation for their families, distribution of wheelchairs for mine disabled persons, the Community Based Small Business Trainings and Micro-credit Revolving Fund for Azerbaijan Mine Survivors Projects are being implemented.

In order to commemorate April 4, at the beginning of the year, all team leaders, supervisors working for ANAMA and NGO implementing partners were sent activity plans by the MRE department manager. All events almost started during the 1-4 April in all operations ongoing areas including border closed and frontline districts.

So, April 4 has been commemorated by the teachers at 1200 schools in 24 program targeted districts with thousands of students and teachers, operators working in the field including ANAMA implementing NNGO partners in operations ongoing districts as well.

The International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) operators visited schools, arranged meetings with mine/war victims, met teachers and
 students at schools, set up billboards in contaminated areas in targeted districts. With the participation and financial support of “FINCA Azerbaijan” Non-Banking Credit organization, the IEPF officers held different events and meetings. So, with the participation of District Executive Authority heads, they planted 400 trees which were grown by AMZA (Azerbaijan Mine Victims Association) in refugee camps in Agjabedy district. Meetings for school teachers and students by the group leaders and de-miners held in Shixarkh and Takhtakorpu IDP settlements, too. The official representatives once again stressed the efficiency and significance of the activities dedicated to the International Day.

The second implementing NNGO partner – “DAYAQ” Azerbaijan was also active and executed series of activates in Aghdam and Agjabedy districts on that day. İn its turn, ANAMA Fizuli and Aghstafa Regional Base officers held also different types of activities which ended with distribution of awareness and education materials.

More than ten information bulletins and newspapers in Azerbaijan placed large articles and stories, illustrating this International Day, on their pages.

Of course, all these activities will allow once again to highlight the importance of the Day and to keep the cause in the spotlight in Azerbaijan where the challenges in this field are very acute.