From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Landmine Eradication an Ongoing CWS Priority

Date 28 Feb 2001 09:09:15

National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
Contact: NCC News, 212-870-2227
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February 28, 2001, NEW YORK CITY – Long involved in the cause of
landmine eradication worldwide, Church World Service this year is targeting
particular assistance to demining work in Cambodia, Mozambique and Eritrea.

At the same time, CWS is continuing to advocate for a global ban on
landmines.  As a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines,
Church World Service will participate in a March 5-11 event in Washington,
D.C., which will urge the Bush administration and the new Congress to ratify
the Mine Ban Treaty.

The statistics are staggering.  There are more than 100 million landmines in
more than 60 countries.  Roughly every 22 minutes, someone is killed or
maimed by a landmine.  In Cambodia, one in 236 persons is an amputee injured
by landmines.  It is estimated that it will take more than 100 years to
eliminate landmines from Cambodia alone.

These indiscriminate weapons - which do not know the difference between a
soldier, a cow, a woman, or a child -- prevent farmers from returning to
till their fields when wars are over, damage the environment, stop refugees
from returning home, and impede relief and development efforts.

But, clearly, demining efforts are making a difference.

In Cambodia, Church World Service-Cambodia will continue its mine clearance
and awareness project in Kompong Thom Province, where more than 300 people
have died or been injured since 1997 as the result of landmines or
unexploded ordnance.

Through the CWS Mine Clearance Project in Cambodia, CWS has supported
efforts of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in clearing minefields and
building awareness among Cambodian children and farmers about the dangers of
mines and unexploded ordnance.

Between 1998-2000, MAG cleared more than 69,000 square meters of land in
three different mine fields.  In addition, more than 1,166 pieces of
unexploded weapons have been removed from random locations and safely
destroyed.  And between 20,000 and 30,000 villagers, including children,
have received mine awareness training since 1997.

In Mozambique and Eritrea, Church World Service is supporting the demining
efforts of the Landmine Survivors Network.

Mozambique has endured 25 years of war, leaving more than 300,000 landmines
in the ground and injuring at least 10,000 people.  For nearly a decade,
Mozambique has surveyed for the location of landmines and has initiated
intensive clearance work.  In 1995, there were 55 mine accidents a month. 
In 1999, that number had been reduced to 60 a year.

Demining work is just beginning in Eritrea.  A war of independence and an
ongoing border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia lasted for some 30
years.  A cease-fire was signed in July 2000.  However, the conflict
resulted in the laying of anywhere from 200,000 to more than a million
landmines.  At least five percent of Eritrea is mined, and more than 500
people were reported victims of landmines between 1994-99.

During the coming year, the Landmine Survivors Network is seeking support
for programs in Mozambique and Eritrea that will include making 300 home and
hospital visits in each country for landmine survivors and those with limb
loss.  The Network will provide educational materials for survivors, promote
the reintegration of landmine survivors through referrals, links with
service providers and direct assistance, and continue development of peer
support networks for persons with limb loss.

Church World Service is seeking $150,000 from denominations and individuals
for the demining work in Cambodia, Mozambique and Eritrea.

CWS continues to work with partner agencies in a number of countries where
landmines take their daily toll, including Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, El
Salvador, Ethiopia, Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, Rwanda, Somalia and Sudan.


Landmine ban advocates from nearly 50 U.S. states and nearly 100 countries
will meet March 5-11 for an event in Washington, D.C.

The week’s events will include the International Campaign to Ban
Landmines’ 2001 General Meeting; the U.S. Campaign to Ban
Landmines’ Legislative Action Conference and more than 300 meetings
with members of Congress; a press conference and giant shoe pile at the
Capitol; a reception at the Organization of American States with Keynote
Speaker Her Majesty, Queen Noor of Jordan; an interfaith prayer service in
honor of landmine victims and survivors; a demonstration and handover of
roughly half a million petition signatures across the street from the White

The March conference is the first highly organized effort to urge the Bush
administration and the new Congress to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty.


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