UNDP, TURKEY BEGINS CLEARING LANDMINES ALONG EASTERN BORDERS

ANKARA, -- Marking the UN's International Day for Mine Awareness, Turkey's Defense Ministry and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched a vast programme of demining and increased surveillance along the country's eastern borders.

"Demining in Turkey is an indispensable part of its border governance and management reforms. Turkey should be commended for its commitment to clearing these landmines in a manner which will provide a more humane and secure way of protecting the borders," said Kamal Malhotra, UNDP's Resident Representative in Turkey, during his welcoming remarks at the project's launch event in Ankara.

Funded by the European Union and the Turkish Government, the 40 million euro initiative will deliver a comprehensive package for security along the borders with Armenian, Azerbaijani, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Border management is regarded as a priority in Turkey's process of accessing the European Union (EU).

In total, the two-year programme will aim to clear 551 minefields covering more than 15 million square meters and destroy a total of 222,000 landmines along the border with Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran. It will also help to purchase surveillance equipment and train border personnel.

By strengthening safety, preventing illegal migration and transnational crime, the programme will contribute to the social and economic development of the region. The process itself will help employ more than 320 local staff in affected communities.

UNDP will build capacities of the National Mine Action Centre (NMAC), Ministry of Interior and the Turkish General Staff as they implement the programme. It will also conduct quality assurance and help with certification and standards verification.

"Mine action is an investment in humanity", the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki moon said on International Mine Action Day. "It helps nurture peaceful societies, where those in need can receive aid, and refugees and internally displaced persons can safely return home, and children can go to school. It provides the safe space to undertake development and reconstruction activities, and lay the foundations of sustainable peace."

Source: Name News Network