Pope calls for elimination of landmine stockpiles, care for reintegration of victims

.- In a message to Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch, president of the First Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction, being held in Nairobi, Kenya, Pope John Paul II called for the definitive eradication of landmines and for special attention and support to be given to landmine victims. “Five years after entering into force,,” said the Pope, the Ottawa Convention, “has become for the ratifying countries a fundamental and inescapable norm that reinforces the strict application of international humanitarian law and is a tangible proof of solidarity between nations and peoples."

He underscored that "the Holy See, who was among the first to ratify this convention, intends to contribute in an active way to seeing to its implementation, in a sincere and constructive dialogue with the other signatory States.”

“The Holy See, he said, “has launched a campaign to sensitize local Churches to the problem of anti-personnel landmines, to spread information on this grave problem," and is asking for involvement and for "prayers for the victims of landmines and for the success of  this conference."

"The destruction of landmine stockpiles" and "the socio-economic reintegration of victims," the great majority of whom are innocent people, who are mutilated or killed, is the most important objective, said the Pope.

He said that there must also be "bilateral and multilateral cooperation" between countries in order to make the correct decisions to eradicate mines. ... When States unite, in a climate of understanding, mutual respect and cooperation, to oppose a culture of death and to build confidently a culture of life, it is the cause of peace that advances in the consciences of people and all of mankind."

The Holy Father stated that “victims of landmines deserve special attention, even after stockpiles are reduced or eliminated. The international community must allot both financial and human resources to helping people become the protagonists of their own development, to rehabilitating the handicapped, and to reintegrating victims of mines into society."

The Pope concluded by making "a fervent appeal for the universalization of the Ottawa Convention, inviting the nations who hesitate to adhere to it, to join the side of peace by definitively neutralizing these engines of death.”

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