Spindelegger: "Better protection of civilians from treacherous anti-personnel mines"
Austria supports UN Mine Action Service in Afghanistan
Vienna, 18 December 2012 – Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger is shocked by the fatal incident in the Afghan province of Nangarhar in which ten girls were killed and two injured on Monday. “This tragic accident once again illustrates the acute danger that mines pose to civilians. What is most shocking is that it is especially children who fall victims to these treacherous weapons. Protecting the people of Afghanistan from anti-personnel mines is a matter of urgent necessity.”
Clearing anti-personnel mines has for many years been a priority of Austria's involvement in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the most densely mined countries in the world. More than one million people live in the immediate vicinity of mined areas, most of which are used for agriculture. Every month, 42 civilians are either killed or injured by land mines, more than 50% of them children under 18. Austria is again supporting concrete projects in Afghanistan in the framework of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and has provided 145,000 euros for this purpose.
Anti-personnel mines are internationally shunned by the Ottawa Treaty that prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. The 160 members to the Treaty have also committed themselves to destroy any stockpiles of these weapons, to clear affected areas from mines and to provide the necessary help to the victims.
“Our goal has always been a world without any mines, and this still holds true. The State Conference of the Ottawa Treaty held in the middle of December showed that the international community of states shares and pursues the same objective. I urge all states that have not yet ratified the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to do so to put an end to such horrific accidents soon”, Spindelegger concluded.