In Azerbaijan, the threat of landmines is still on the agenda as the most painful issue. As a result of both the First and Second Karabakh war and the Armenian provocations in the post-conflict period, the mines placed in the Karabakh and East-Zangazur territories of Azerbaijan are still killing hundreds of people.
The main goal of the 2nd international humanitarian demining conference under the theme "Combating the Mine Threat - The Path to Sustainable Development" held in Baku under the joint organization of ANAMA and the United Nations (UN) is to bring the scale of the mine problem faced by Azerbaijan and its consequences to the attention of international community and the interested parties in fight against the mine threat.
Today, there are countries in many parts of the world that suffer from landmines. For example, Middle Eastern countries, Ukraine, Afghanistan and other war-torn countries witness the death of innocent people. Unfortunately, Azerbaijan, which has just liberated its lands from occupation, is also included in those ranks.
This international-level conference, held in Baku on May 24-26, demonstrates global solidarity in combating the mine threat, creating an opportunity to build new partnerships and prepare concrete action plans that will pave the way for a mine-free world.
It is important to note that the discussions to be held within the framework of the conference will contribute to the mobilization of joint efforts in the field of demining and the introduction of new ideas and initiatives towards solving the problem at the global level.
Also, about 190 officials representing 51 countries - former heads of state and government, parliament members of a number of countries, management staff of the UN headquarters, as well as representatives of the diplomatic corps accredited in Azerbaijan - are participating in the conference hosted by Azerbaijan.
It should be noted that the first day of the conference was held on May 25 in Aghdam. As part of the guests' visit to Aghdam, the participants got acquainted with the reconstruction plans and watched the game of amputee football players who were injured in mine explosions.
It should be added that Aghdam is one of the districts in Karabakh that was destroyed and razed by the Armenian invaders the most. As Aghdam was once a battleground for Armenian terrorists, a large number of mines are found there.
In general, Azerbaijan is among the most polluted countries in the world with mines and unexploded ordnance. During the occupation, more than 1.5 million mines were buried in these areas.
After the 44-day war, 302 Azerbaijani citizens became victims of landmines (57 were killed and 245 were injured). In general, since the beginning of the military aggression of Armenia, about 3,400 citizens of Azerbaijan have been harmed by landmines, 587 of them have lost their lives.
However, as mentioned earlier, Armenian provocations did not end with the end of the war. Even after the end of the conflict, Armenia continued to lay mines on the territory of Azerbaijan using the Lachin road, and after 44 days of war, more than 2700 anti-personnel mines manufactured by Armenia in 2021 were discovered in our territory.
Today, humanitarian demining is one of the main priorities of the state policy of Azerbaijan. The foundation of this policy was laid at the initiative of National Leader Heydar Aliyev, and ANAMA was founded 25 years ago.
Azerbaijan sees demining activity in the context of direct connection with stable and sustainable development. That is why humanitarian demining is officially announced as the 18th National Sustainable Development Goal in Azerbaijan.
In addition, demining activities in Azerbaijan today are carried out using the most modern and advanced technologies available in the world. More than 90 percent of our demining activities are carried out at the expense of our country's internal resources, the amount of support from abroad is still very limited.
At the same time, Azerbaijan contributes to the process of humanitarian demining at the global level. Thus, Azerbaijan took the initiative to establish humanitarian demining as the 18th global SDG of the UN, and currently serious work is being done on the idea of creating a Like-minded Group of Mine Affected Countries in the Non-Aligned Movement.