Terrorist groups like Daesh, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), and Al Nusra Front have resorted to land mines and IEDs to spread terror

Calling for effective measures to combat the use of landmines and IEDs that terrorist groups like Daesh, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) and Al Nusra Front undertake to spread terror and threaten innocent civilians, India has emphasized on providing assistance to affected countries without politicizing the issue.

“It is a matter of deep concern that terrorist groups such as Daesh, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), and Al Nusra Front, have resorted to land mines and IEDs as low cost and effective options to spread terror and threaten innocent civilians. We are also witnessing a similar trend in Mali, where peacekeepers have been targeted by IEDs,” Secretary West Vikas Swarup said at the UNSC open debate on ‘Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnership for better delivery’ on Thursday.

“Such usage has only increased; we need to strongly condemn and take effective measures to combat this trend. The countries affected by landmines, particularly with conflict situations, require assistance. We need to provide assistance without politicizing the issue, since it is the people who suffer from this menace,” he added.

The Secretary West said India is fully committed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and is a signatory to all five of its Protocols.

“We attach high priority to the full implementation and universalization of Amended Protocol-II as it strikes the right balance between humanitarian concerns and legitimate defense requirements of States, particularly those with long borders,” he said.

“We have a moratorium on the export and transfer of landmines and are committed towards reducing the dependence on Anti-Personnel Mines (APM’s). We believe that the availability of militarily effective alternative technologies that are also cost-effective can help facilitate the goal of complete elimination of APMs,” the senior MEA official added.

“We remain willing to share our best practices with member states and the United Nations with respect to minimizing damages from IED development and proliferation and stand ready to contribute towards capacity building, victim assistance and victim rehabilitation,” he said.

He added India has enacted the Right of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 which addresses the concerns of persons with disabilities, including landmine survivors.

“In October 2018, the ‘India for Humanity’ initiative was launched as a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary celebrations, with a focus on Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of compassion and service to humanity. Under this initiative, 13 artificial limb fitment camps have been held by India in 12 countries and more than 6500 artificial limbs have been fitted, mainly in Asia and Africa,” the senior MEA official highlighted.

He further said that India’s limb fitment camps have significantly contributed to the physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the persons affected by conflicts and land mines and help them regain their mobility and dignity.

“We are pleased to convey that the limb fitment camps, which aim to provide for the physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the affected persons and help them regain their mobility and dignity, have now been extended up to March 2023. In this context, we acknowledge the association of BMVSS Jaipur, led by Dr D R E Mehta, for contributing artificial limb “Jaipur Foot” for thousands affected by disabilities brought by conflicts and land mines,” he said.

Highlighting India’s contribution to UN peacekeeping operations and assistance towards international demining and rehabilitation efforts, he said, “We have also undertaken specialist training on Counter IED, bomb disposal and de-mining operations with numerous partner countries, including Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.”

“Our 12-member team of experts participated in a joint counter explosive threat task forces training exercise Ardent Defender-2019 in Ontario, Canada. About 130 personnel from 13 African States participated in exercise AFINDEX, a multinational exercise on demining and unexploded ordnance held in India in March 2019. In addition to providing training in demining, India had also provided seven demining teams to clear landmines in the Northern part of Sri Lanka in 2010 which helped facilitate the return of IDPs to rebuild their lives,” he said.