In May 2019, the Japanese Government through the Japan ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) provided the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) with an approximate amount of USD 156,000 funding to enhance Mine Risk Education (MRE) in a number of countries across the ASEAN region.
The funding will go towards supporting a one-year project to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach to MRE that will build on the best practices of ASEAN Member States in educating their populations on the dangers of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).
Currently, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam are affected by mines/ERW, and ARMAC, through a set of consultative meetings, aims to bring these countries together to share their knowledge and experiences to build a regional approach to MRE that can be used throughout the ASEAN context. The Executive Director of ARMAC, Mr. Ly Panharith, explained that “the fundamental goal of the project will be to establish a platform for ASEAN countries to speak to and learn from one another so that a collaborative community of MRE experts and stakeholders can be established.” Going further, Mr. Ly said ARMAC intended “to build upon the already existing successes of MRE in some countries and share these with the broader community so that all ASEAN Member States, and in particular those individuals most at risk, can be educated on how to avoid mines/ERW and what actions to take when encountering them.”
In addition, to the development of an integrated approach to MRE the funding provided by JAIF will also go towards enriching ARMAC’s dissemination of mine/ERW related information to the public through a redesign of its website and social media accounts.
In a similar vein the funding will also support the launch of an MRE magazine that will help to spread awareness on mines/ERW by sharing examples of successes, recent innovations and new approaches as well as case studies highlighting individual ASEAN Member State’s current mine action programmes running in affected communities.
The last component of the MRE project the funding aims to fund is the promotion of the 4th of April as a day of celebration to mark the official ASEAN day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Supporting a ceremony in 2020, the funding will cover an event that brings together government ministries, institutions and organisations involved in the mine/ERW sector to raise awareness on the issue and mobilise resources for mine action in ASEAN.
For its part, the Government of Japan has been a key contributor to mine action in ASEAN for a number of years and has stated that it is committed to “support[ing] efforts to address the humanitarian aspects of landmines and explosive remnants of war in the region through Japan’s support in financial and technical assistance, and capacity building.” The recent funding issued to ARMAC will go a long way to achieving Japan’s goal to support mine action, and will also directly assist those most vulnerable to mines/ERW in living safe and productive lives.
(ARMAC 30 May 2019)