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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 187,706,473 sqm of land was cleared and 670,657 mine/ERW have been destroyed. 123 training sessions for 2,335 teachers from 1200 schools in 24 districts have been conducted. 134 "MRE Committees" have been established in 9 targeted districts. According to the program 75 000 textbooks, 4900 manuals and more than 10 000 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, ANAMA organized a press-conference at ANAMA HQs in Baku.

ANAMA MRE department manager welcomed the mass media representatives and briefed the participants on MRE activities conducted by ANAMA in Azerbaijan.

This event has been commemorated by the teachers at 1200 schools in 24 program targeted districts with participation of 52 000 students and all field operating groups including ANAMA implementing NNGO partners in the regions where demining operations take place. The International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF) operators visitedschools, arranged meetings with mine victims, and set up Billboards in contaminated areas in Goranboy and Terter. The second implementing NNGO partner – “RELIEF” Azerbaijan also is active and has executed series of activates in Aghdam and Agjabedy districts on this day.

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was broadcasted through all Azerbaijan TV companies and info agencies.

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.