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AMAE held a side event in the margins of the Tenth Meeting of the States Parties of the AMBC
3 December, 2010

During the 10 Tenth Meeting of the State Parties to the Mine Ban Convention, AMAE in cooperation with UNDP/BCPR and GICHD took the opportunity to organize a side event on the “Transition of Mine Action capacities to clearance of ERW/AXO and stockpiled ammunition disposal – the case of Albania”. The aim of this side event was to explore the potential use of the existing mine action capacities in Albania  now that the clearance of mined areas has been completed and transition of mine action capacities come into play. Clearance Quality Management, Risk Education, Victim Assistance and Information System (IMSMA) monitoring and coordinating capacities could now be utilized in other relevant areas such as the stockpiled ammunition disposal and hotspot clearance.

The benefits from the utilization of the existing capacities has also been highlighted during the Cartagena Summit, where the paragraph 97 of the Cartagena Review reads: “The States Parties have come to see that the lessons derived from fulfilling Article 5 obligations are applicable in addressing related challenges associated with other explosive remnants of war”. In many instances, the organisational structures, the capacities that have been built and the standards that have been established largely as a result of the need to implement Article 5 are also being applied to address weapons contamination more broadly.

In line with the above, several presentations were delivered during the side event: AMAE Director made a presentation on the past activities in Mine Action and the possible transition to hotspots clearance and stockpiled Ammunition Disposal Programme in Albania.The UNDP/BCPR Conflict Prevention & Recovery specialist, Mr. Reuben McCarthy made an important presentation on the UNDP role to the AMAE transition process. Another presentation was on the International Ammunition Technical Guidelines presented by Mr. Daniël Prins – Chief on Conventional Arms at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. Presentation on the Regional Approach to Stockpile reduction (RASR) was made by Ms. Jasna Lazarevic, Small Arms Survey (SAS).

The presentations in the side event provided a very good opportunity for discussion between the participants and the panel of presenters and positive feedback was received from several partners including donor countries representatives.  

 
 
 
Albania Takes Over the Presidency in – Office of the Ottawa Convention on the Ban of Use, Stockpile, Production and Destruction of Anti-Personnel Mines”
3 December 2010

On 29 November 2010, the 10th Meeting of the Party States of the Ottawa Convention on “the Prohibition of Use, Stockpile, Production, Transfer and on Destruction of Anti-Personnel Mines” started in Geneva, marking also the first meeting of the Party States after the Second Review Kartagena Conference. At this Meeting, the representatives of Party States handed over to Albania the rotating Presidency of this Convention for a one- year period and elected Mr. Gazmend Turdiu, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as President of the Deliberations of this Convention until November 2011.

Albanian Delegation was headed by Mr. Selim Belortaja, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and composed of Mr. Arian Starova, Deputy Minister of Defence and the Chairman of AMAC, Mr. Saimir Repishti - Head of the UN Section at the MFA, Mr. Arben Braha, AMAE Director and Mr. Veri Dogjani, AMAE’s Victim Assistance Coordinator.The delegation member’s attended the meeting's sessions as they involved in discussions and presented the latest developments in the victim assistance sector in Albania. In the open ceremony, Mr. Belortaja was among the panel to delivered an address to express the Albania’s commitment during the Presidency of the Tenth Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention.

During the one year period of the Albanian Presidency, a series of important events are expected to be held: meetings of the Coordinating Committee of the State Parties to the Convention; promotion of the universality of the Convention; organization of some regional events, among others one in Albania on the assistance for the mine survivors as well as chairing the intermediary meetings of the Convention until the 11th Meeting of the Party States, set to be held in Cambodia in November 2011.

The 10th Meeting assessed the accomplishments of the Party States in meeting the obligations stemming from the Convention towards the achievement of its ultimate goal “ For a World free from Mines” This Meeting also tackled and reached the relevant decisions on important issues of the Convention, as reported on the destruction of anti-personnel mines, clearance of mined fields, support for the survivors, strengthening in the assistance and international cooperation in reaching these goals and the assessment of the Supporting Unit of the implementation of the Convention. The Convention on the Ban of Use, Stockpile, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction of the year 1997 was adopted in Oslo and was opened for signature in Ottawa. It has 159 Party States, which have already signed and ratified the Convention.

 
 
 
The First Meeting of the State Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions
9-12 November, 2010

A delegation from the Republic of Albania, consisting of Deputy Minister of Defence/Chairman of the Albanian Mine Action Committee (AMAC), Mr. Arian Starova, in the quality of the Head of the Delegation, representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE), attended the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was held in Vientiane, Laos, from 9 to 12 November 2010.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. Other obligations stipulated by the convention are the cclearance of contaminated areas, risk education and destruction of stockpiles of prohibited cluster munitions.Albania signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 in Oslo, Norway and deposited the Instrument of Ratification to the United Nations in New York on 16 June 2009.
  
Mr. Starova during his speech stressed that “Albania has never produced, stockpiled, traded or used cluster munitions. These munitions in the territory of Albania are as a result of the Kosova conflict in 1999”, adding that “Albania is one of the first 10 countries which has ratified the Convention which is so important for the elimination of these munitions that can cause serious damage to the communities that live near contaminated areas. Albanian Government was among the first signatories states of the convention not just to express international solidarity. Albania was aware of the devastating effects of cluster munitions to the safety and lives of the people. As a result, the Government in cooperation with donor countries, of the Convention has met its obligation to clear all unexploded munitions in the north-eastern areas of the country, near the border with Kosova 10 months before its entry into force.”
Deputy Defence Minister Starova focused on work done by the Albanian authorities in terms of education to reduce risks for the population near contaminated areas with cluster munitions and the expansion of care for victims of cluster munitions around the country. At the end of his speech, Mr. Starova urged all countries that have not yet signed the Convention, to do so as soon as possible to strengthen peace and security in the world and to contribute enhancing the welfare of its population.

 
 
 
National Workshop on the Landmines/ERW Victim Assistance in Albanian “Progress and Plans in fulfilling Albania’s obligation in line with the Cartagena Action Plan”
3 -4 November, 2010

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Albania in collaboration with the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE) organized the National Workshop on Landmine/ERW Victim Assistance in Albania “Progress and Plans in fulfilling Albania’s obligations in line with the Cartagena Action Plan. The workshop was funded by the European Union through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victim Assistance, Slovenia (ITF) in framework of the Albanian Mine Action Programme.

The main objective of the workshop was to make an analysis of the progress as to date in this area and to develop a long term national plan in line with the Cartagena Action Plan drafted at the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Treaty banning antipersonnel mines.  This long term plan includes medical, social economic assistance as well as the capacities

The participants in the seminar included high level representatives form the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, landmine/UXO survivors, representatives from the local and national health institutions, donor countries as well as local and international nongovernmental institutions which have contributed to the mine/UXO victim assistance in Albania.

In his opening address, the Deputy Minister of Defence and the Chairman of AMAC, Mr. Arian Starova, among other things said that “Apart from the demining operations in the northeast of Albania, another more important attempt was the provision of mine/UXO Victim Assistance in Albania”. Additionally, Mr. Starova stressed that “Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE), in collaboration with the health institutions and support by international donors, started a challenging job to launch and implement various projects with the aim of helping the mine survivors by providing the necessary medical care so that they recover physically, psychologically and socially”.   

The Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Albert Gajo took the floor by expressing his appreciation to being invited in the workshop and among other things said “The Ministry of Health has paid special attention to the mine/UXO survivors in the northeast of Albania by establishing, strengthening and extending the network of the medical emergencies and the hospital care”.

Mr. Izet Ademi, a landmine survivor, shared the dramatic moments of the accident with the participants in the workshop and he urged the government to continuously assist and support the mine/UXO survivors and other people with disabilities. He said “We are lucky that there are no mine accidents in Albania. However, it is necessary that we, the people with disabilities, receive assistance throughout their lives. This conference allows all of us to assess what has been done so far and what the objectives are in the future.

After the plenary session, the participants were divided into groups to discuss on the needs of the emergency, primary and hospital services as well as the physical rehabilitation of the mine survivors, provision of psychological and psycho social support and social and economic integration. 

The second day of the workshop served to drow some conclusions and to define the future objectives and activities based on the needs of the mine/UXO survivors and other persons with disability. Such conclusions will guide the participants into drafting a long term Victim Assistance Action Plan which will improve the existing national plan. 

 
 
 
The entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions
1 August, 2010

Albania welcomes today the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. From this day, cluster bombs are banned forever and this convention will make a real difference to people’s lives. In this occasion, the NGO Alb-AID organized a march at the main boulevard in Tirana while beating the drum and celebrating. Campaigners, CM survivors and officials joined the march. The celebrations in Tirana were held in the framework of a global initiate to mark this very important day.

Albania was part of “Oslo Process” from the beginning and participated in the international preparatory conferences in Lima, Vienna, Wellington, as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin and Oslo.

The Republic of Albania signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. On 16th June 2009, Albania deposited the instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York, becoming the 9th country to ratify it. By ratifying this convention, Albania demonstrated once more its commitment to promote peace in the region.

The cluster munitions found in Albania are exclusively a result of the Kosova conflict in 1999. The affected areas were located in northern Albania, where an area of 2.1 million m² was identified as contaminated with cluster munitions. The contamination directly affected at least in 13 villages in Kukes, Has and Tropoja. From 1999 until today, 9 people were killed and 44 injured by cluster munitions, making a total of 53 casualties in 32 separate incidents.

In the framework of Victim Assistance, several projects aiming at promoting and strengthening public medical care capacities and socio-economic re-integration of cluster munitions’ survivors are implemented in northeast Albania. It is worth mentioning that the Albanian Mine Action Programme provides health assistance to both mine/UXO survivors and other people with physical disability.

Albania declared in December 2009 that it is now mine and cluster munitions free. From 2000 till November 2009 the time which marked the end of the clearance operations, 4,969 cluster munitions were identified and destroyed and the cleared land was handed over to the community. Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE) coordinates all the mine action activities in the country including cluster munitions operations, risk education, community liaison, provision of assistance to mine/UXO survivors and people with other physical disability.   

 
 
 
Ambassador John L. Withers' visit at the Kukes Regional Hospital
23 July 2010

The U.S Ambassador H.E John L. Withers visited Kukes Regional Hospital on July 23 2010. The purpose of the visit was to witness the developments and see the medical equipment of the Physiotherapy Unit, the Prosthetic Workshop and the radiology ward established by AMAP with funding by US Department of State through International Trust Fund, Slovenia.
The high profile visit initiated with a briefing on the Kukes Hospital capacities in general with specific attention to the developments on the Victim Assistance through the support provided by the US Department of State through the International Trust Fund (ITF) Slovenia. During the visit to Kukes hospital the US Ambassador had the possibility to visit and see the capacities developed at the (i) Workshop, (ii) the Physiotherapy Unit and (iii).the radiology ward. The AMAE VA and RE coordinator presented the developments made to the hospital under AMAP, especially to the provision of medical assistance for mine/UXO survivors. The  AMAE Victim Assistance Coordinator during his presentation to the US Ambassador stated that the rehabilitation capacities developed at the hospital, are unique in the country and although developed through mine action funding, they are serving for the all disabled people in need in the Kukes area and even wider.
The Deputy Director of Kukes Regional Hospital together with the representative of the Albanian Mine Action Executive expressed the appreciation for the significant contribution of the US Department of State towards the Albanian Mine Action Programme, and specifically the generous support provided to Kukes Hospital.

 
 
 
EU Mine Action Visibility Day
8 July, 2010

The Delegation of the European Union to Albania, in collaboration with UNDP Albania and supported by the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE), organized on 8 July 2010 the EU Mine Action Visibility Day. The purpose of this high profile event was to emphasize the impact of the European Union to the achievement of AMAP’s main goal and objectives: the completion of clearance operations, provision of care and assistance to the mine survivors in Albania and Mine Risk Education. The EU has supported AMAP since its beginning and financial assistance has amounted to €5.07 million.  

Participants invited in the event include senior representatives from the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, UNDP Albania and the Albanian Government. Other invitees include partners and donors of the Albanian Mine Action Programme (AMAP), implementing local and international non-governmental organizations, mine/unexploded ordnance survivors, etc.

Ambassador  Helmuth Lohan, the Head of the EU Delegation present in this activity, while addressing the audience said among others: “Today, Albania is mine-free, and I am very happy that we can gather today to celebrate this achievement”. As Mr. Lohan continued his address, he noted “The EU contribution has been part of a broader effort on the part of donors to support the rehabilitation of mine victims in the Northeast of Albania and to support the Government of Albania to meet its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention”.

Mrs. Gülden Türköz-Cosslet, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, while delivering a speech on behalf of the UNDP Albania said, “UNDP is proud to be part of this effort throughout the decade in accordance with the UN mandate and international standards by promoting Mine Action ”.

Speaking at the event Mr Arian Starova, the Chairman of the AMAC, stated, “It is the excellent work of Albanian partners and the generous international support that made it possible that Albania could be declared mine-free in November 2009, or one year ahead of the pledged time in compliance with the Article 5 of the Anti Personnel Mine Ban Convention”.

This joint EU-UNDP intervention directly contributed to the improvement of people’s lives and safety in the former mine-affected villages of Northeast Albania.  In addition, it contributed to the fulfillment of Albania’s obligations deriving from the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

 
 
 
The 21st meeting of South Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council (SEEMACC)
21 April, 2010

The 21st meeting of South Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council (SEEMACC) was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina with the purpose to continue co-operation in the area of mine action in South-Eastern Europe as well as exchange information and experience among the Mine Action centers in the region. The meeting was attended by representatives from member/observer organizations such as: ITF, Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE), the Republic of Macedonia Protection and Rescue Directorate, BHMAC, CROMAC, MDDC and Regional Center for Underwater Demining. Albania was represented by the AMAE Director, Mr. Arben Braha who made a thorough presentation of the mine action progress in Albania and informed the colleagues/partners about the AMAP plans for 2010 and AMAE’s transition plans regarding its involvement into the ammunition destruction process in Albania.

Additionally, during the meeting there were discussions about the challenges that the Mine Action Centers in the Southwestern Europe face and how to tackle them. Additionally, working groups were established to develop the SEEMACC Strategy and Plan of Work for 2010.

 
 
 

Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World – Cartagena de Indias, Colombia

Novemberr 29 - December 4, 2009
Albania took part at the Second Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or otherwise called the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World, which was held from 29 November to 4 December 2009 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

One-hundred-twenty-seven States took part in the Summit with over 40 represented at a high political level. In total over 1,000 delegates took part in what stands as one of the largest gatherings ever of States and activists dedicated to ending the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines. In addition, over 35 events took place parallel to the Summit.

The Albanian Delegation to this Summit was headed by the Deputy Minister of Defense/ Chairman of AMAC Mr. Arian Starova and composed of the representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Mr. Gazmend Turdiu - General Secretary and Mr. Saimir Repishti - Head of the UN Section and other representatives from the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE) Arben Braha-AMAE Director, Veri Dogjani-Victim Assistance Coordinator and Juliana Buzi - Programme Specialist.

The Albanian Delegation declared in this important Summit that Albania has now completed clearance of all its contaminated areas, by complying so with the Article 5 of the AP Mine Ban Convention. This declaration was applauded by all delegations attending the Summit. Albania is one of the first countries with a significant mine contamination problem to declare completion of clearance of all areas contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance. After a decade of work and supported by the international community, more than 16 million square meters were cleared in northeast Albania, where 12.452 anti-personnel mines, 4.965 unexploded ordnance and 152 anti-tank mines were found and destroyed.
In the margins of the Cartagena Summit, a side event was held on 1 December 2009, organized in cooperation with DCA, ITF and AMAE to inform about progress, challenges and lessons learnt from the Albanian clearance programme. The side event was attended by representatives of various donor countries and international organizations including US State Department, Germany, Canada, Czech Republic, UNDP, CMC, ICBL, etc. who commended the work of Albania toward compliance with Article 5 of the Convention.

The Albanian delegation in this Summit reported also about the progress made to date in assisting the mine survivors with medical-health rehabilitation and their socio-economic reintegration. The AMAE Victim Assistance Coordinator attended a three-day Parallel Programme on Victim Assistance organized by the Implementation Support Unit of the GICHD.

Another important aspect of the Summit was the selection of Albania to take over the Presidency for the Tenth Meeting of the States Parties to be held in Geneva in November 2010. The new President-Designate was unanimously selected Mr. Gazmend Turdiu, General Secretary of the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The selection of Albania by the States Parties for the next Presidency of the Convention is an appreciation of our active and constructive participation and commitment in the international work under the convention.

During the High Level Segment of the Summit, the Heads of Delegations signed the Cartagena Declaration as a joint document for renewing the political commitment for a Mine-Free World. In addition, the Cartagena Action Plan has been adopted by the international community, finalizing five days of work of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

 
 
 

The fifth “Night of A thousand Dinners” charity event in Albania

November 24, 2009
 
The “Night of a Thousand Dinners” is a world-wide Mine Action charity event to help solve the global landmine crisis. On 24 November 2009, the US Embassy, in Tirana, in collaboration with AMAE hosted, for the fifth time, “Night of a Thousand Dinners” with the attendance of diplomats, government representatives and the Albanian Business. The aim of this event was to raise money in assistance of landmine/UXO child survivors so that they are integrated in the society.

The opening speech was delivered by the Deputy Minister of Defense, Mr. Arian Starova, who emphasized the invaluable contribution of the US Government as one of the major donors of mine clearance operations in Albania. “People who were injured by mines are in most need of assistance and some of them might need help for a long time. Thanks to the support provided in past “Night of a thousand Dinners” events, several mine survivors and their families have been generously assisted by granting them the opportunity to continue their studies, to receive adequate health care and economic support so that they have a more normal life”, said Mr. Starova.

UNDP Resident Representative, Gulden Turkoz-Cosslett said that “Many partners have come together with financial and technical support to make Albania free from mines”. She emphasized the leading role of UNDP in building the capacities for coordination of mine action operations in the field. She mentioned in particular the crucial role of US Department of State, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, and European Commission in support of the demining operations in Albania.

Then, Gazmend Geca, a mine survivor, took the floor and shared his story while making an appeal to help other mine survivors so that they can integrate in the society.

Ambassador Withers, by expressing his gratitude to all the participants for their donations, emphasized that “It is the children’s right to play with objects without being afraid that these objects will be explosives of war and it is our duty to protect their rights”.

The “Night of A Thousand Dinners 2009” succeeded in raising 12,245 USD in pledges and cash collections, which will be matched by the US Department of State through the International Trust Fund in Slovenia. The funds raised will be used to support the social economic reintegration of Mine/UXO child survivors.

 
 
 

Tirana Workshop on Achieving a Mine-Free South Eastern Europe

October 7-9, 2009
 
The Republic of Albania, with the support of the European Union, hosted the regional event 'The Tirana Workshop on a Mine-Free South Eastern Europe', which took place from 7 to 9 October 2009 at Tirana International Hotel. Participants in the workshop included representatives from mine-affected countries in South Eastern Europe, landmine and unexploded ordnance survivors, donors, local, international and non-governmental organizations that have contributed to mine action in the region.

The purpose of Tirana Regional Workshop was to analyze progress made and challenges remaining in Southeastern Europe regarding the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The Convention bans anti-personnel mines and requires states that join the Convention to destroy all existing stocks; clear all mined areas and assist the survivors.

The workshop featured a high level opening session, the highlight of which was the announcement by Petrit Karabina, the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Republic of Albania, that Albania has completed clearance of all known mined areas in its territory, in compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Convention.

"After a decade of work, Albania is proud to announce today that it has accomplished the obligations under this Convention ahead of the deadline", said Karabina. He went on to say that "More than 14 million square meters, now released as mine free are now in process of being handed over to the population. The community in the northeast of Albania can make use of their land and feel safe." According to Karabina "Clearance of the mine contaminated areas, demonstrates once again Albania's will to promote peace in the Southeastern Europe."

The workshop highlighted that national ownership and partnership are essential to ensuring the full implementation of the Convention. In addition, the importance of strong partnership with donors, with a regional funding channel and implementing entity (i.e., the ITF), with a non-governmental operator (i.e., Danish Church Aid) and the UNDP was emphasized. It was noted by these actors that success in the Albanian context has been fuelled by partners sticking together through good times and bad, all partners contributing to national plans and donors remaining committed until the job is done. As well, it was highlighted that Albania led the way in demonstrating effective partnerships in the destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines with Albania being the first case where a NATO Trust Fund was used as a means to channel funds and support implementation of this aspect of the Convention.

Additionally, the workshop featured a parallel programme for victims' assistance experts who highlighted challenges and successes in addressing the rights and needs of mine survivors in the region. The programme also included discussions on medical and physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support and economic empowerment of the survivors. During his opening remarks, Mr. Ivanaj, Albanian Deputy Minister of Health, stated that one of the priorities of the Ministry of Health has been the establishment, organization, empowering and expending the medical emergency service as well as improving the quality of the physical rehabilitation service.

On 7 October 2009, workshop participants had a field visit to Albania's Kukes Region, the area affected by anti-personnel mines in the country. The visit was an opportunity to see work being undertaken on behalf of mine survivors at the Physiotherapy Unit, Prosthetic unit, and the Radiology equipment at the Kukes Regional Hospital. Participants also got an update from district authorities and non-governmental organizations on mine action in the region.

The Tirana Workshop on Achieving a Mine Free Southeastern Europe succeeded in achieving its aims, among which the empowering collaboration between countries in the region with the aim of successfully fulfilling the Convention's obligations and promoting peace in the region.

The organizational and substantive support for this workshop was provided by the Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE) and the Convention's Implementation Support Unit (ISU).

 
 
 

Tirana Regional Workshop on Achieving a Mine-Free South Eastern Europe

October 7-9, 2009
 
The Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of the European Union, is hosting the Tirana Regional Workshop on Achieving a Mine-Free South Eastern Europe, which will be held at the Tirana International Hotel in Tirana from 7 to 9 October 2009.

The Tirana Workshop will be one of up to six regional workshops that will be held in advance of the Second Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. These workshops are being made possible thanks to assistance provided by the European Union through a "Joint Action" that it adopted last year.

The purpose of the Tirana Workshop will be to take stock of the progress made and challenges that remain in South Eastern Europe in pursuing the aims of the Convention, which should contribute significantly to the success of the Second Review Conference.

Mine affected countries in south-eastern Europe, donors and local/international organizations that have contributed to mine action in the region have been invited to this event.

It is worth emphasizing the importance that this conference has upon Albania and the region in highlighting the progress of Albania in fulfilling the commitments under the Mine Ban Convention and reinforcing the regional cooperation of mine action extperts.

A one-day Victim Assistance Parallel Programme will be held also in the margins of this Regional Conference on 8 October 2009. Victim Assistance experts from the region and local/international organizations and mine survivors have been invited to this activity to make a review of the progress made in the region in the area of victim assistance and analyzing challenges and lessons learnt in assisting mine survivors.

The Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE), being the national coordination and monitoring authority for mine action in the country is making in cooperation with the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) at the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) all the necessary arrangements for the event.

For more information on the Tirana Regional Workshop please contact at: amaealbania@amae.org.al

Link: Programme of the Conference (pdf file, 250kB)

 
 

2010 Albania Mine Action Portfolio Meeting

August 21, 2009
 
The Portfolio of Albania Mine Action Projects meeting is held annually under the leadership of the Albanian Mine Action Executive. The Global Mine Action Portfolio represents a resource tool and a reference for donors, policy-makers, advocates, national and international mine action implementers. It is published jointly by the United Nations Mine Action Service, UNDP and UNICEF, and it contains a snapshot of the national mine action strategy and mine action project proposals submitted by implementing agencies.

The country-specific proposals contained in the Portfolio reflect the strategic response developed in the field to the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The projects are organized mainly along the three mine action pillars: mines/UXO clearance, mine risk education and victim assistance.

This year's meeting of the Albania Mine Action 2010 Portfolio took place on 21 August 2009, at AMAE Kukes Regional Office with the attendance of the Country Portfolio (CPC) Team Members, which include the representatives of the implementing agencies from DanChurchAid, Alb-Aid, Albanian Red Cross and Handicap International.

The AMAE Director chaired the 2010 Portfolio Meeting in the quality of the Country Portfolio Coordinator. In his opening remarks, the Director welcomed the participants and emphasized the importance of the Mine Action Portfolio as an important tool for mine action resource mobilization in Albania. Additionally, taking into consideration that the Albanian Mine Action Programme is now at the completion phase and toward transition to other demilitarization programmes, he encouraged the partners in giving active contribution to the meeting.

The portfolio meeting made an analyses of the progress in achieving the strategic objectives under various pillars of the Mine Action Programme and the future plans, particularly in the area of mine victims’ assistance and Mine Risk Education for the years ahead.

The Country Portfolio Team proceeded with the review of the project proposals as submitted by the respective organizations. There were 15 Project proposals in total which were submitted to the Country Portfolio Coordinator for review by the Portfolio Team. These proposals covered the areas of coordination and monitoring of mine action activities, abandoned ammunition cache collection, post-clearance assessments, support to mine survivors and risk education activities.

The presentation of the various project proposals was followed by numerous comments and suggestions for improvement with the view of having these proposals in line with the current Mine Action Strategy and being cost effective.

The AMAE Director closed the meeting by thanking all participants for their valuable contribution. The next step would be to include the revised project proposals in the automated system of the Global Mine Action Portfolio within September 1, 2009.

 
 

The deposit of the instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations in New York

June 16, 2009
On 16th June 2009, Albania deposited the instrument of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations in New York, becoming respectively the 9th country to ratify it. During treaty negotiations Albania emphasized its experience as an affected country to demonstrate the humanitarian harm caused by cluster munitions. The country was and remains a strong advocate for the very strong provisions on victim assistance in the treaty. Albania has also committed to clearing the unexploded cluster munitions on its territory much earlier than the 10 year deadline set by the convention.
 
 
Triage of Mine/UXO amputees in Kukes, Has and Tropoja
June 2-5, 2009
 
In June 2009, under facilitation and coordination of AMAE, medical specialists from the Institute for Rehabilitation  in Slovenia and representatives from the Prosthetic Center in Kukes Regional Hospital organized a two-day triage during which, all mine and UXO amputees from Kukes and Has were screened. In total 38 mine/UXO survivors and some other amputees where screened and checked during the day. In addition to amputees, some children with cerebral-spinal injuries were provided with medical screening and advice by medical experts from abroad. The process of repairing prostheses served as an opportunity for the Albanian Prostheses Technician to discuss and upgrade some knowledge regarding the repair of the prostheses. Also some other technical issues where discussed between Prostheses Technicians from abroad and the Albanian ones, regarding some measurements, treatment and care for the stump, hygiene, etc.
 
 

Standing Committees Meetings on the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention

May 25-29, 2009
 
On 25-29 May 2009, the meetings of the Intersessional Work Programme on AP Mine Ban Convention were held at the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). This Work Programme, established by the State Parties of the Convention, consists of five committees who assemble annually to discuss operational issues related to the Convention.
Albania is regularly represented in these meetings by the experts of the Albania Mine Action Executive as well as representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and through our Permanent Mission in Geneva.
During the plenary sessions of Work Programme Meetings, Albania reported about the progress made to fulfill the obligation of Article 5 of the Convention, which requires the destruction of mines in the contaminated areas in northeast of Albania. Meanwhile, the AMAE's VA and MRE coordinator participated in the mine/UXO victim assistance activities.
During the plenary session held on Tuesday, May 26, the VA & MRE Coordinator Mr. Veri Dogjani, presented, in the framework of Albanian Mine Action Programme, a progress report about the Victim Assistance in Albania covering the period 2004-2008.
During the plenary session held on Wednesday, May 27, the Ambassador Sejdi Qerimaj reported on the progress that Albania has made regarding the clearance of mine contaminated areas in the northeast of Albania with the aim of fulfilling the obligation deriving from the Article 5 of the Convention. Additionally, the AMAE Director answered questions made by other participants and elaborated on the progress that Albania has made in this respect.
The Albanian Delegation received positive comments by various international agencies such as UNDP, UNMAS, ICBL and various international donors who considered the Albanian Mine action Programme a model to be followed by other mine action programmes. An important topic of the bilateral meetings was the discussion of a transitional strategy of the programme so that the already well-established capacities can be utilized to meet other needs the Albania has in similar areas.
As far as the victim assistance is concerned, one of the objectives yet to be fulfilled is the transfer of the National Prosthetic Orthotic Center to the University Hospital Center "Mother Theresa" (QSUT). However, the agreement with the Ministry of Health has been reached to transfer this center to QSUT which in turn will improve its capacities. This information was reported in the meeting as well.
A special meeting with representatives from United Nations Organizations' missions in Geneva was held on Friday, May 29, about the preparation of delegations and drafting of the reports for the second Review Conference which will be held in Colombia on 25-29 November, 2009 where the State Parties will be represented by high-level delegations. Colombia, as a hosting country, has sent an official invitation to our Prime Minister, through our mission in Geneva

 
 

Donors field trip in the Northeast of Albania

May 14-15, 2009
 
On 14-15 May 2009 Albanian Mine Action Executive as well as the Ministry of Defense organized a donor trip to northern Albania, with the Military Attaches from the embassies of Germany, Turkey, Russia, Romania, Italy and two representatives from Ministry of Defense.
During the visit the participants visited the Rehabilitation unit (Prostheses Workshop & Physiotherapy) of Kukes Hospital, where Director of Kukes hospital and Victim Assistance Coordinator explained in details of what is available and where assistance have been provided, needs and what the priorities for assistance are at the victim Assistance. This center is financially supported by the American Department of State, British and French Governments and European Union. The focus of this visit at hospital has been rehabilitative capabilities to Kukes hospital. The projects implemented and donor support was explained to all participants, with specific focus on ensuring the sustainability of rehabilitation unit in terms of raw materials, staff and improving the management capacities.
Presentations on the Albanian Mine Action Programme (AMAP) including all pillars of mine action in Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Victim Assistance were conducted at the AMAE Regional Office in Kukes by the AMAE director, Arben Braha, the Chief of the Kukes Regional Office, Sali Salihi, the VA&MRE coordinator, Veri Dogjani and the Head of VMA Kukes, Jonuz Kola.
Danish Church Aid (DCA) operating in clearance operation in Albania since 2002, organized a field demonstration in Carmeria/Kukes District.
The military attaches expressed their overall appreciation for the organization of the field trip and commented on their support provided in the past and confirmed their support in the future in order to give their contribution in eliminating the mine problem in Albania by 2010. Local representatives, border police authorities from Kosova and Albania were present during the presentations in the field .

 
 
Commemorating activities in Albania on the occasion of "The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action"
April 4, 2009

In December 2005, the General Assembly declared April 4 the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This Day is a reminder that millions of people in nearly 80 countries still live in fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war.

In commemoration of this day, the following activities were planned in northeast Albania in close cooperation with local and regional authorities, local communities, mine action local organizations and landmine survivors with the aim of raising public awareness about the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war and the efforts to eliminate them.
A competition with artistic creations was organized among children from 13 schools in mine affected areas of northern Albania. This activity was organized in cooperation with the local and regional authorities of Kukes prefecture, local NGOs involved in MRE, Landmine Survivors and the demining organization.
The interview was broadcasted on April 4th from BBC radio Albanian section. The landmine Survivor, a border police officer injured while patrolling the border in 1999 told his story and experience from the day of the injury and the re-integration into society again.

A photography exhibition was opened on April 6, 2009 at the Palace of Culture in Kukes Town. The photos, which were made by the local NGO VMA, demonstrated moments captured from the mine action activities which included: mine clearance, mine risk education and Victim Assistance. Awareness and other visible materials were available at the event.

A TV reportage was transmitted by the Local Kukes TV, which covered activities in Mine Risk Education and Victim Assistance taking place in the Northeast of Albania.

 
 
   

 

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