Canadian media highlights mine crisis in Azerbaijan
Baku, May 19, AZERTAC
The Canadian news portal https://www.thej.ca has posted an article highlighting landmine crisis in Azerbaijan as a result of Armenia's aggressive policy.
Headlined “Three die in mine explosion, highlighting ongoing landmine crisis In Azerbaijan,” the article reads:
Three young men working in the field of mine clearance in Tartar region of Azerbaijan died on April 28, 2023, as a result of yet another mine explosion. This tragedy highlights the ongoing problem of mine contamination in Azerbaijan and the presence of explosive remnants of war (ERW) due to the military occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia from 1991 until 2020.
The occupation ended as a result of the 44-day Patriotic War in 2020. Despite the war ending, mines have been indiscriminately deployed and neither marked nor fenced, continuing to claim lives and pose a major threat to innocent civilians. According to current data, 147,988 hectares (ha) are confirmed as high polluted areas, while 675,570 ha are considered medium and low threat areas.
Since the Trilateral Statement of November 10, 2020, that ended the war, 168 landmine explosions have taken place in Azerbaijan, resulting in 288 victims, including nine children and two women. The total number of victims of landmines and cluster munitions in the last 30 years stands at 3,367. The planting of mines by Armenia on Azerbaijani territory is illegal under international law and violates specific norms of international humanitarian law. Despite international pressure, Armenia has continued to engage in mine-deploying activities, with 3,166 mines produced in Armenia in 2021 being detected and neutralized in Lachin, Kalbajar, and Dashkasan districts of Azerbaijan since August 2022.
Despite being one of the most landmine/ERW contaminated countries in the world, Azerbaijan has consistently supported the purpose of the Ottawa Convention and made contributions to the implementation of its objectives. However, Azerbaijan believes that the Convention has a serious shortcoming by failing to address the responsibility of the state that deployed mines in other states’ territories.
Azerbaijan is of the view that addressing this responsibility is essential in terms of prohibiting the use of anti-personnel landmines and discouraging and preventing aggression. Armenia’s continued destructive policy and posture runs against the Ottawa Convention’s philosophy and objectives and undermines regional security.
The UN Development Programme and the UN Mine Action Service conducted a Mine Action Assessment Mission in Azerbaijan from December 10-16, 2020. The report provided by the mission stated that “extensive and costly mine action will be a precondition for safe reconstruction, IDPs return and sustainable living.”
The government of Azerbaijan recognizes that indiscriminately deployed mines impede the return of former internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the reconstruction, rehabilitation, and socio-economic reintegration of the liberated areas. As such, the government of Azerbaijan regards mine action as one of its national priorities.
In response, Azerbaijan has taken action, demining 74,644.8 ha from landmines and ERW since November 10, 2020, through the Mine Action Agency of Azerbaijan (ANAMA) and other demining operators. The government has set a national SDG on humanitarian demining and actively promotes the introduction of a new dedicated United Nations SDG on humanitarian demining. Azerbaijan has proposed forming a like-minded group of mine-affected countries to address this issue.
The planting of mines by Armenia has resulted in the contamination of vast areas of Azerbaijan. The mines are indiscriminate and continue to claim lives, posing a significant threat to innocent civilians. Despite international pressure, Armenia has continued to engage in mine-deploying activities, undermining the region’s security. The government of Azerbaijan regards mine action as one of its national priorities, recognizing that it is a precondition for safe reconstruction and sustainable living.
Armenia’s continued planting of mines violates specific norms of international humanitarian law, and despite providing minefield records, they constitute a mere 5% of all the mined areas. The ongoing use of mines poses a significant risk to the civilian population and hampers the return of displaced persons. The international community should put pressure on Armenia to stop planting mines and provide accurate information about the location of the mines to facilitate their removal.
In addition to the government’s efforts, various international organizations have been supporting mine clearance activities in Azerbaijan. For instance, the European Union has provided financial assistance of over 11 million euros to support mine clearance efforts in Azerbaijan. The United States has also been providing support in the form of equipment, training, and technical assistance to help Azerbaijan clear landmines and ERW.
Despite these efforts, much more needs to be done to address the ongoing landmine crisis in Azerbaijan. The continued presence of landmines and ERW is a significant threat to the safety and security of the people living in the affected areas. The international community must continue to pressure Armenia to cease its illegal activities and support Azerbaijan in its efforts to clear the contaminated areas.
Furthermore, there needs to be a greater focus on victim assistance and support for those who have been affected by landmines and ERW. This includes providing medical care, rehabilitation services, and support for socio-economic reintegration. The government of Azerbaijan has already taken some steps in this direction, but more needs to be done to ensure that those affected by landmines receive the help they need.
The landmine crisis in Azerbaijan is a humanitarian issue that requires urgent action from the international community. The continued presence of landmines and ERW poses a significant threat to the safety and security of the people living in the affected areas. The government of Azerbaijan is making significant efforts to address the crisis, but much more needs to be done. The international community must continue to pressure Armenia to cease its illegal activities and provide support for mine clearance efforts in Azerbaijan. Furthermore, there needs to be a greater focus on victim assistance and support for socio-economic reintegration. By working together, we can ensure a safer and more secure future for the people of Azerbaijan.”
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