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Working group on mine clearance eyes mine risk awareness

24 June 2021 15:15 (UTC+04:00)
Working group on mine clearance eyes mine risk awareness

By Vafa Ismayilova

The working group on clearing mines and unexploded ordnance on de-occupied territories has held its meeting and mainly focused on mine risk awareness steps, the local media reported on June 24.

The meeting considered issues reflected in reports made about the mine clearance operations on the liberated territories. According to the identified priorities, information was provided on infrastructure, transport, and demining of arable lands.

It was stressed that one of the main criteria for demining activities was to raise awareness about the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance, the involvement of non-governmental organizations in awareness-raising activities to prevent the risk of mine victims. Those attending the meeting exchanged views on the implementation of the Train-the-trainer program with the development of an awareness and training program.

Moreover, the meeting stressed the importance of informing the public about the government agencies' activities in this area through the media, continuing mass awareness, and enlightenment propaganda to prevent accidents that may occur.

The working group was set up at the Interdepartmental Centre operating under the Coordination Headquarters, created for the centralized solution of issues in the Azerbaijani lands liberated from the Armenian occupation.

The meeting was attended by officials from Azerbaijan's Mine Action Agency, the Defence Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, and other relevant agencies.

Over 140 Azerbaijan citizens have been killed or injured in mine explosions since November 10, 2020.

Armenia deliberately and constantly planted mines on Azerbaijani territories, in violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention, thereby being a major threat to regional peace, security and cooperation.

Until the June 12 agreement to hand over 15 Armenian detainees to Armenia in exchange for mine maps for Aghdam, Yerevan refused to provide maps of hundreds of thousands of mines it had planted on the Azerbaijani territories over three decades of occupation.

Azerbaijan's Mine Action Agency defused 7,449 antipersonnel mines, 3,643 anti-tank mines, and 9,033 unexploded munitions from November 10, 2020, to May 31, 2021. In this period, the agency cleared 2,763.5 hectares of mines and unexploded ordnance.

Azerbaijan has made numerous appeals to international organizations and lodged an intergovernmental complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) over Armenia's refusal to provide maps of mines in the formerly occupied territories.

The war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended on November 10 with the signing of a trilateral peace deal by the Azerbaijani, Russian and Armenian leaders.

The peace agreement stipulated the return of Azerbaijan's Armenian-occupied Kalbajar, Aghdam and Lachin regions. Before the signing of the deal, the Azerbaijani army had liberated around 300 villages, settlements, city centres and historic Shusha city. The Azerbaijani army declared a victory against the Armenian troops. The signed agreement obliged Armenia to withdraw its troops from the Azerbaijani lands that it has occupied since the early 1990s.

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