BAKU, Azerbaijan, October 2. Karabakh is an example of why the world needs new solution to the problem of landmines, Trend reports via Qatar's Al Jazeera TV channel's report.
Since the events in Ukraine started, Kyiv is facing a major mining problem. With an estimated 160,000 square kilometres contaminated by landmines, thus, Ukraine is now one of the world’s most heavily mined countries. To put that in perspective, that is an area almost double the size of Ireland.
"To evaluate the scale of the problem, look to the Karabakh region in the South Caucasus. In the early 1990s, it became one of the most intensely-mined areas on Earth after the first Karabakh War between Azerbaijan and Armenia. A conflict in late 2020 reversed much of the territory the former had lost in the first conflict – and granted it access to mine-strewn lands. Azerbaijan has since begun making the liberated territories safe for post-conflict reconstruction. To date, 514 square kilometers have been cleared. For those involved in the industry, this may sound impressive, but 11,270 square kilometers still remain uninhabitable," the material stated.
The problem with mine clearance is the cost. Azerbaijan is better economically placed than most to fund activities and still, it could only clear 514 square kilometers in two years. In general, the countries that need demining the most are those least able to afford it, as conflicts that contaminate territories with landmines also shatter economies. To ensure funding, a landmine-free world should be made a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), alongside the 17 interlinked global goals to be achieved by 2030.
"This idea was put forward and discussed at the Humanitarian Conference on Mine Action, organized by the Azerbaijan Mine Action Agency and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Baku earlier this year. Current international treaties are not enough, nor are national programmes," the report informed.
According to a report by the demining monitor Mine Action Review, only 153.4 square kilometer were cleared across the world in 2020. It also rated less than a quarter of national demining programmes as 'good' or 'very good'; the rest were too underfunded to make any significant progress.
"However, if demining is given Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) status, the benefits would be felt immediately," the material said.
"Landmine-strewn lands are not a new problem. But a new solution is needed. If we are to ever see a world free of them, we need to see them as a social development issue, rather than a technical or military one," the report concluded.