November 30 is a day of remembrance for victims of chemical warfare. On this day the EU reaffirms its support to the universal ban on chemical weapons. “It is a tribute to all those who have lost their lives or loved ones and suffered harm from chemical weapons as well as a commitment to promoting peace and security,” said the EU High Representative. Even if we are approaching an era where an entire category of weapons of mass destruction will have been eradicated, we are still confronted with their use today. The chemical attacks on people in Syria are shocking war crimes and violate international norms. They have caused hundreds of victims, including children.
The goal of a world free of chemical weapons is one the EU is upholding through its support to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The EU has just agreed to continue its funding of the OPCW with €11.6 million over the next three years. The OPCW's mission is to implement the provisions of the Chemical Weapons Convention to achieve a world free of chemical weapons and to address the threat of their use. The work of the Hague-based organisation has been recognised with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.
34-year-old taxi driver Omar Musa, was amongst 40,000 Libyans who, together with his family, had to flee from the city of Tawergha after the 2011 revolution in Libya. People were living in dire conditions in camps spread across the country. Seven years later, Omar was finally able to return home. “When I arrived I was not aware of the danger that I faced. However, I found billboards and posters on the walls near the entrance of the city with emergency phone numbers to report any explosive remnants of war. I did not really understand what that meant at the time." Indeed, in such situations, the EU supports projects to raise awareness about unexploded ordnances and mines, and to help clear people’s properties so that they can return safely home.