LANDMINE ERADICATION AN ONGOING CHURCH WORLD SERVICE PRIORITY
February 28, 2001, NEW YORK CITY Long involved in the cause of landmine eradication worldwide, Church World Service this year is targeting particular assistance to demining work in Cambodia, Mozambique and Eritrea.
At the same time, CWS is continuing to advocate for a global ban on landmines. As a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Church World Service will participate in a March 5-11 event in Washington, D.C., which will urge the Bush administration and the new Congress to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty.
The statistics are staggering. There are more than 100 million landmines in more than 60 countries. Roughly every 22 minutes, someone is killed or maimed by a landmine. In Cambodia, one in 236 persons is an amputee injured by landmines. It is estimated that it will take more than 100 years to eliminate landmines from Cambodia alone.
These indiscriminate weapons - which do not know the difference between a soldier, a cow, a woman, or a child -- prevent farmers from returning to till their fields when wars are over, damage the environment, stop refugees from returning home, and impede relief and development efforts.
But, clearly, demining efforts are making a difference.
In Cambodia, Church World Service-Cambodia will continue its mine clearance and awareness project in Kompong Thom Province, where more than 300 people have died or been injured since 1997 as the result of landmines or unexploded ordnance.
Through the CWS Mine Clearance Project in Cambodia, CWS has supported efforts of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in clearing minefields and building awareness among Cambodian children and farmers about the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance.
Between 1998-2000, MAG cleared more than 69,000 square meters of land in three different mine fields. In addition, more than 1,166 pieces of unexploded weapons have been removed from random locations and safely destroyed. And between 20,000 and 30,000 villagers, including children, have received mine awareness training since 1997.
In Mozambique and Eritrea, Church World Service is supporting the demining efforts of the Landmine Survivors Network.
Mozambique has endured 25 years of war, leaving more than 300,000 landmines in the ground and injuring at least 10,000 people. For nearly a decade, Mozambique has surveyed for the location of landmines and has initiated intensive clearance work. In 1995, there were 55 mine accidents a month. In 1999, that number had been reduced to 60 a year.
Demining work is just beginning in Eritrea. A war of independence and an ongoing border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia lasted for some 30 years. A cease-fire was signed in July 2000. However, the conflict resulted in the laying of anywhere from 200,000 to more than a million landmines. At least five percent of Eritrea is mined, and more than 500 people were reported victims of landmines between 1994-99.
During the coming year, the Landmine Survivors Network is seeking support for programs in Mozambique and Eritrea that will include making 300 home and hospital visits in each country for landmine survivors and those with limb loss. The Network will provide educational materials for survivors, promote the reintegration of landmine survivors through referrals, links with service providers and direct assistance, and continue development of peer support networks for persons with limb loss.
Church World Service is seeking $150,000 from denominations and individuals for the demining work in Cambodia, Mozambique and Eritrea.
CWS continues to work with partner agencies in a number of countries where landmines take their daily toll, including Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan.
MORE ABOUT THE MARCH 5-11 EVENT
Landmine ban advocates from nearly 50 U.S. states and nearly 100 countries will meet March 5-11 for an event in Washington, D.C.
The weeks events will include the International Campaign to Ban Landmines 2001 General Meeting; the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines Legislative Action Conference and more than 300 meetings with members of Congress; a press conference and giant shoe pile at the Capitol; a reception at the Organization of American States with Keynote Speaker Her Majesty, Queen Noor of Jordan; an interfaith prayer service in honor of landmine victims and survivors; a demonstration and handover of roughly half a million petition signatures across the street from the White House.
The March conference is the first highly organized effort to urge the Bush administration and the new Congress to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty.
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