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Friday 28 October 2016

Daniel Craig calls for more funding for UN anti-mine agency

Published 04/04/2016 | 22:41

Daniel Craig is the UN's global advocate for the elimination of mines and explosive hazards (AP)
Daniel Craig is the UN's global advocate for the elimination of mines and explosive hazards (AP)

James Bond actor Daniel Craig has called for more funding for the UN agency that defuses mines and other unexploded ordnance, saying the work it does increases the chances of survival for people and aid workers in conflict zones around the world.

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Craig, who has played the lead role in four Bond movies including Spectre and Casino Royale, was appointed global advocate for the elimination of mines and explosive hazards last year by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Speaking at the UN as part of International Day for Mine Awareness, Craig said that turmoil around the world created by fighting in countries including Syria, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, underscores the need for nations and individuals to continue funding the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

"I am in awe of the people I work with at UNMAS," he said. "The energy and courage of the men and women in this organisation is astounding."

According to UNMAS, nearly 3,680 people were killed or injured by mines, cluster munitions and other explosive devices including improvised explosive devices in 2014, the most recent year for which data was available, a 12% increase from 2013.

However, international funding for mine action in 2014 was about 417 million US dollars (£292 million), a 23 million dollar (£16.2 million) decrease from 2013, the agency reported.

UNMAS director Agnes Marcaillou said the agency not only defuses bombs but also trains people about unexploded ordnance to minimise the risk of injury, providing victims with prosthetics and counselling, and making it safe for farmers to grow food in former besieged areas.

"Mine action is an integral part of humanitarian action," she said.

Mr Ban said he has highlighted the impact of mines and other explosive remnants of war on civilians in advance of next month's World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul next month.

Mr Ban said more than 2 million Syrians and a half million South Sudanese received training on reducing their exposure to unexploded ordnance over the last year.

"Millions of Syrian people continue to face this deadly threat every day," he said.

In 2015, UNMAS destroyed 168,000 explosive remnants of war and 10,000 land mines, cleared 25 square miles of land and 2,485 miles of roads as well as provided assistance to 22,000 victims among other accomplishments.

UNMAS collaborates with 11 other UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds.

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