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On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the European Union reaffirms its strong commitment to support actions addressing the threats of anti-personnel mines and explosive remnants of war, including improvised explosive devices. For years after a conflict has ended, mines continue to cause dreadful harm, instill fear and stop refugees and internally displaced people from returning to their homes. Mines also continue to strip entire regions of a fair chance of economic recovery and development, and survivors are often condemned to a life of poverty because of their injuries and the lack of rehabilitation services.
To fight against this terrible reality, the European Union is a longstanding major donor for mine action worldwide, providing assistance in various areas ranging from mine clearance, risk education, victims' assistance, stockpile destruction, capacity building, to research and development on mine detection and clearance. In the past five years, we have supported mine action for over €250 million in over 26 mine affected countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, Colombia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, Turkey and Ukraine. We also help mine affected countries to set up or update national strategies for mine clearance and victim assistance, in close cooperation with the United Nations, and other donors and stakeholders. We should always remember that this very difficult and demanding work could not be achieved without the determination and courage of deminers all around the world, who we will always support.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The Convention has been joined by 164 states, establishing a strong international norm and generating a tremendously positive impact. Since then, more than 30 formerly contaminated countries have been declared mine-free, more than 50 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed, and the official trade in anti-personnel mines has ceased to exist. These actions have directly resulted in saving many thousands of lives.
With all its Member States being parties to the Convention, the EU is strongly united in banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. The Convention is an example of what the EU stands for: a rules-based international order, rooted in the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. This is why we urge countries that have not yet done so to accede to the Convention. In view of the 4th Review Conference of the Convention that will take place in Oslo in November this year, the EU together with its Member States will prepare a united position aiming at a strong political message for a mine-free world by 2025 and a concrete action plan on how to achieve this ambitious objective.