Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) is a title defined by the United Nations to meet the definition used in the Ottawa Convention to ban the use of Anti-Personnel mines. HMA covers actions ranging from clearing mine and teaching people how to protect themselves from danger in a mine-affected environment to advocating for a mine-free world.
Despite its name, mine action is not just concerned with landmines. In many countries, unexploded or abandoned ordnance, (UXO or AXO), poses an even greater threat to people’s safety. UXO can comprise bombs, mortars, grenades, missiles or other devices that fail to detonate on impact. Many are live and sensitive and some can kill if touched or moved. One of the main sources of UXO in modern conflicts are cluster munitions. Today, mine-action programmes typically address problems of landmines, UXO, AXO and all the “Explosive Remnants of War” (ERW) that remain after a conflict. These include weapons left behind by armed forces when they leave an area.
There are five aspects or “pillars” of mine action:
- Removing and destroying landmines and explosive remnants of war and marking or fencing off areas contaminated with them.
- Mine-risk education to help people understand the risks they face, identify mines and UXO and learn how to stay out of harm’s way.
- Medical assistance and rehabilitation services to victims, including job skills training and employment opportunities.
- Advocating for a world free from the threat of landmines and encouraging countries to participate in international treaties and conventions designed to end the production, trade, shipment or use of mines.
- Helping countries destroy their stockpiles of mines as required by international agreements, such as the 1999 anti-personnel mine-ban convention.
Landmines affect at least 60 countries and injure or kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people annually. Even when they do not cause direct injury, their presence can prevent economic activity, lead to great hardship, and prevent post-conflict recovery.
Sarvatra and HMA
Our Humanitarian Mine Action priorities vary from country to country depending on the status of the National Mine Action Authority or the UN. In most cases, our objectives will be:
- To carry out post conflict survey of the areas that are suspected or mined and record them as Mine Survey Data Base for prioritization and planning by any National Mine Action Authority that exists, or as determined by the donor funding our activities.
- To achieve the established standards of mine clearance activities i.e. search, locate and destroy Mines and ERW, thereby making the area safe for economic and social activities by the local population.
- To impart Mine Risk Education in order to save lives, limbs and livelihoods through education, information and positive action in areas infested with Mines and ERW.
- To provide prosthetic help in the form of artificial limbs and wheel chairs for the victims of Mines and ERW. Also, to train victims for appropriate economic activities and so assist their reintegration as valuable members of the community.
- To train and employ local as Surveyors, Deminers and MRE professionals. Their income stimulates the local economy and helps to rebuild post-conflict society.
...and, of course, our HMA work is integrated with all our efforts to support Post-Conflict recovery.
Submunitions from Cluster-bombs
UXO Recovered During Demining