Mine Action Program
The Mine Action Program of the Organization of American States (OAS), known formally as “Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines” (AICMA for its initials in Spanish), continues to function under a series of General Assembly mandates concerning mine action throughout the Americas and maintains its support for a wide range of mine action activities in Six Member States, including:
- Support for humanitarian demining activities, including survey, mapping, marking and clearance;
- Mine risk education for people living in affected areas;
- Victim assistance, including physical and psychological rehabilitation and the socioeconomic reintegration of cleared zones;
- Supervision and assistance for the destruction of stockpiled mines;
- Development of mine action databases; and
- Support for a total ban on use, production, stockpile, sale, or transfer of antipersonnel mines.
During 2004, with the support of the AICMA program, a total of 14,430 mines and unexploded ordnance were destroyed and a total of 513,968.50 m2 cleared in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Peru. The AICMA also supported a short-term assistance mission in the Republic of Suriname. Military trainers and other technical experts provided by the IADB conducted training courses for national deminers from mine-affected countries benefiting from the program. Noteworthy activities in each recipient country include:
- In Guatemala, demining activities have been completed in six departments considered to be high-risk zones, with work underway in the last remaining high-risk departments, as the Guatemalan program moves toward completion by the end of 2005.
- Demining operations in Honduras concluded in June 2004. The country was formally declared mine-safe by the Honduran Government in November 2004, joining Costa Rica as the second OAS Member State to conclude its mine clearance program.
- During 2004, Nicaraguan demining units destroyed nearly 14,000 mines and cleared more than 480,000 square meters of land, as the Nicaraguan program reached 80 per cent completion of the clearance of more than 135,000 mines that were originally emplaced. Nicaragua is projected to complete mine clearance work by the end of 2006, with a significantly reduced effort subsequently planned until mid-2007.
- Along the Peru-Ecuador border, demining operations were concluded in the Ecuadorian Province of Loja in 2004. Peruvian and Ecuadorian authorities have developed a plan to execute reconnaissance operations in the area of “Cordillera del Condor” in the near future.
- In 2005 OHMA supported an assistance mission in the Republic of Suriname employing members of the Honduran Army who carried out initial humanitarian demining and trained Surinamese military deminers, enabling Suriname to complete its national humanitarian demining program in April 2005.
Mine Risk Education
The mine risk education programs supported by the AICMA continue to reduce the risk of death and injury by promoting safe behavior and facilitating solutions to the high risk behavior that is observed in some of the affected communities. Mine risk education campaigns have been carried out through community visits, a variety of national radio messages and school programs. In each of the recipient countries, these campaigns are closely coordinated with demining operations.
The Program has assisted over 800 landmine victims since it was established in Nicaragua with the assistance of the Government of Sweden in 1997. To address the specific needs of affected communities, the Program has provided victims with transportation from their communities to the rehabilitation center, lodging, meals, prostheses, therapy, and medications. In collaboration with the National Technological Institute of Nicaragua, the AICMA program has developed an innovative project for training and job placement for landmine victims in trades including auto mechanics, computer skills, carpentry, shoemaking, tailoring, and cosmetology. In Ecuador and Peru, the Program has developed a database in order to identify all victims of landmine related accidents. Thus far, the Ecuadorian program has provided 5 victims with prostheses and surgical care and has provided partial funding for the training, in El Salvador, of an Ecuadorian mine victim to become a prosthetics technician. In Peru, the Program began collecting data on about 300 landmine victims and provided funds for one victim to travel to Colombia for specialized eye surgery.
The AICMA program continues to support the elimination of stockpiled antipersonnel mines in OAS Member States. The program provided technical and financial assistance to the governments of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru in becoming stockpile-free countries prior to the First Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention. To date more than one million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed in coordination with AICMA, supported largely through contributions from the Government of Canada.
Mine Action Data Base
The Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database has been established for each of the beneficiary countries with the help of national AICMA coordinators and technical support from the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). During the second half of 2004, the GICHD trained AICMA and national personnel in Ecuador and Peru on the use of an integrated global positioning system / direction finder with the objective of enhancing the efficiency of minefield survey activities and ensure accurate data is entered into IMSMA.
Advocacy for the Landmine Ban
The AICMA program continued to promote the interest expressed in OAS General Assembly Resolutions to make the Americas a landmine-free zone. As a key element in Hemispheric coordination and cooperation on mine action issues the AICMA Program sponsors annual region seminars with the most recent held during 2004 in Quito, Ecuador, in preparation for the First Review Conference of the Convention which took place in November 2004 in Nairobi, Kenya. The AICMA program has also continued to participate in various meetings related to the Convention in order to share practical achievements and lessons learned with other global mine action programs, as well as strengthen contacts with international donors.
Coordination with International Entities
Cooperation with international entities over the past year, has improved the efficiency and effectiveness of mine action programs throughout the Hemisphere by marshalling available resources from these organizations, particularly in the fields of preventive education and victim assistance. The Program has maintained close and productive relationships with:
- United Nations, primarily through the U.N. Mine Action Service and the U.N. Children’s Fund;
- Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining;
- Mine Action Information Center at James Madison University;
- World Rehabilitation Fund;
- Physicians for Human Rights.
- South Florida Landmine Action Group; and the
- Achilles Track Club.
The OHMA employs various media to inform the international community of program achievements as well as its outstanding needs which include profiles of the national programs as well as the financial requirements for future implementation. The international donor community has generally responded favorably to meeting program requirements. As mine action activities conclude in Central America during the course of the next twelve to eighteen months, the OHMA anticipates that the overall need for budgetary resources will remain relatively constant for the next four to five years, as program emphasis shifts to Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.