Wednesday, November 7, 2012

UNICEF Supports the First Ever Mine Risk Education Workshop in Myanmar

Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 7 November 2012:  UNICEF and the Department of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement, together with Danish Church Aid inaugurated a workshop on Mine Risk Education and Humanitarian Mine Action in Nay Pyi Taw from 7 to 9 November 2012.  The international workshop is the first of its kind held in the country to exchange ideas, experiences and lessons to strengthen common knowledge and advance the Mine Action agenda in Myanmar.
The workshop was inaugurated by the Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, H.E. Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin, UNICEF Representative, Ramesh Shrestha and Danish Church Aid Mine Action Advisor in Myanmar, Ms Kim Warren.
H.E. Minister Dr. Daw Myat Myat Ohn Khin welcomed cooperation from UNICEF and other interested international organization in the area of mine risk education.
In his opening remarks, Ramesh Shrestha described the process of initiating and conducting the first Mine Risk Education Workshops that started in early 2012 with DSW and Danish Church Aid. The establishment of a national Mine Risk Education Working Group and the increasing collaboration with all Government stakeholders, civil society partners as well as different cease fire groups in mine affected areas. He highlighted the need for concerted efforts by all key stakeholders to move this important agenda forward. He further encouraged the Government of Myanmar to ratify the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personal Mines and their Destruction as Myanmar is one of three countries in the Region who have not yet ratified (the other two being Laos and Vietnam) and to allow for mine action and mine clearing.
The international workshop was the first of its kind in Myanmar to exchange ideas, experiences and lessons to strengthen common knowledge and advance the Mine Action agenda in Myanmar. The workshop benefited from the participation of experts from the Cambodian Mine Action Centre as a second stage in south-south cooperation following a study visit - initiated by UNICEF - of Mine Risk Education working group members to Cambodia in August this year.
The 55 participants of the workshop represented members of the Mine Risk Education Working Group, UN agencies, International and National NGOs and specialized international Mine Action Organizations. The Deputy Minister of the President’s Office, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and other Union level ministers and Senior Government Delegates attended the Opening Ceremony.  Senior and technical representatives of these same Ministries as well as of the Ministries of Health, Education, the General Administration Department, Border Affairs, the Myanmar Police Force and Armed Forces (Tatmadaw) officers actively participated throughout the three days.  The Ambassador of the United States of America also made his remarks during the workshop.
In 2012, UNICEF in collaboration with Department of Social Welfare and Dan Church Aid conducted eight workshops on Mine Risk Education in Yangon Mandalay and in mine affected states of Taunggyi (Southern Shan State), Lashio (Northern Shan State), Hpa An (Kayin State) and Myitkyina (Kachin State), Loikaw (Kayah State). Three Training of Trainers were held in Mawlamyine (Mon State), Myitkyina and Loikaw. These workshops were successful with the participation of different Government departments, staff of UN agencies and members of various civil society organizations operating in mine affected areas from Kayin, Mon, Kachin, Kayah, Shan States and Tanintharyi and Bago Regions. 
As agencies and key government stakeholders move forward and innovate in Mine Action in Myanmar, joint planning, coordination and oversight of Mine Action efforts will be essential.  The workshop was a leading step in bringing all relevant stakeholders together to support common approaches to Humanitarian Mine Action.

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