Across the world, millions of people face an unprecedented threat from the global coronavirus pandemic.
And communities that face the daily threat of landmines and unexploded bombs will be among the most vulnerable in this crisis because of poverty-related health issues and the fragility of local health and care systems.
MAG’s priorities during these challenging times are the health and safety of our staff and their families, our commitment to continue to deliver our work where we can and our wider responsibility to help diminish the spread of the virus.
It is essential, however, that humanitarian work such as ours does not grind to a halt because of the coronavirus. And that is why it is so encouraging that we have been able to resume working in so many programmes where we had initially been forced to suspend operations.
MAG has now re-started operations in Vietnam, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. We are confident that we will resume operations elsewhere in the coming days and weeks.
This progress is significant because, in our view, humanitarian mine action can play a role in mitigating the economic and humanitarian impact of COVID-19 on communities.
Mine action not only keeps people safe but it can be a major source of direct and indirect employment and a key enabler of economic growth by freeing land for uses such as agriculture and development.
We are thankful to all our donors and partners for their understanding and support as we manage the uncertainty ahead. We are thankful, also, to our amazing staff in the countries where we work who continue to display the utmost professionalism, flexibility and dedication.
We must all hope that the threat of coronavirus will diminish; but when it does, the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance will still be there for more than 60 million people around the world.
And the presence of landmines will only exacerbate the socio-economic damage which coronavirus threatens.
So we will not stop our work until that threat is eliminated and we know that our supporters – host governments, donors and the general public – will stand by us until it is.
When we stand together, we can achieve so much: global challenges require global partnerships and global collaboration.