Avatar photo

Greg Dorey


Part of UK in Ethiopia

4th April 2014

Clearing a Path for Development

Each year on 4 April we observe the United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance. This day aims to raise awareness of the threat caused by landmines to the safety, health and lives of civilian populations, and encourages Governments to develop mine clearance programmes.

MAG deminer, Santino Khamis, working to clear a bridgehead of landmines. Kimodonge Village, Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan
MAG deminer, Santino Khamis, working to clear a bridgehead of landmines. Kimodonge Village, Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan

This global problem has an acute local dimension. Ethiopia is one of the world’s 10 most heavily mined countries – a legacy of the successive conflicts over the last 70 years that have ravaged the Horn of Africa. There are around 2 million landmines here, some dating back to the Italian invasion of 1935. The Tigray and Afar regions in northern Ethiopia bordering Eritrea, and the Somali Region in the east bordering Somalia, are the worst affected areas.

Landmines and abandoned weaponry threaten the lives of 2 million people in Ethiopia, according to an international survey.  Any of them going about their daily business face the threat of being injured or killed by landmines or Unexploded Ordnance (UXO).

Long after a conflict finishes, landmines and Explosive Remnants of War #ERW continue to devastate people’s lives. Around the world, millions of people live alongside land littered by landmines, grenades, rockets and other ammunition. The threat to development is even more far-reaching. Millions of people are prevented from using agricultural land and accessing essential services, such as health and education, because of landmine and ERW contamination.

For over 20 years, the UK has supported some of the poorest countries around the world to clear landmines and Explosive Remnants of War #ERW after conflict. The UK government’s approach to landmines and explosive remnants of war in developing countries is summarised in a policy paper called “Clearing a Path to Development.” The goal of all UK-funded mine action work is to build peace and security and support development in those countries affected.

This process will be helped by  a recent success in a campaign we started in December 2006 – the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty #ArmsTreaty. It took more than 10 years of campaigning and more than 7 years of negotiation. The UK ratified it on 2 April 2014.

This Treaty will make the world a safer place by placing human rights and international humanitarian law at the heart of decisions about the arms trade. For the first time, countries have agreed international rules governing everything from small arms to warships. If these rules are implemented globally and effectively, they have the power to stop the arms from reaching terrorists and criminals and fuelling conflict and instability around the world.

1 comment on “Clearing a Path for Development

Comments are closed.