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Anti-landmine campaigner visits New Zealand


Leading international anti-landmine campaigner visits New Zealand

One of the world’s leading anti-landmine campaigners will visit Wellington next week.

Based in Washington DC, Mary Wareham is at the forefront of international efforts to eradicate landmines. A former Wellingtonian, she works for Human Rights Watch as an arms control activist and was part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1997. She is also Global Coordinator of the acclaimed Landmine Monitor initiative.

Mary is visiting New Zealand to give the keynote address at a Soroptimist International conference being held in Wellington over Easter. Soroptimist International is a service organisation for women, with 92,000 members in 124 different countries.

Soroptimists around the world have so far raised more than US$2 million for anti-landmine action programmes, including the Limbs for Life rehabilitation programme for victims of landmines.

Soroptimist International South West Pacific President Elaine Moffat says the issue of landmines continues to be extremely significant, especially given the five-year Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty taking place in Kenya in November this year.

“It is important that we continue to keep pressure on countries throughout the world which are still to eliminate these indiscriminate weapons,” she says.

“Personal landmines have proliferated to such an extent that there is now one landmine for every four people in the world and they don’t just kill soldiers during wars. They kill or maim everyday people who are just trying to go about their everyday business.

“People may ask why New Zealand Soroptimists are working on anti-landmine projects rather than working on projects that are closer to home. Well, we are working on a number of local projects. But we also think it’s very important to be part of a global voice for women on issues that affect women.

“The more we can do to stem the tide of landmines, the safer the world will be for all people including New Zealanders.”

more… More than 250 women from all over the South Pacific region are expected to attend the Soroptimist International South West Pacific 14th Biennial Conference with the theme ‘Strength and Diversity’ being held in Wellington over Easter.

Other speakers at the conference include Former Race Relations Conciliator Gregory Fortuin and MP Winnie Laban.

Other highlights of the conference include a presentation to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary of a thermometer designed to take algal bloom readings in the lake, and the presentation of a special Korowai or Maori cloak woven by Waitara women following the police shooting of Steven Wallace in 2000.

The Governor General Dame Silvia Cartwright will open the conference, which is being held at the Duxton Hotel.

While in Wellington, Mary Wareham will also address a public meeting on the topic “$5 weapons of mass destruction: what’s the big deal?” on Wednesday 7 April at 12.15pm in the Hunter Council Chambers (Room HU 204) at Victoria University.

Her visit to New Zealand follows visits to Iraq and Afghanistan where she has been filming footage for inclusion in a documentary about landmine issues.

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