US Media: Azerbaijan could have more areas rebuilt and back in their homes, but landmines hamper the reconstruction

US Media: Azerbaijan could have more areas rebuilt and back in their homes, but landmines hamper the reconstruction

“Azerbaijan could have more areas rebuilt and back in their homes, but the landmines hamper the reconstruction,” Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Israel Mukhtar Mammadov said in an exclusive interview to the Fronte Page Magazine, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting AzerTac.

In her article titled “Why We Must Ban Landmines Now” Rachel Avraham writes:

“Recently, Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Fariz Rzayev attended the International Donors’ Conference on Humanitarian Demining in Ukraine held in Zagreb, where he raised awareness about Azerbaijan’s landmine problem. As Azerbaijan’s Ambassador Mukhtar Mammadov stated: “We suffered from it from the 1990’s, even when there was the so-called cease-fire, which was not obeyed or respected. There were still people back then along the border who were dying or getting injured from the landmines. The numbers went up since the 2020 war and Azerbaijan started the reconstruction work. There were police and civilians who lost their lives or were seriously wounded. Even after 2020, they were infiltrating into Azerbaijani territory and were planting new landmines.”

He added: “We found many landmines that were planted in the roads on land that has been cleared from the landmines. The landmine explosion that killed the six people that started the recent confrontation between Azerbaijan and Armenia was in an area cleared from landmines by ANAMA previously. They put their mark in the area. The people were freely driving and walking in the area, and they continued the landmine terror. After the counter-terror measures, we see the Armenian forces that are withdrawing are putting more landmines. There were videos published by the Azerbaijani authorities that showed landmines being planted as booby-traps. They did this as Azerbaijan sent humanitarian aid and firefighters after the petrol station explosion to assist the local Armenian population. They are putting them in order to kill them. We see a lot of statements by human rights organizations criticizing Azerbaijan unfairly, but not one statement about this landmine.”

According to him, “We do not see people speaking about the six people who were killed in a landmine explosion on 19 September. We see no strong statements calling on Armenia to share the landmine maps. Only 25 percent of the maps were accurate. Therefore, we cannot trust those maps for there is a high risk that people can die. There are international experts who say that it will take 30 to 35 years for the area to be cleared of landmines. They destroyed all of the housing and everything, and before putting in the roads, we had to clear landmines. There are mountains, rivers and forests. The Armenians make sure that it will be difficult to find them. There are several settlements in Aghdam, Fizouli, etc.”

Gulshan Payasheva, a board member of the Center of Analysis of International Relations, stressed: “As a result of the almost thirty-year-long (1991-2020) military occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan by Armenia, Azerbaijan has been massively contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of the war (ERW). According to the statistics of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA), since the Trilateral Statement of November 10, 2020, there have been 189 landmine explosions, tragically, these explosions have resulted in 327 victims as of September 28, 2023. This stark statistic underscores the urgent need for action to address the landmine issue and protect innocent lives. The total number of victims of landmines and cluster munitions in the last 30 years stands at 3,406, including 357 children and 39 women.”

Emil Hasanov, the Deputy Chairman of the Public Council under ANAMA, added: “Landmines are developed to harm people. The main purpose is to injure and create horror. People lose limbs and it impacts society after the war. Landmines can remain for hundreds of years and create problems for social-economic development. In Europe, since World War I and II, millions of landmines still exist. It prevents the realization of sustainable development goals. It has a long economic impact and it is indiscriminate. One cannot control where they appear and they harm and injure the people. Kids and women are at greatest risk.”

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and is an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media.