U.N. reaffirms commitment to mine-free world

The U.N. reiterated its commitment on Thursday to eliminating the threat of explosive remnants of war as an important campaign to enable development, advance peace, save lives and support nations in transition.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made the statement on Thursday to mark International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

"United Nations mine action programs continue to create space for humanitarian relief efforts, peace operations and development initiatives, allowing U.N. staff to deploy and refugees and internally displaced persons to return voluntarily to their homes," Ban said.

The U.N. provides assistance to millions of people in 59 states and six additional areas contaminated by land mines including South Sudan, Lebanon, Laos, Colombia, Cambodia and Afghanistan. Ban said more progress was needed, particularly in Mali and Syria, where explosive weapons have a growing humanitarian impact.

According to the U.N. Mine Action Service, between May 2011 and May 2012, at least 4,286 people were injured or killed in incidents related to mines and explosive remnants of war.

Ban said he was encouraged by the 161 states that agreed to the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention. The convention and the stockpiling, production, use and transfer of anti-personnel mines. State parties to the convention agree to assist landmine victims and destroy anti-personnel mines.

The 14 U.N. departments, funds, programs and agencies that provide various types of services agreed to a new strategy at the end of 2012 to guide U.N. mine action through 2018.

"(The new strategy) sets out a series of steps towards a safer world where individuals and communities can pursue socio-economic development and where survivors are treated as equal members of their societies," Ban said.