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UN Urges Greater Efforts To Rid World Of Landmines

Annan Urges Greater Efforts To Rid World Of Landmines

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today welcomed progress in clearing anti-personnel mines in recent years, but warned that these indiscriminate weapons continue to exact a heavy civilian toll.

"Anti-personnel mines still kill and maim innocent people every day, and hold back entire communities in working their way out of poverty," Mr. Annan, who is in New York, told the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World by satellite hook-up. "We cannot rest until all landmines are cleared, and these indiscriminate weapons banished forever."

He hailed the progress made since the adoption, five years ago, of the Anti-personnel Mine-Ban, which has 144 States parties, and pledged the UN's full backing for the Summit's goals.

The Secretary-General urged pressure on States, "including some of the world's largest," to become parties to the treaty, and called for assistance to help poor countries meet their obligations to clear mined areas. The United States and the Russian Federation have not signed the pact.

Mr. Annan also called attention to the problem of explosive remnants of war, urging all countries to ratify Protocol V to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which deals with that ordnance.

"Today, 14 UN agencies, programmes, departments and funds are working in mine action in more than 30 countries," he said. "We will sustain our efforts, and we will do our best to help improve coordination, since each year, more and more organizations are joining this great cause."

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