HANOI 16 September 2019 – ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC) concluded the final of a series of national consultative meetings in Hanoi on 16 September as part of the project to develop comprehensive and integrated approach to mine risk education that will build on the best practices of ASEAN Member States (AMS) in educating their populations on the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).

Supported by the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund, the meetings brought those affected by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) together to discuss the AMS’ current approach to MRE and to share their knowledge and experiences in order to build an integrated approach to MRE that can be used throughout the region.

At the meeting in Cambodia on 6 August, Prum Sophakmonkol, Secretary-General of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, remarked that the meeting “presented a good opportunity for Cambodia to further strengthen its national Mine Risk Education (MRE) programme and to document its best practices so that other ASEAN Member States can learn from Cambodia’s experience.”

Meanwhile, U Win Naing Tun, Director General of the Department of Rehabilitation, Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, remarked at the meeting in Myanmar on 13 August that, “nine out of Myanmar’s 15 States/Regions are contaminated with landmines, Explosive Remnant of War. The Mine Risk Working Group (MRWG) was established over seven years ago as an inter-ministerial and inter-agency coordination platform under the co-leadership of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement and UNICEF to ensure mine action interventions are aligned with international standards and lessons learned in Myanmar. The MRWG is now working closely with international forums like ARMAC to better respond to the needs of the affected population. We are glad that experiences from Myanmar will contribute to the integrated approach to Mine Risk Education in ASEAN.”

Following the meeting in Myanmar, a national consultative meeting was also organised in Bangkok, Thailand on 16 August with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand. During the opening remarks, Dr. Suriya Chindawongse, Director-General of the Department of ASEAN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand, mentioned that the project’s implementation is an important step for ASEAN to raise awareness towards the dangers of mines/ERW and the efforts to address them.

At the national consultative meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR on 22 August Thongphane Savanphet, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lao PDR highlighted that Lao has made progress with regards to MRE, integrating unexploded ordinance awareness activities into the primary schools’ curriculum in affected provinces to reduce the risk of further casualties.

On her part, Le Thi Thu, Deputy Director General, Department of ASEAN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam underlined Viet Nam’s commitment in working with AMS in various issues including mine action.

With regards to the importance of the meetings, Executive Director of ARMAC Ly Panharith underscored that, “ARMAC appreciated the inputs from the mine risk education stakeholders in all mine/ERW affected ASEAN Member States (i.e. Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam) which have been handling mine risk education with various innovative approaches. Their experience and knowledge are critical in developing the integrated approach to mine risk education.”

Looking forward, a side event will be held during the Fourth Review Conference on a Mine-Free World on 25-29 November this year in Oslo, Norway, so as to establish a platform for ASEAN countries to form a collaborative community of MRE experts and stakeholders. Ultimately, it is hoped that through these consultative meetings, research and other activities undertaken through the project, the number of victims of mines/ERW can be minimised and in so doing the socio-economic impact of mines is reduced and sustainable development outcomes are improved.

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For more information on ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center, visit https://aseanmineaction.org/