OSLO, 26 November 2019, – The ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) recently hosted a side event on “Integrated Approaches to Mine Risk Education (MRE) for affected communities in ASEAN Member States” during the Fourth Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention on 25-29 November  in Oslo, Norway.

More than 600 mine action stakeholders from across the globe attended the conference. ARMAC took the opportunity to host  the side event as part of a one-year project supported by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) to develop comprehensive and integrated approaches to MRE.

During the review conference, a representative of the government of Japan extended its commitment to support mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) affected communities and announced that, “the Government of Japan has allocated more than USD 800 million since 1998 to support mine action, including mine clearance, MRE, victim assistance and socio-economic integration activities. MRE remains one of our priorities of support, and the Government of Japan calls for an acceleration of efforts including through enhancing innovation and effectiveness.”

The event gathered more than 50 MRE stakeholders from  range of countries and expert agencies to participate in a briefing of the preliminary results from ARMAC’s study on integrated approaches to MRE in ASEAN Member States through research and national consultative meetings in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Hal Judge, ARMAC MRE expert, presented the preliminary results of ARMAC’s research and consultation which included the scope and complexity of MRE/ERW impacts, the results from consultations with over 150 stakeholders in the five countries, risk analysis, and the many advantages of integrating MRE through reinforcing activities and programs in the ASEAN region.

 Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Director of the Directorate of Mine Action Coordination for the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Agency, emphasised the need for both qualitative and quantitative evaluations of MRE and the exchange of research results.

Further, both  Yosufi and Martha Isabel Hurtado Granada, coordinators of Grupo de Acción Integral contra Minas Antipersonal Colombia, also conveyed that MRE should be targeted to the most vulnerable communities, and may be adapted to specific groups at-risk.

Presenting a global perspective, Matthieu Laruelle, Explosive Ordnance Risk Education Advisor from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), commended ARMAC for its preliminary research, and highlighted the shift in terminology of ‘Mine Risk Education’ to ‘Explosive Ordnance Risk Education’ to better describe the scope of devices the mine action community is addressing.

Rory Loga from GICHD who is International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) Review Board Secretary also updated the participants on the current review of the IMAS.

Concluding the side event, Ly Panharith, Executive Director of ARMAC and Chair of the side event, expressed his dismay concerning the new trend of increased causalities from explosive ordnance (particularly in the Middle East) since 2016.

“Risk education is gaining momentum globally and is likely to feature prominently in the Oslo Action Plan going forward. For ARMAC, risk education will remain a high priority in our work and we will build ARMAC’s regional and international knowledge base and connections,” Panharith said.