Armenia’s ongoing mine terror against Azerbaijan [VIDEO]
By Vugar Khalilov
Despite the fact that about 18 months have passed since the 44-day war between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the latter's land mines continue to endanger human lives in the liberated lands.
Armenia spared no effort to plant land mines on Azerbaijani territory, not only during the 30 years of occupation but also on the eve of their return following the trilateral statement, in order to cause human casualties.
Almost every day, there is news of civilians or military personnel being injured or killed as a result of mine explosions in Azerbaijan's liberated lands.
On April 16, an anti-tank mine was discovered on the road in liberated Kalbajar’s Gunashli village during a visit to the houses of a group of inhabitants.
The mine was discovered thanks to the professionalism and vigilance of the Defence Ministry’s mine-sweeping personnel.
A total of 20 people, including Kalbajar residents, government agencies' representatives and an ITV film crew visited the region. Mine-searching soldier Mardali Ashurov detected the anti-tank mine on the bus route carrying the crew.
If the mine had not been discovered and the delegation had not been notified promptly, the bus carrying them would have exploded as a result of the mine blast, killing all passengers.
The preliminary investigations revealed that the anti-tank mine was planted in the area between November 10 to 25, 2020, to cause mass casualties against the civilians, who would return to their homes following Kalbajar’s handover as a result of a trilateral statement signed by the Armenian, Azerbaijani and Russian leaders to end the war in 2020.
This fact demonstrates that Armenia is continuing its mine warfare against Azerbaijan's civilian population. It should be noted that approximately 80 percent of the mine maps submitted by Armenia to Azerbaijan are incorrect.
Armenia appears to be committing war crimes by concealing the locations of landmines, allowing more innocent people to be killed.
World’s most mine-littered area
Azerbaijani presidential aide Hikmat Hajiyev earlier described as accurate only 25 percent of minefield maps provided by Armenia.
"They planted mines instead of trees in our territories. Both soldiers and civilians were killed and injured in the blasts. Unfortunately, only 25 percent of the mine maps provided by Armenia were useful," Hajiyev said.
He made the statement at a conference on "Humanitarian mine action and sustainable development goals (SDGs)" jointly organized by the Azerbaijan Mine Action Agency (ANAMA) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Baku from March 31 to April 1.
He underlined that millions of mines were planted by Armenians on Azerbaijan’s formerly occupied territories and Azerbaijan is working hard to clear the area of mines.
Hajiyev emphasized that the Azerbaijani regions liberated from Armenian occupation in the second Karabakh war in 2020 are the most mine-littered area in the world.
The presidential aide added that Azerbaijan faces critical issues such as the restoration and reconstruction of liberated territories, as well as the return of internally displaced persons. The threat of mines is one of the most significant obstacles in this regard, and Azerbaijan hopes for serious international support in eliminating this threat.
Azerbaijan’s demining efforts
The Azerbaijani government has made demining a priority, allocating large sums of money to these activities in the liberated areas.
As a result of humanitarian demining activities carried out by ANAMA on the liberated territories some 445.8 hectares of land were cleared, and 362 mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) were neutralized on April 11-16, 2022.
In general, 8372.9 hectares of land were cleared, and 30,572 mines and UXO were defused from November 10, 2020, to April 14, 2022, by ANAMA in the area.
The Defence Ministry’s special engineering troops cleared some 492.06 hectares of land in Aghdam, Kalbajar, Lachin, Gubadli, Shusha, Khojaly and Khojavand regions by neutralizing 71 units of munitions from April 1 to 14, 2022, the ministry reported.
According to the approved action plan, 19 of the ordered projects have already been completed, and work is underway on 14 projects. In general, the Defence Ministry cleared 15,026 hectares of land and neutralized 17,635 mines and UXO.
It was underlined that 13 MEMATT (Mechanical Demining Supply equipment produced by Turkey's ASFAT Company) are expected to be delivered by late April to increase the number of mechanical mine-clearing vehicles to support humanitarian demining activities.
A total of 1,147,872 square meters of land were cleared and 4,097 mines and unexploded ordnance were found in the direction of Aghdam and Fuzuli regions as of April 13, 2022, the Emergencies Ministry reported.
It added that the ministry's 50 mine detection units were involved in clearing the area from mines.
Moreover, the State Border Service cleared some 69 hectares of land defusing 38 mines and unexploded ordnance in April. In general, 775 hectares of land were cleared and 3,102 munitions were neutralized from November 10, 2020, to April 13, 2022, by the State Border Service.
Non-sufficient int’l support
Despite certain nations' support for Azerbaijan's demining activities in the liberated regions, the majority of countries and international organizations specializing in the field have not taken sufficient actions to help Azerbaijan.
ANAMA and UNDP jointly organized a conference on "Humanitarian mine action and sustainable development goals (SDGs)" in Baku from March 31 - to April 1 to draw global attention to the problem.
The event was attended by representatives from 37 countries and important decisions were made as a result of the conference.
The conference aimed to bring key demining sector actors from the international community, mine action operators, government agencies, and civil society together to discuss the importance of humanitarian mine action in addressing the threat of mines to people's lives and livelihoods.
Memorandums of understanding were signed between ANAMA and a number of foreign organizations as part of the conference.
ANAMA, in collaboration with partner countries, conducts demining operations on Azerbaijan's liberated territories. The State Border Service, the Defence Ministry and the Emergencies Ministry also demine the liberated lands.
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.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement on November 10, 2020, to end 44 days of fighting and work toward a comprehensive resolution.