February 7, 2023


Dear Mr. Vugar Suleymanov,

Dear Mr. Sultan Hajiyev,

Dear Mr. Aydin Kerimov,

Dear Partners,

Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with a great pleasure that I am here with you today for the launch of such an important project. A project that will help save lives and allow internally displaced people to return to their homes.

I would like to begin by thanking our Government partners. Presidential Administration for their support to our work, and the Mine Action Agency for their vision and trust in our collaboration. I would also like to thank the European Union for their continuous commitment and financial support as we aim to continue to improve conditions for all without leaving no one behind.

The project “Supporting the Safe Return of Internally Displaced People Through the Capacity Building of the Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA)” is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) alongside the Government of Azerbaijan.

Mines and other explosive ordnance hinder the safe return of internally displaced people, blocks them from accessing their homes and agricultural fields, hence depriving them of opportunities to rebuild their lives.

It is because of this that humanitarian demining is such a critical and essential part of UNDP’s development efforts in Azerbaijan and is one of the top priorities that we share and work on with the Government.

As a trusted partner of choice, UNDP, with its people-centred approach and expertise, has been supporting mine action initiatives for over 25 years and in over 40 countries including Azerbaijan.

Globally, Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) is at the forefront of our efforts to rebuild lives and communities that have become marginalized and rendered vulnerable by conflicts. Mine action translates into sustainable development dividends, particularly jobs, livelihoods, food security, and water and sanitation. At the same time, it is critical to lay the foundation of durable recovery and lasting peace and development.

The 2030 Agenda provides a comprehensive framework to demonstrate and measure humanitarian mine action’s role as a key enabler for sustainable development. The Government of Azerbaijan has ensured, through its efforts, that mine action is fully incorporated into national development planning.

Given its importance, mine action involves many development areas including economy, agriculture, education, and tourism and more, and contributes to the achievement of most Sustainable Development Goals. It removes the barriers to rebuilding more resilient communities, where jobs, livelihoods, health, and human security are crucial.

UNDP is fortunate and proud to have a longstanding partnership with the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action. We have supported demining actions since 1999 having helped the first steps taken by ANAMA at the time. Over the past 20 plus years, UNDP has supported ANAMA in clearing over 850,000 mines and other explosive weapons in Azerbaijan, helping to ensure a safe return for over 160,500 internally displaced children, women, and men.

Over the last two years, we have been honoured to count on the financial support of the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to expand our mine action operations and support in Azerbaijan. Together with our own resources, and among other things, a top team of international experts has been deployed to Azerbaijan, mine action standards have been revised, and the national legislation has been updated.

Today, thanks to the financial support of 4,250,000 EUR from the European Commission Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, and side by side with the Government of Azerbaijan, we start this project to provide support in the safe returning of internally displaced people. The project being signed today will cover 20 Villages and have 33,604 families as direct beneficiaries.

The project will enhance the capacity of local institutions while fostering a unique partnership between local and international NGOs. It will also strengthen ANAMA in information management and application of innovative solutions in mine action.

UNDP aims to support ANAMA in training, equipping, and deploying emergency response teams to detect and destroy mines and unexploded ordnances. In addition, we will work on developing maps for mine detection, procuring mine action equipment, dogs, and rats, developing well trained and well-equipped gender balanced teams, conducting a landmine survey, and prioritizing mine clearance while producing awareness-raising materials and disseminating UXO-awareness messages through digital mediums.

Moreover, this project will help us share our continuous commitment to the principle of leaving no one behind and establish the first female teams in Azerbaijan to perform mine action operations, involving them in a vital activity such as humanitarian demining.

Traditionally mine action is a male dominated profession. This project offers a significant opportunity to promote equality and inclusion and to support the progressive nature of the mine action sector in the country. It will also seek to include career path development plans and opportunities for women in the future. The promotion of women in mine action is a key contributor to many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Let me conclude by reiterating that UNDP is ready to extend its support to the government, to address the rehabilitation and reconstruction needs in the conflict-affected areas, in line with the Government’s priorities. Please count on our experience in sustainable economic growth, the delivery of quality public & social services, and in ensuring environmental protection and green transformation.

Once again, I would like to thank all our partners for their support and participation in this very important project that will help the people of Azerbaijan build forward better.

Thank you.