The new Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic has emerged and compounded the huge challenges of Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) all over the world including the ASEAN Region. In this regard, the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Center (ARMAC) responded by hosting its first Regional Webinar “Explosive Ordnance Risk Education in ASEAN in a Time of Pandemic” today (19 May 2020).
The Regional Webinar gathered more than fifty representatives from explosive ordnance affected ASEAN Member States (AMS), mine action related organisations, academics and individuals from all over the world. Overall, it aimed to identify all potential available means and capabilities to ensure the continuity of EORE operations within affected AMS. Despite the complex challenges, EORE should continue to be provided to the affected communities using alternative safer approaches, where possible, which reduce the risk of spreading the pandemic.
The Webinar was welcomed and introduced by Mr. Ly Panharith, Executive Director of ARMAC. He expressed his appreciation to the participants for their interest to join the webinar, and highlighted the importance of various EORE adaptations that should be considered and the possible new normal in EORE and overall mine action sectors in the aftermath of the pandemic. He also underscored the necessity of exchange of information, experience and good practices since the pandemic brought about an unprecedented challenge to EORE.
At the Webinar, moderated by Mr. Hal Judge, ARMAC EORE Expert, organisations and institutions in the ASEAN Region shared how COVID-19 has affected their mine actions, particularly EORE activities, and their EORE adaptations in response of COVID-19. Meanwhile, Co-Chairs of international EORE Advisory Group, Mr. Sebastian Kasack (Senior Technical Advisor of Mines Advisory Group) and Mr. Hugues Laurenge (Child Protection Specialist of UNICEF), gave presentations on how EORE and COVID-19 delivery methods are being coordinated and integrated in inventive ways.
From a related perspective, Dr. Joanne Durham, Senior Lecturer of Queensland University of Technology, presented an overview of the relation of public health and mine action, as well as the impact of health crisis to mine action including EORE.
In the webinar, national mine (and unexploded ordnance – UXO) action authorities/centres, international organisations and non-governmental organisations shared their experience and strategy in adapting their operations to the COVID-19 pandemic situation. This sharing may help streamline mine action operations in ASEAN region