To walk free of landmines in Africa
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Subido el 12 de julio de 2007 por Educamadrid P.
November 29th sees the opening of the first international review conference of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World will be attended by 500 World Leaders, landmine survivors, Nobel peace prize winners and other advocates of the International Campaign to ban landmines. The fact that the conference takes place in the Kenyan capital is significant. Africa is the most landmine infested continent in the world. In a special report from Ethiopia, a Video News Release looks at the extent of the problem, its impact on the local population and what is being done to rid Ethiopia of landmines. Ethiopia is infested with landmines left over from the recent war with Eritrea. A ceasefire is in place since 2000 - but the threat from the landmines remain. In fact, two million landmines are buried in the country, remnants of successive conflicts over the last 70 years. Millions of Ethiopians are at risk every day and the most vulnerable are children. Luwam Tsegay was just eight years old when she stepped on a landmine when gathering cactus fruit. She lost half a leg. About 65% of landmine victims in Ethiopia are children and while the physical damage can be horrific, there can also be psychological scars. Many children drop out of school and become withdrawn. These children need counselling. The Ethiopian Mine Action Office was established in 2002 with a comprehensive action programme embracing mine clearance, victim support and mine risk education. Machines can be used to help with mine clearance and specialist dog units are also being deployed. But most of the de-mining work is undertaken manually. A de-miner with a metal detector works slowly, step by step, examining the ground and verifying it is mine free to a humanitarian standard. A humanitarian standard means that to a depth of 20cms, every square metre can be certified as safe for people to walk, for children to play, and for farmers to work. The 1997 International Mine Ban Treaty is working successfully to put an end to landmines. The treaty requires countries to stop making and using landmines and to undertake to destroy their stockpiles. The European Union is the largest single donor to mine action programmes internationally, providing 700 million Euro in the last five years. The EU also plays a key role in implementing the Mine Ban Treaty, encouraging nations to participate. 48 of Africa's 52 nations are signed up to the Mine Ban Treaty. Ethiopia has signed and is now set to ratify. But 65 countries still live with the hidden terror of landmines, with as many as 20,000 casualties every year. If that number is to decrease, the international community must remain politically and financially committed to ridding the world of landmines.