HDI Participates in BLIA’s Landmine Education Event in Queens, NY
June 25, 2010
Presentations focused on the challenges surrounding landmine removal in the developing world and the obstacles they place on business and agriculture. Steve Ginther from HDI began his presentation with an overview of HDI’s programs in Southeast Asia. Takuto Kubo, representing UNMAS, spoke about the importance of mine action programs around the world and how the United Nations is addressing the issue. Mr. Kubo informed BLIA members that there are still seventy-eight countries affected by land mines and unexploded ordinance. He explained some of clearance options available including manual removal, the use of mine sniffing dogs, and also mechanical removal. Mr. Kubo also spoke about how the UN is supporting mine risk education and victim assistance for those injured by landmine accidents.
Songkane Luangmuninthone from the Mission of Lao People’s Democratic Republic to the United Nations spoke specifically about the landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem in his country. He emphasized the prevalence of the problem by stating that a quarter of all the villages in Lao and half of his nation’s arable land is contaminated by UXO. Mr. Luangmuninthone also stressed the threat they pose to children and to adult males who are key members of the labor force. As such, the Lao government focuses on mine risk education and victim assistance as well as on clearance of the mines.
The audience demonstrated a great deal of interest in the issue and peppered the panelists with questions about how they could become involved in mine action programs and about the efficiency of victim assistance programs in affected countries. Funding for this program was provided by the U.S. Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.