Lurking death in Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur
    But is world aware of it?

    SOCIETY  27 May 2023 - 11:00

    Timur Rzayev

    The countless hordes of mines that lie in the land of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur, which is so sacred for Azerbaijanis, can be compared to a hidden death. Nobody knows where and when it will burst, tearing apart human bodies, cars, construction equipment...

    According to official data, after November 10, 2020, 302 people, mostly civilians, including children (57 killed, 245 wounded) have already been killed and wounded in the territories of Azerbaijan liberated from years of Armenian occupation as a result of the Patriotic War.

    It is clear that the mines were planted by Armenians to prevent Azerbaijanis, who were expelled from there 30 years ago, from settling in those lands. This is confirmed by the regular discovery of mines made in Armenia in 2021 - that is, after the war (there were 2700 such "surprises" found in Azerbaijan’s territory, transported by Lachin road). As a result, with sad regularity, reports are heard about shepherds, villagers, soldiers, and construction workers being blown up by mines, dying and becoming disabled for life...

    While in Armenia, especially in the Armenian segment of social networks, one can see bursts of joy when another Azerbaijani dies or becomes disabled as a result of a blast of an Armenian mine. Azerbaijan has to do its best to struggle against this threat because it is impossible in principle to live to the full in Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur without it. We understand this very well.

    But some patrons of Armenian revanchism abroad, who cherish plans to pump Armenia with weapons, seem to prefer not to see the "teeth of the dragon", which have generously sown Azerbaijani lands with deadly seeds. They "don't notice" that as a result of Armenia's purposeful policy, Azerbaijan has become one of the most contaminated countries in the world with mines and unexploded ordnance - about 1.5 million of them are lying in Azerbaijani soil!

    Azerbaijan is doing much to reverse this trend on a global level. For example, these days Baku has hosted the 2nd International Conference on “'Mine Action - The Path To Reaching Sustainable Development Goals”, which will be an important means for the country to tell the truth about this terrible disaster to the world community. And not only to report but also to help, by showing solidarity, to find new partners in the fight against this threat, to prepare plans with concrete steps to gradually eliminate the threat of mines, to voice new initiatives and ideas, and to mobilise stakeholders for this.

    The conference aroused great interest - about 200 representatives from 51 countries speak for themselves, as well as the quality of the foreign guests, including former presidents and prime ministers of various states, MPs, representatives of the UN, the diplomatic corps, etc.

    It is very symbolic that the first day of the conference was held in Aghdam, a city named "Hiroshima of Azerbaijan" by analogy with the degree of destruction of these settlements. Now in Aghdam, as elsewhere in the liberated territories, restoration and construction work is actively carried out, but Armenian mines strongly interfere with it. There is no doubt that if it were not for the mines, we would have seen a revival in Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur at a much faster pace.

    This threat should not be underestimated - since the early 90s of the twentieth century, about 3,400 inhabitants of Azerbaijan have suffered from Armenian mines, of whom 587 were killed. Among the victims of mines 358 are children and 38 - women.

    The state is doing a lot to eliminate the danger indeed. Thanks to National Leader Heydar Aliyev 25 years ago Azerbaijani National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) has been created and the work on demining the territories is carried out systematically and progressively.

    The most modern technologies are used, and machinery is purchased, including mine-clearing machines from Slovakia and Türkiye... Additionally, 90 per cent of all the work is carried out at the expense of Azerbaijan itself, foreign support of the demining work is small and irregular...

    So, one can’t count seriously on Western aid.  The mine threat that Azerbaijan is facing thanks to the cruelty of Armenians is, good or bad, only its own problem and its solution is the most important task.

    The natives who returned to Agdam, Lachin, Fuzuli, Jabrail, Kalbajar, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha must not be afraid of mines, must not be afraid of walking on their native land, for which they longed so much... Yes, even this threat sometimes does not stop those who want to see their native places and live there - but without full-fledged humanitarian demining, there will not and cannot be full-fledged life in the blessed land of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur!

    Azerbaijan has mobilised all forces to clear its land from mines as quickly as possible, the most active work has been done in the past two years. The technical and human capacities of ANAMA have been expanded, and the world's best practices have been used.

    That is why humanitarian demining has been officially declared the 18th National Sustainable Development Goal in Azerbaijan. In addition, Azerbaijan, itself suffering from this scourge, has taken the initiative of establishing humanitarian demining as the 18th global Sustainable Development Goal of the UN, and the Non-Aligned Movement, which the country chairs, is also working on the idea of creating a Group of like-minded countries affected by mines.

    With all this in mind, one comes to believe that the conference will give impetus to the process of demining. Awareness of the enormity of the mine problem should not make the nation give up.

    A number of countries and territories - from Israel to Libya, from Algeria to Egypt, from Namibia to the Falkland Islands - have faced this threat at different times, and we Azerbaijanis can see that it is not insurmountable, although it requires great effort.

    But the road is for those who walk! And no doubt, Azerbaijan will render harmless those sinister silent and deadly hordes of Armenian mines, which lie in the land of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur, even if it requires great means and efforts, much time, and, alas, inevitable victims. And it will do it so that it will once again show the whole world that the real owners of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur sow not mines in their land, but bread, joy and happy life!


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