Azerbaijani NGOs appeal to international community regarding threat of landmines created by Armenia (UPDATED)

Society Materials 4 August 2023 18:06 (UTC +04:00)
Asif Mehman
Asif Mehman
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Details added (first version published at 16:20)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, August 4. The leaders of a number of non-governmental organizations operating in Azerbaijan have addressed an appeal to the international community with a call to use the potential of humanitarian demining efforts in the process of peace building.

Trend presents the appeal.

“We, representatives of Azerbaijan's civil society, are appealing to UN Secretary-General Mr. António Guterres, President of the UN General Assembly Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, President of the UN Human Rights Council Mr. Václav Bálek, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mr. Volker Turk, Director of the UN Mine Action Service Ms. Ilene Cohn, leaders and member countries of the European Union and Council of Europe institutions, and the leadership of Great Britain, calling on each of them to strongly support the elimination of the mine threat created by Armenia in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan as soon as possible.

Today, more than 60 countries around the world are facing the threat of landmines. Azerbaijan is in one of the first places among countries most contaminated by mines and unexploded military ordnance. According to preliminary estimates, during the years of occupation, Armenia planted more than a million landmines on Azerbaijani territory.

We are feel the real danger posed by mines and unexploded ordnance in our daily activities. Since the 44-day war in 2020, a total of 303 people have become victims of landmines in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. Fifty-five of them were killed, while others received injuries of varying degree of severity. Among the injured, nine are children and young people and two women. Since 1991, the total number of victims of mines planted by Armenia is approaching 3,400 people.

The government of Azerbaijan is using all the resources available to carry out demining operations in the territories freed from occupation. Nearly a million internally displaced people are eagerly awaiting a safe return to their homeland. In order to return, those areas must be cleared of mines as soon as possible, and there is a great need for international donor support of mine clearance work and victims of mine explosions.

Despite the use of state-of-the-art equipment in demining work, the massive contamination of areas with mines, the geography of planted mines and the lack of accurate minefield maps provided by Armenia are still creating enormous difficulties in identifying and clearing their locations.

Based on our research, we can note that approximately 71 percent of landmine incidents occurred outside the areas that used to be called the “line of contact”. This is further proof that they are intended to target civilians. Landmine incidents were also recorded in destroyed settlements, cemeteries, water springs, road crossings, forests and village paths.

The refusal of the Armenian side to provide accurate minefield maps, the path of deceiving the world community and the imitation of an alleged disclosure of minefield maps do not serve to eliminate the humanitarian disaster. This is also evidence of indifference to the establishment of peace and harmony, sustainable development between the two countries in the future.

The fact that Armenia continues to mine Azerbaijan's territories even after the 44-day war and the discovery of mines produced in 2021 in various areas is yet another in a series of Armenia’s crimes against humanity.

Demining is also one of the key conditions for achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. It is for this reason that Azerbaijan has itself formulated the Sustainable Development Goal of demining and taken it upon itself as a national goal. Azerbaijan proposed a special 18th Sustainable Development Goal on humanitarian demining in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals on a global scale, to establish international partnership in the fight against mines and unexploded ordnance, to mobilize resources, and to pay special attention to mine-affected countries. We believe that this can attract the attention of the world community to the global mine threat.

We, as representatives of civil society organizations, urge you to support the elimination of the mine problem in Azerbaijan, to put pressure on Armenia, and to demonstrate a fair position in the elimination of the mine threat.

We believe in the great potential of humanitarian demining in the peace building process.

At the same time, we count on your valuable partnership, goodwill and support in eliminating the threats posed by mines and unexploded ordnance.

Signed by:

1. Hafiz Safikhanov, Chairman of the Azerbaijan Campaign Against Landmines Public Union

2. Rey Gasimov (Rey Karimoglu), Azerbaijan Mine Victims Association

3. Davud Rahimli, Chairman of the Union of Disabled People's Organizations

4. Azer Allahveranov, Chairman of the Eurasian Platform for Migration Initiatives Public Union

5. Zaur Ibrahimli, Chairman of the “Priority” Socio-Economic Research Center Public Union

6. Umud Mirzayev, Chairman of the International Eurasia Press Fund

7. Nadir Jafarov, Chairman of the “Chirag” Humanitarian and Development Public Union.”