A United Nations official said that more than 8 million people in Syria are exposed to the danger of unexploded ordnance and explosive remnants of war as she talked about efforts by the German government to remove these hazards.
In an interview with the German Bild newspaper on Saturday, Agnès Marcaillou, head of the UN mine-clearing service (UNMAS), said that that an estimated 8.2 million men, women, and children are living in communities impacted by explosive hazards.
Marcaillou said that one of the urgent priorities in Syria is to assess the number and criticality of contaminated areas, adding that this will enable UNMAS to determine the resources and time needed to make Syria safe from explosive hazards.
Marcaillou praised Germany’s efforts to support de-mining operations in Syria, noting that UNMAS considers Germany as “its champion.”
“Your country’s steady financial support to tangible and measurable progress in countries of all regions, all over the world including in Syria, is a definite contribution to more effective humanitarian and peace and security,” Marcaillou told the German newspaper.
“Unfortunately, access to all parts of Syria for life-saving assistance in Syria is limited and therefore impedes the United Nation’s ability to carry out these assessments and deliver aid and, of course, mine action assistance, as speedily and efficiently as the UN would like.“
The United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and France, who are waging war against the ISIS extremist group in Syria and Iraq, earlier called for supporting demining efforts and training the local population to undertake the clearing of mines and UXO from residential areas.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that international donors should make mine clearance and raising awareness of explosive hazards a top priority for the protection of civilians, adding that neighboring countries should facilitate access by demining organizations and provide humanitarian assistance to survivors.
HRW is a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The organization won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its efforts to support the Campaign and contributions to a new international diplomacy that is based on humanitarian imperatives. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Arabic 21)