MAP - Friday, November 29th 2019

Anti-personnel Mines: Morocco's Efforts in Raising Awareness and Assisting Victims Highlighted in Oslo

Oslo - Morocco's efforts in raising awareness and assisting victims of anti-personnel mines were highlighted Thursday in Oslo at the Fourth Review Conference of the States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. "To end population’s suffering in all over the territory of the Moroccan Sahara, the Moroccan competent authorities take efficiently in charge victims of anti-personnel mines within the different existing structures of the integrated emergency medical network, according to the gravity of the lesions," Morocco's ambassador to Norway, Lamia Radi, said at the conference.

The diplomat, who leads a delegation that includes officials from the Royal Armed Forces General Staff of the Southern Zone as well as representatives of the ministry of Foreign Affairs, added that each explosion of an anti-personnel mine on the Moroccan territory leads to the opening of a judicial investigation under the supervision of the General Prosecutor, to determine the responsibilities and take the adequate legal actions. The Kingdom of Morocco provides compensation for all the victims of landmines and remnants of war whenever the incident occurred on the Moroccan territory, even if the mines responsible for this incident were posed by the enemies of the territorial integrity of Morocco, she pointed out.

The greatest difficulty faced by Moroccan authorities in their efforts stems from the fact that the enemies of Morocco’s territorial integrity laid mines indiscriminately and without keeping proper records and mapping of those explosive devices, she said. Following its ratification of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (PwD), Morocco has established local Orientation and Assistance Centers for Persons with Disabilities (COAPH), the diplomat said, adding that in the Southern Regions, 10 COAPH are operational.

Their mission is to inform PwD, including anti-personnel mine victims and their families, and orientate them toward relevant administrations and agencies, in regard to their specific needs and requests. The COAPH role is also to give access to social protection allowances, especially those of the Social Cohesion Support Fund.

She also reiterated the commitment of Morocco towards the implementation of the Ottawa Convention obligations and its principles and humanitarian goals, adding that Morocco has actively participated to the elaboration process of the Convention and to all related meetings. Regular campaign are organized on the field and through local radio and television channels with strong involvement of civil society organizations, Radi said, adding that the Royal Armed Forces play a crucial role in raising population’s awareness on risks related to explosive devices.

Furthermore, the Moroccan Red Crescent (MRC) conducts in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), several educational activities on risks posed by mines and remnants of war in the Southern Provinces of Morocco, she pointed out, explaining that these activities consist mainly in awareness campaigns and training for MRC volunteers. During the year of 2018, more than 100 MRC volunteers received trainings on mine risqué education and 127 MRC volunteers were trained in specific first aid.

More than 20.503 people (men and women including more than 14.000 children) benefited from awareness raising campaigns, the ambassador said. The mines of the Defense Line are catalogued according to pre-established laying plans held by Military Engineers Units, she said, adding that these mines have been placed way before the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention and will be eliminated as soon as the artificial regional conflict imposed to Morocco is resolved.

The Oslo Review Conference on a Mine-Free World takes place from 25 to 29 November 2019 in Oslo, where the Mine Ban Convention was adopted in September 1997. The Mine Ban Convention was the result of an unprecedented process involving partnerships between states and civil society organisations. These actors were determined to put an end to the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines and to work towards the common goal of a mine-free world.

The Convention is aimed at saving lives, protecting civilians, assisting survivors, and promoting sustainable development in affected areas. The Oslo Review Conference will take stock of the achievements made since the Maputo Review Conference in 2014, and outline the direction for the implementation of the Convention over the next five years.