Mogadishu, April 5 (IANS) The United Nations has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting efforts to rid Somalia of the threat from explosive ordnance.

Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Somalia, Anita Kiki Gbeho, on Tuesday expressed commitment to a mine-free Somalia.

“Whether measured in the number of casualties or the scope of economic impediment, the toll being paid by ordinary Somalis because of the dangers posed by explosive ordnance is too high a price to pay,” Gbeho said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

She added the UN in Somalia remains committed to working with Somali authorities and local and international partners to protect civilians and foster peace, security, and development in Somalia, Xinhua news agency reported.

More than 1,200 Somali civilians were killed or injured in 2022 due to explosive ordnance, including explosive remnants of war, landmines, and improvised explosive devices, according to the UN.

It said the explosive ordnance contamination hinders economic recovery and development by making contaminated areas off-limits and preventing access to local livelihoods and essential services, as well as inhibiting people’s freedom of movement.

“On this international day, we especially recognise the courage and dedication of the mine action operators and their commitment to creating a safe and secure environment for all Somalis,” Gbeho said.

According to the UN, explosive ordnance contamination also hampers the delivery of humanitarian assistance, which is vital in some areas of Somalia due to the ongoing drought.

The UN mission said it works hand-in-hand with the Somali government and its federal member states to mitigate the impact of explosive ordnance. At the same time, it works to enhance the capacity of Somali security institutions to lead and coordinate the mine action response. The support includes the provision of explosive ordnance risk reduction, survey and clearance activities, and advocacy and capacity development initiatives to promote adherence to international legal instruments.

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