One of the principle tasks of the OHMA
is to support OAS member states in fulfilling their national demining
plans. The mine clearance efforts supported by the OAS are carried out
by the national authorities through their respective armed forces with
financial and technical support through the OAS. Military trainers and
other technicians, provided by the IADB, carried out courses for
demining personnel of affected recipient countries of the program. While
the manual demining technique has been the most prevalent method of
clearing minefields because of the geographic and climatological
characteristics of the areas where mines are most frequently found,
heavy demining equipment has also been utilized in areas conducive to
using this methods. In specific situations, the use of this equipment
has increased the efficiency, speed and safety of clearance operations.
Mine Risk Education
The mine-risk education
programs supported by the Program aim to reduce the number of
accidents by promoting safe behavior among inhabitants of
mine-affected communities. The programs emphasize involvement by
affected communities in mine awareness initiatives and benefit
from their participation through the exchange of information
about the location of mined areas and explosive devices.
Mine-risk education campaigns have been carried out through
community visits, a variety of national radio messages and
school programs. Additionally, national personnel and AICMA
staff have been trained to provide mine-risk education in
schools and communities in affected areas. In each of the
recipient countries, these campaigns are closely coordinated
with humanitarian demining operations, and over the course of
2006 alone, more than 70,000 people living in mine-affected
areas have been contacted.
The AICMA Program has supported
antipersonnel mine victims since the establishment of the program in
1997. Since its initiation,the program
has attended the necessities of affected communities, providing victims
with transportation from their communities to rehabilitation centers,
lodging, nutrition, prosthetics, therapeutic services, and medicine.
Furthermore, the AICMA Program supports an innovative training and labor
placement program in the country, in collaboration with the national
institutions. During the training courses, mine survivors are trained
in the areas of automobile mechanics, computers, carpentry, shoemaking,
tailoring, cosmetics, and agriculture.
One of the Program's most
important achievements has been accomplished through technical
and financial support to Member States for the destruction of
their antipersonnel mine stockpiles. More than one million
stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed in Argentina,
Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Peru, with
the technical advice of AICMA and financial contributions from
the governments of Canada and Australia. Although this effort
was largely completed in 2004, the Program is also studying
requests from Member States to extend this support to the
destruction of excess or expired stocks of ammunition.
As a natural progression frommine
action activities AICMA has initiated support to Member States in their
efforts to destroy excess or obsolete munitions stockpiles. A pilot
project focused on coordinating destruction efforts was recently
launched in Nicaragua, where more than two thousand tons of munitions
require disposal to eliminate the threat of accidents or other undesired
outcomes. The initial stage of the project is scheduled for completion
in August 2007.
Support for the Ban on
AICMA promotes the interest expressed
in OAS General Assembly Resolutions to make the Americas a landmine-free
zone by coordinating mine action issues and assisting Member States with
the preparation of reporting requirements under the Ottawa Convention.
During the most recent Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention,
which took place in Geneva in September 2006, AICMA representatives
participated in order to share practical achievements of the Program and
lessons learned with other global mine action programs, as well as to
strengthen contacts with international donors. Additionally, AICMA
participated in a workshop on the role of the Caribbean Community in
pursuing the aims of the Ottawa Convention held on 29-30 June 2006 in
Trinidad and Tobago.
A notable element of the AICMA
Program relates to collaborative efforts with other
international and non-governmental organizations. Cooperation
with international entities over the past year, has improved the
efficiency and effectiveness of mine action programs throughout
the Hemisphere by marshalling available resources from these
organizations, particularly in the fields of mine risk education
and victim assistance.