Friday, December 2, 2011

Concern Over New Landmine Use as Summit Ends

PHNOM PENH - Over 100 nations hailed global progress on landmine eradication on Dec. 2 but voiced "deep concern" over the fresh use of the weapon in four countries as a large anti-mine summit ended in Cambodia.
Signatories to the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention expressed "deep concern about new use of anti-personnel mines" in a text adopted after a week-long gathering in the capital Phnom Penh.
It comes after campaigners said last month that Israel, Libya and Syria had joined longstanding offender Myanmar in recently laying the deadly explosives.
Their actions pushed the worldwide use of landmines to a seven-year high in 2011, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
But member states at the meeting also noted "significant progress" made by several nations to live up to the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
Burundi and Nigeria both announced they were mine-free after completing their land clearance obligations, while Turkey said it had fully destroyed its stockpile of some 3 million landmines, after missing an earlier deadline.
Finland was also singled out for praise after it said it was on the verge of becoming the 159th state to join the convention. Somalia is expected to follow in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Myanmar, which has not joined the treaty, encouraged campaigners by taking part in the summit as an observer, suggesting the country was open for dialogue on its stubborn use of the weapon.
Experts warned that many challenges remained as landmines and explosive remnants of war caused 4,191 new casualties in 2010 globally, including more than 1,000 deaths, according to the ICBL.
Delegates vowed to keep up demining efforts despite "difficult financial times".
"In the midst of global economic turmoil there is a concern that states will forget they have an obligation to support each other," Kerry Brinkert, director of the secretariat of the convention, told AFP.
Host country Cambodia, one of the world's most mine-affected places, was promised more funding by Austria and New Zealand.
Cambodia received $24.3 million in aid for its demining activities last year, down from $33.3 million in 2009.

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