The Italian Almanac


Italian News - March 22

A meeting in Rome this week seeks to shake the world into doing more to stop landmines and unexploded ordinances killing and injuring thousands of people every year. The initiative, organized by the Peace Generation association and the Province of Rome, brings together international experts, aid workers, doctors and humanitarian organizations.

"The aim of this forum is to break the current state of inertia among public institutions," said General Fabio Mini, the former commander of KFOR, the NATO-led force in Kosovo. "The tragedy of unexploded mines is one of the factors that stops people in post-conflict areas returning to normal life and therefore blocks those countries' economic and social development". Antipersonnel landmines are indiscriminate killers and maimers - they do not distinguish between soldiers, aid workers, civilians, peacekeepers or children.

More than 80 countries are affected to some degree by landmines or unexploded ordnances. Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Bosnia Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chechnya, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal and Sri Lanka are among the worst affected nations. Ironically, the explosives often cause most damage in countries that are now at peace - landmines do not respect ceasefires. They take away farm land from many poor countries, hold up the repatriation of refugees and displaced people, and hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid. As well as depriving many families of breadwinners, they kill livestock and wild animals and ravage the environment too.

Province of Rome Executive Councillor Vincenzo Vita said the meeting also seeks to set up a permanent working group that will be an "international reference point for this emergency". This body will raise funds and promote projects to clear mined areas and halt the laying, production and stockpiling of mines, as well as boosting efforts to support landmine survivors.