“Stop Debris of War, Plant Flowers of Hope”- A Mine Action Week

“Stop Debris of War, Plant Flowers of Hope”-A Mine Action Week organized by Eden Social Welfare Foundation with Cooperation of Taiwan AID

Landmines have been one of the challenges for humanitarian aid and development workers. Every year about 4,000 people were get hurt or killed by landmines or another explosive remnant of war.  Thousands of people are still threatened by landmines in some 60 countries today, while tens of thousands of landmine survivors are facing challenges in rehabilitation and community reintegration. In addition, emplaced landmines deprive communities of productive land and delay peace processes and impede countries’ development for years. Taiwan also suffered from the weapons for more than 50 years but cleared all minefields in 2013 and compensated to landmine survivors. It is now time to reflect on what Taiwan can do to join the global mine action efforts.

“Mine Action” is a concept developed and promoted by the United Nations and other international communities to both prevent and to address the problems caused by mines. However, this important development-related issue is rarely discussed in Taiwan. Therefore, the Eden Social Welfare Foundation organized a mine action week called “Stop Debris of War, Plant Flowers of Hope” from June 11th to 21st 2015, with goals to raise public awareness on the scourge of global landmine problems, to encourage the Taiwanese aid and development community to engage in mine action projects, and to empower youth landmine survivors in the Asia Pacific. 12 experts and landmine survivors from Norway, Canada, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nepal, South Korea and Japan were invited to Taipei for the events.

The Mine Action Week started with an international symposium titled “Mine Action: International Security and Development” co-organized by Eden and Taiwan Aid. The symposium covered three topics: demining, advocacy, and victim assistance. Over 100 participants joined the conference, including academics, staffs from lawmakers’ offices, professionals from aid and development sector, governmental officials, and representatives from foreign missions. The conference concluded with a session discussing international cooperation. International experts called upon Taiwan to get involved by funding the mine action projects, sharing Taiwan’s successful demining experiences to other countries, and encouraging youth involvements in this international humanitarian campaign.

In addition to the symposium, Eden also invited three youth landmine survivors from Nepal, Sri Lanka and Vietnam to Taiwan for a week of training and campaign, hoping to empower these youths with disabilities to become advocates for global humanitarian and human rights laws. Furthermore, a 10-day Mine Action Photo Exhibition was organized at Bopiliao Historical Block which attracted more than 2,300 visitors. Landmine survivors, artists with disabilities and demining experts from Taiwan were invited to share their experiences during special sessions. Youth landmine survivors also shared their stories during the Exhibition and dialogues with Taiwanese youth with disabilities. Their stories touched many people and also motivated many people to support the cause of mine ban campaign.

Related report: Taiwan can make major contribution to clearing landmines: NGO http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20150612000015&c...

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