Belgium signed on Wednesday an agreement with the Organization of American States (OAS) to provide financial support for the program “Landmine Victim Assistance in Ecuador and Peru,” carried out by the OAS.
The contribution will help to prolong both countries’ control over their demining programs and ultimately achieve their goals of completion by 2017 in accordance with their commitments under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
During the signing of the agreement, which took place at the Embassy of Belgium in Washington, DC, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, highlighted that the landmine program is one of the most important and recognized of the organization and mentioned the progress that has been made in the area, mainly in Central America.
Recently we celebrated in Nicaragua the success we've had with the countries of Central America, which was declared a couple of years ago a landmine-free zone, he said.
Insulza acknowledged the support received from Member Countries and Permanent Observers to the organization and recalled that, despite the achievements, many challenges remain, especially in the countries of the Southern Cone, on Chile's border with Bolivia and Peru.”
The Permanent Observer of Belgium to the OAS, Ambassador Jan Matthysen, recalled at the ceremony, the diplomatic and programmatic efforts that his country has made since several years in support of the eradication of antipersonnel mines in several countries, and recalled the social and economic implications of this scourge.
Belgium has focused its efforts in promoting the Ottawa Convention and to address this problem at a worldwide level. Assisting the victims and rehabilitating the wounded children, adolescents and young adults is part of this purpose, he said.
The Belgian diplomat stressed that the agreement is not only an occasion to highlight the issue of landmines, but also to emphasize the importance of further strengthening ties between Belgium and Latin America and with the OAS,” concluded the representative of the European country, that has, since becoming a Permanent Observer in 1972, devoted much of its cooperation with the OAS to support the Program for Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines (AICMA).
In the last two decades the OAS has played a key role in the efforts to eliminate anti-personnel mines in the Western Hemisphere. The program initially focused on Central America and soon spread to other countries of the hemisphere where such munitions are still a threat. Its contribution was decisive to the declaration in 2010 of Central America as a mine-free zone, a milestone that represents a significant achievement in promoting the goals of peace and security in the Americas.
The distinctive aspect of the AICMA is its eminently humanitarian nature, as it seeks to re-establish safe and secure living conditions for people, reduce the risk and dangers of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and antipersonnel mines, and return previously mined land to productive use. It is a multilateral program in which, in addition to beneficiary countries, a number of donor and contributing countries, international organizations, and non-governmental entities participate.