Azerbaijani NGOs addressed letter to UN Secretary-General regarding mines

Azerbaijani NGOs addressed a letter to Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, reports.

The letter reads: "We all know that Mines and Explosive Remnants of War are among the most serious man-made problems of our time. Since 2005, the of 4th April has been observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. On this day people in the world recognize sacrifice of the global mine action community and highlight importance of awareness on landmines and ERW.

Azerbaijan is one of the most contaminated countries. Unfortunately, we are very painfully familiar with horrors of landmines and ERW. Indiscriminate use of mines by Armenia during the 30 years of occupation of the internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan is causing major suffering to civilians even today. The number of mine victims in the last 30 years stands at 3,368 with 501 killed and 238 wounded since November 10, 2020 when the conflict ended.

Humanitarian demining is a key priority for Azerbaijan. Major efforts are underway to strengthen demining capacity through partnership with NGOs, advanced technology, awareness building, female demining teams and mine victims’ assistance programmes. Our country is partnering with several key institutions operating in humanitarian demining including your RC’s Office, UNICEF and UNDP and others. Azerbaijan is also sharing its experience. 2nd International Demining Conference focusing on mine action as the path to reaching SDGs will take place in Azerbaijan at the end of May, 2023. We believe in the peacebuilding potential of humanitarian demining.

We are also grateful to the EU and other donors for their financial support. It should be mentioned that partnering with NGOs is important component of the international assistance. However, the amounts made available to our country are not nearly enough to stop the mine terror and prevent deaths and injuries to our men, women and children.

The liberated areas of Azerbaijan are a grave reminder of the threat posed by mines and explosive remnants of war to civilians. Demining is crucial for reconstruction and rehabilitation. Mines and ERW impede return of forcibly expelled people to their places of origin. Demining is also one of the key preconditions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is for this reason Azerbaijan has decided to introduce a national SDG on demining. With minefields and ERW endangering civilians and hampering socio-economic progress across the globe, it is important to promote demining to achieve the SDGs globally. Azerbaijan proposes a new, dedicated SDG on humanitarian demining.

April 4th is a day to celebrate progress toward the eradication of landmines and ERW. In the meantime, it is a reminder that there is still a long way to go. We count on your valuable partnership in supporting our efforts as we believe they are important for our common goal - a mine free world".

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