Mine Awareness and Action
Mark your Calendars for April 4! Every Deed Matters.
In December 2005, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared April 4 of each year “International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.” I just learned about the declaration a few months ago. “International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action” was a long title for me to rattle off during casual conversation, let alone scribble in a small square on my kitchen calendar. So for personal purposes, I shrunk the official title down to “Mine Awareness and Action Day.” Sorry, UN General Assembly. Sometimes writers edit words.
The “mine” in mine awareness refers to land mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), such as artillery shells and grenades. The international day of observance aims to raise awareness about land mines and make progress toward their eradication. The term, mine awareness, is fairly self-explanatory. Mine action refers to everything from fencing off dangerous areas, to assisting land mine victims and teaching people how to remain safe in a mine-affected environment. A lot to accomplish in a mere twenty-four hours.
Obviously, the world can’t and doesn’t wait until April 4 every year to organize mine awareness and action projects or make information available. The process runs 24/7, with a scope both broad and complex.
Mine Awareness for the Mind
Mines Action Canada published the 81-page “Landmine Monitor 2011″ in October 2011, which included a global land mine overview for 2010-2011. Here are some of the facts the report listed:
- The year, 2010, brought the world a total of 4,191 new casualties from land mines, 5% higher than in 2009 but significantly lower than the 5,502 casualties recorded for 2008.
- Afghanistan accounted for more than a quarter of the total casualties in 2010.
- Of the total land mine/ERW casualties in 2010, at least 70% were civilians.
- Of the total land mine/ERW casualties in 2010, at least 25% were children.
- A total of 72 countries, as well as seven disputed areas, were confirmed or suspected to be mine-affected.
- At least 200 square kilometers of mined areas were cleared by 45 mine action programs in 2010. More than 388,000 antipersonnel mines and over 27,000 anti-vehicle mines were destroyed during the clearance.
- Donors and affected states contributed approximately 637 million dollars in international and national support for mine action in 2010. Donors reported providing 43.6 million dollars to support victim assistance activities. If not for the need to clear land mines, affected countries would have had more money for their health, education and economic growth programs.
- Afghanistan, Angola and Iraq were the top three fund recipients.
- Afghanistan, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq, and Sri Lanka accounted for more than 80 percent of all mine clearance in 2010.
- The report identified 12 producers of land mines. They were China, Cuba, India, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, the United States and Vietnam. However, only India, Pakistan and Myanmar were known to be actively producing land mines.
- Three governments – Israel, Libya and Myanmar – lay antipersonnel mines in 2011. This was an increase from the 2010 report which only identified Myanmar as laying new mines.
Here Are a Few Sites Other than Minds Clearing Landmines to Increase Your Awareness
APOPO HeroRATs APOPO trains rats to detect land mines and tuberculosis.
Find a Better Way is a new charity founded by Sir Bobby Charlton to develop new technology to accelerate the detection and removal of land mines globally.
Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is an international organization that saves lives and builds futures through the destruction of weapons in conflict-affected countries.
Landmines in Africa The Landmines in Africa Blog contains lots of information and multiple links to interesting sites, such as the Halo Trust.
Roots of Peace works to unearth dangerous land mines in war-torn countries and empowers the local communities scarred by these inhumane weapons. By working to build sustainable crops on land once too dangerous to traverse, they transform the scars of conflict into the roots of peace.
For a daily dose of mine awareness, use “Google Alert.”
Mine Action for the Soul
Easy Ways to Spread Information about Land Mines
- Friend/Like the Minds Clearing Landmines Facebook Site.
- Use Facebook and Twitter to recommend the Minds Clearing Land Mines blog, the Minds Clearing Landmines Facebook page, and related sites you like to your friends and followers.
- Send your friends the link to the amazing Parry Gripp HeroRAT musical video.
- At a meeting of an organization you belong to, give a short presentation about the land mine issue.
- And don’t forget to roll up one of your pant-legs on April 4th. Let people know you are showing your solidarity with the campaign for a mine-free world.
Donating to Agencies Involved in Land Mine Clearance Work and Aid to Land Mine Victims
Before donating, try to learn the portion of total expenses an organization actually spends on its charitable programs. In CharityWatch’s view, 60% or greater is reasonable for most charities. The remaining percentage is spent on fundraising and general administration. A 60% program percentage typically indicates a “satisfactory” or “C range” rating. Most highly efficient charities are able to spend 75% or more on programs.
- For example, APOPO HeroRATs spends over 80% of the money it raises on its charitable programs. In January 2012, The Global Journal published its inaugural “Top 100 Best NGOs” list, the first international ranking of its kind. An initial group of 2,000 non-governmental organizations was researched, the list edited and eventually cut to 400, before the final group of 100 was selected – and APOPO came in at number 24.
- Also, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) indicates almost 90% of every donation is spent directly on supporting mine clearance and education programs. MAG was co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. Since 1989, MAG has worked in over 35 countries.
And if you have an innovative new land mine clearance idea, please share it with Minds Clearing Land Mines.
Awareness! Action! Are you ready for April 4? The world awaits the joint contributions of its peoples. Every deed matters.
Laurel Anne Hill
Moderator for Minds Clearing Land Mines