Since 2005, April 4 has been recognized by the UN General Assembly as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. On this occasion, the Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise (CHDE) of Armenia organized an international roundtable “Together Against Mines” jointly with “Strengthening the Capacities of National Mine Action Authorities in Armenia” project, funded by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund and implemented by UNDP.
During the roundtable speeches were delivered by Director of the CHDE Vaghinak Sargsyan, RA Deputy Minister of Defense Arman Sargsyan, Deputy Head of the UK Embassy to Armenia Victor Clark, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia Natia Natsvlishvili, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia Jan Plešinger, RA Human Rights Defender Kristinne Grigoryan, and other relevant stakeholders.
Vaghinak Sargsyan, Director of the CHDE, welcomed the participants and presented the activities carried out in the mine action field of Armenia as well as current challenges.
“Mine action in Armenia aims to reduce the threat of mines and explosive ordnance as well as its negative impact on social, economic and environmental aspects. Our mission is to clear the lands from mines/explosive ordnance (EO) by making them safe, so that they can be used by local population for cultivation, pasturing or other agricultural purposes. In parallel to the mine/EO/clearance activities, CHDE puts emphasis on raising the awareness of population through education on mine/EO risks and promoting safer behavior. During the last three years, EORE sessions and a range of events have been organized for 18 344 citizens and schoolchildren,” said Vaghinak Sargsyan.
In his turn, RA Deputy Defense Minister and Chairman of the CHDE Advisory Board Arman Sargsyan greeted the participants and highlighted the importance of the event dedicated to the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
Deputy Head of Mission of the British Embassy to Armenia Victor Clark said: “The UK supports the UN Global Project focused on mine action in all regions affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Mines are indiscriminate killers. They do not recognise sides in conflict, nor age or affiliation. They inhibit freedom and limit farming and economic use of the land. The UN play a critical role in coordinating and helping demining agencies rid the South Caucasus of the scourge of landmines.”
“The vision of the United Nations is a world free from the threat of mines, where people can live in a safe environment. In Armenia, UNDP will support the strengthening of capacities of national institutions, in particular, the Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise, which is the national body responsible for the coordination and implementation of mine action activities in the country,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia Natia Natsvlishvili in her remarks.
During the event, the current issues of mine action in the Republic of Armenia, as well as further cooperation with stakeholders were discussed.
On the same day, outdoor events took place on Northern Avenue and in the area of the Moscow Cinema.
On Northern Avenue, the CHDE specialists demonstrated the demining process with detectors and demining tools, wearing relevant personal protective equipment. The Explosive Ordnance Risk Education specialists informed and distributed booklets on safety behavior rules to our citizens.
A theatrical performance on the topic of mine/EO risks and manifestations of safe behavior were demonstrated to people next to the “Moscow” cinema. A group of children from the Art School painted on the topic of mine/EO risks, others danced and played the drums, thus emphasizing the importance of being aware about mine/EO risks.
Finally, children came together to take a photo with posters of #togetheragainstmines stating that they are aware and united.