Mine Action

Landmines are inhumane weapons that, once planted, continue to pose a threat to soldiers and civilians alike. In fact, the vast majority of mine victims are civilians. Children are particularly vulnerable to landmine accidents because of their natural curiosity to pick up strange objects and their limited knowledge about landmine risk. Landmines’ long-term effects hamper economic recovery long after conflicts are over by slowing the repatriation of refugees, obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid, depriving local people of their livelihoods such as farming and forestry, and by preventing children from going to school. Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), which includes cluster munitions, also causes tremendous damage to people living in contaminated areas.
AAR Japan works to educate people on how to protect themselves from the threat of mines and UXO, to help victims, and to remove these weapons from around the globe.


Activities

Mine Risk Educationbanner_white.jpgMine Clearance

Mince Clearancebanner_white.jpgAdvocacy

◆Mine Risk Education

Mine Risk Education in Sudan.

Mine Risk Education in Sudan.

Mine and UXO clearance is typically a slow process, that is, if it ever takes place. If a conflict is still ongoing, clearance teams often cannot access the area at all or new mines will be planted even after clearance. People who live in or around the contaminated area often have no choice but to live with the threat of these weapons for an indefinite period of time. Children pick these weapons up out of curiosity while adults accidentally pick them up when searching for scrap metal to sell—all owing to the fact that they don’t know what mines and UXO look like or where they are likely to be found. Some believe they can only avoid mines by luck. So we educate local people about the risks of mines and UXO to avoid such risks, calling it “mine risk education (MRE).”

We teach...
The colors, shapes, and sizes of mines and UXO
The typical locations where mines and UXO are found
What to do if one encounters a mine or UXO

We use various materials to teach the risks of mines and UXO


We utilize visual and audio materials that local people are familiar with, such as posters, films, and radio programming, to make sure children and people who don’t know how to read also receive the messages. By customizing the contents of the materials to suit the local context in addition to translating the materials into locally understood languages, we ensure our MRE is accessible to everyone who needs it. These customized materials are popular in areas where televisions and magazines are scarce, attracting the attention of many.

We train local people to deliver the MRE messages


Initially, AAR staff had been directly delivering the MRE messages to people living in affected areas. But existing resources could not possibly cover entire areas and population in need of MRE. So we began to train local residents who could educate their fellow community members about mines and UXO. Empowering local members to take charge of the MRE initiative in their own communities was found to be much more effective and sustainable.

◆Victim Assistance

A graduate of the vocational training school maintains a motorbike.

A graduate of the vocational training school who started his own business.

Survivors of mine and UXO accidents not only require immediate medical attention, but also long-term support for rehabilitation, prosthetics, and psychological care as well as social and economic inclusion. When reducing the negative impact of mines and UXO, assisting the survivors is as important as preventing mine and UXO accidents. Through the following activities, we help mine and UXO victims reintegrate into society.


Vocational training
Production and provision of wheel chairs
Rehablilitation

“I am capable of a lot of things!”

In Myanmar, AAR is running a vocational training center (VTC) for persons with disabilities, including those who were disabled by mine accidents. Every year about 150 students learn sewing, hairdressing, or computer skills to take their first step towards realizing their dreams.

Nay Htet Aung

Nay Htet Aung
(male, 25 years old
graduated computer skills course in 2016)

“I joined the military service after graduating from high school, but I got into a mine accident and had my right leg amputated. Now I use a prosthetic leg. At AAR VTC, classes are taught with a lot of care for each student. If I don’t understand something, they offer a follow-up session. Teachers move on to the next subject only after making sure everyone is on the same page. The computers used at the VTC are new, and we can learn how to use the software that is actually used in business. I used to be depressed, thinking “why only me?” after losing my leg, but now that I know I am capable of a lot of things, I am more optimistic. In the future, I’d like to start my own business to make flyers using the computer skills I learned here.”

◆Mine Clearance

Clearing landmines in Afghanistan.

Clearing landmines in Afghanistan.

After a land is contaminated by landmines and UXO as a result of armed conflicts, local residents cannot regain their normal life until the last mine and UXO is removed. “Mine clearance” consists of a number of steps—surveying to determine the presence of mines, marking to demarcate the mine field, the actual clearance, and disposing of excavated mines and UXO through controlled explosions—which all require the utmost discretion and precision. AAR has contributed to clearing thousands of mines in Afghanistan and Cambodia through its partnership with an NGO specialized in demining.


Behind the scenes of mine clearance


To ensure the safe and smooth operation of mine clearance, it is essential that local residents around the target mine field fully understand the importance of the operation. Without thoroughly explaining the purpose of the operation, some may obstruct it thinking that the deminers are looking for valuable objects in their own land, while children may start playing in or around the minefield without knowing that it is dangerous to do so. Without knowing how to distinguish the signs marking the safe areas from dangerous ones, some may step into unsafe areas where demining is still ongoing. To prevent such confusion and risky behavior, AAR holds a dialogue with the local residents to explain how the deminers are clearing mines and UXO so that the local residents can live safely. Through this activity, we are indirectly assisting mine clearance.

Can mines be cleared only manually?


“Can’t you clear mines more effectively using machines?” People ask us often. If the physical environment and conditions allow it, it is possible to demine more efficiently while reducing human risk and cost by utilizing machines and detection animals (mine detection dogs are trained to detect the special odor that is diffused by explosives while detection rats are also recently being used). However, many mine fields exist in steep terrains and jungles where large machines cannot operate. More importantly, if even a single mine is left undetected, that mine continues to pose a threat to the residents. Because of the ultimate goal of demining—to release a land from the threats of mines and UXO so local people can live safely—manual demining is still considered the best method.

◆Advocacy

Lecture by Jody Williams, ICBL founding coordinator.

Lecture by Jody Williams, ICBL founding coordinator.

International treaties to ban anti-personnel landmines (Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction) and cluster munitions (Convention on Cluster Munitions) entered into force on March 1, 1999 and August 1, 2010, respectively. These treaties were realized as a result of strenuous work and collaboration between international organizations, such as the ICBL (International Campaign to Ban Landmines), CMC(Cluster Munition Coalition) and governments. Having ordinary citizens participate in the process of making international treaties was a brand new approach at the time. In 1997, the ICBL was awarded the Noble Peace Prize for its work on the banning of anti-personnel mines.

Campaigning in Japan


AAR has been campaigning to eliminate landmines by publishing a picture book “Flowers, Not Mines” in 1996 in addition to hosting 3 conferences on mine issue in Tokyo. We have also contributed to realizing the mine ban convention through the activities as a member of the ICBL. In 2014, AAR’s national staff from Afghanistan and Sudan reported the state of the mine problem and AAR’s mine action activities in their respective countries to the Japanese members of parliament interested in the mine issue. In January 2015, we held a photo exhibition themed on “women and landmines,” and in February of the same year we also held a charity concert to raise awareness about mines and to fund our mine action projects.

Milestones

Nobel Peace Prize

The ICBL was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

Tokyo NGO Landmine Conferences

AAR Japan hosted three landmine conferences in Tokyo. We were graced by a message from Diana, Princess of Wales, at the first conference in 1997.

Nagano Olympics

AAR Japan petitioned to have Chris Moon, a landmine accident survivor and anti-landmine activist, selected to bring the Olympic Flame into the ceremony stadium in the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

Zero Landmine Campaign

In 2001, in cooperation with Tokyo Broadcasting System(TBS), Warner Music Japan, and Nichion, AAR Japan established the Zero Landmine Campaign Committee. At the call of musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, international artists contributed to the anti-landmine song ‘'Zero Landmine'', with the resulting CD sales and donations enabling the clearing of 3,075,436 square meters of minefields in Cambodia, Angola, Georgia, and Mozambique by March 2006.

Campaign poster of ICBL

Illustrated message to AAR Japan from Jody Williams, ICBL founding coordinator.

Lady Diana, Princess of Wales in a protective suit

Diana, Princess of Wales, tours a minefield in Angola (Photo by Juda Ngwenya, REUTERS)

Anti-landmine activist Chris Moon's signature.

Anti-landmine activist Chris Moon's signature.

The Zero Landmine campaign song CD

The Zero Landmine campaign song CD, including a message from Ryuichi Sakamoto: “Thank you everyone!”

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AAR Japan
7F, Mizuho Building, 2-12-2 Kamiosaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, 141-0021 Japan
Tel: +81-3-5423-4511
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