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Azerbaijan Rallies Kenya to Unite Against Landmines Menace
Azerbaijan Rallies Kenya to Unite Against Landmines Menace
| June 3, 2024

Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Musalia Mudavadi, met with Azerbaijan’s envoy to Kenya, Sultan Hajiyev, during a recent courtesy call. Azerbaijan has expressed its interest in partnering with Kenya to address the threat posed by landmines and unexploded ordnances, signaling efforts to strengthen collaboration in combating these hazards.. Photo: Handout

Azerbaijan has announced that it is wooing Kenya to join it in combating the menace of landmines and unexploded ordinances.

The country’s  ambassador to Kenya Sultan Hajiyev said  his country intended to use the third International Conference on Mine Action opening in Azerbaijan that  was held last week as from May 30 to reinforce existing partnerships and establish new alliances towards achieving a mine-free world.

Focusing on the environmental impact of landmines and zooming in on mobilising resources for a safe and green future, the conference also aligns with the lead-up to COP 29, which will be held in Baku later this year.

“Landmines are claiming lives resulting in major economic losses,” Hajiyev said.

“These seeds of death and hatred are making any reconstruction process so much more difficult while also impeding reconciliation.”

The conference  brought together global leaders, experts and stakeholders to collectively explore sustainable solutions and foster international collaboration.

Currently, Azerbaijan is facing a big scale of  landmine and Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) challenge.This is because  it  fell under contaminated areas in early 1990s after the war with Armenia over the Karabakh region recognised by the UN as part of Azerbaijan.

Because it lost territories in the 90s war and liberated them later on following years conflict, Azerbaijan regained access to mine-strewn lands with an estimated 1.5 million landmines and unknown number of landmines, therefore contaminating around 12 per cent of  the country’s territories.

Landmines can remain active for many years, which is making them dangerous if left unremoved. It is estimated that more than 200 landmine explosion incidents occurred in Azerbaijan in the last 3.5 years resulting in 359 victims, including women and children.

According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2023, at least 4,710 casualties of landmines and UXO were recorded in 2022 around the world.

The government of Azerbaijan called upon countries around the world  for solidarity in mine action to contribute to environmental protection and worldwide sustainable development efforts during the 3rd International Conference on “Mitigating the Environmental Impact of Landmines: Resource Mobilization for a Safe and Green Future,” held on Thursday.

The event, held in Zangilan, one of the Azerbaijani districts liberated from Armenian occupation in 2020, brought together over 300 guests from 75 countries to emphasize the importance of mobilizing efforts to combat the threat of landmines.

The conference  focused on  communicating the landmine challenges faced by Azerbaijan to the global community, seeking international partnerships in humanitarian demining, and deliberate ways to mobilize financial resources to  mitigate the environmental impact of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

 President Ilham Aliyev  talked about Azerbaijan’s  serious landmine contamination resulting from nearly 30 years of  war and  seizure of its territories by Armenia, making it one of the most heavily mined countries globally.

“According to initial estimates, roughly 12 percent of the country’s territory is polluted by 1.5 million mines and an unknown number of unexploded ordnances.

Since the end of the war in 2020, 361 of our citizens, mostly civilians, have fallen victim to mine explosions, resulting in 68 deaths and 293 severe injuries. Overall, since the beginning of Armenia’s aggression against Azerbaijan, over 3400 of our citizens have suffered from mines, including 358 children and 38 women,” the letter says.

The Karabakh (Garabagh) and East Zangazur regions of Azerbaijan had been heavily mined by Armenian armed forces since the 1990s. In 1991, Armenia launched a full-blown military assault against Azerbaijan, which lasted until a ceasefire was reached in 1994.

The war led to Armenia occupying 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized territories, resulting in over 30,000 Azerbaijanis killed and one million others expelled from those lands in a brutal ethnic cleansing campaign.

The Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) has cleared nearly 140,000 hectares of land from 119,946 mines and unexploded ordnance to date. According to Azerbaijani government data, international experts estimate that Azerbaijan needs nearly 30 years and $25 billion to resolve demining-related issues.

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