BiH is still facing a severe problem of mine contamination where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a direct threat to the safety and lives of 545,000 citizens. The seriousness of the problem confirms the data that since 1992, there were some 8,386 mine victims in BiH.
We welcome the 4th of April, the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action with great expectations that may bring, this year, a renewed commitment by the national Mine Action authorities to fulfilling the remaining Mine Ban Treaty obligations. This refers to the state obligation to provide rehabilitation and re-integration support to mine victims. It also refers to the obligation to clear and release all remaining mined territories, as soon as possible, but not later than 2025. And indeed, it is time to “Finish the job”!
Anti-personnel landmines cause suffering and casualties and constitute a serious obstacle to economic development. This inhibits the return of refugees and displaced persons, and obstructs the restoration of normal social and security conditions.
The European Union is strongly committed to the goal of total elimination of anti-personnel landmines in Bosnia and Herzegovina and stands with land mine victims and family rights to assistance and rehabilitation. Since 1996, the EU has invested EUR 46 million in the demining sector in BiH, thus confirming its commitment to this important issue.
World Vision, in partnership with the Organization of amputees “UDAS”, contribute to this goal through the project “Integrated socio-economic support to landmine victims in BiH”. The project is funded by the European Union and provides for socio-economic empowerment of landmine victims and their families in 11 mine-affected municipalities in BiH. 50 landmine survivors will have the opportunity to increase their skills in managing small businesses, receive equipment for their businesses and benefit from technical and expert support on business development. Another 170 family members, including 61 underage children, will also benefit from the project.
The European Union and World Vision have joined their forces in raising awareness on the rights and needs of mine victims and child survivors in BiH. Child survivors must not remain neglected. While the number of child casualties in mine incidents in BiH has decreased over the past decade, many children continue to live in mine-affected communities, where their security and right to safe childhood remain jeopardized. Children who live with a loss of or impairment of a primary caretaker or family breadwinner are confronted with impoverishment. Some children drop out of the school because they need to work or take care of an adult parent. The political leaders and the national mine action authorities are called upon to help “Finish the Job”.