Brussels, 17 Sep 2003
European Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin, has called for greater synergy between researchers and specialists working in the field of demining technology, in order to bring to an end the indiscriminate suffering caused by detonated mines.
It is reported that each year 15, 000 and 20, 000 people respectively are either wounded or killed from landmine explosions. Speaking at a conference on the detection of abandoned land mines on 15 September, Mr Busquin told delegates that figures such as these are inexcusable, especially considering the advances that have been made in demining technology.
'We cannot accept the ongoing but forgotten bloodshed provoked by landmines,' said the Commissioner. 'Significant technological progress has been made [...], but more needs to be done to turn knowledge into new demining tools. This requires concerted action between international donors, developers and researchers and especially demining specialists working in the field.
Within a European context, Mr Busquin pointed to the growing research interest in finding solutions for landmine detection. 'During the last seven years the EU has become a major donor in international research efforts in support of humanitarian mine clearance,' he said. Indeed, the Commission has spent more than 200 million euro on demining actions, including at least 33 million euro to develop new demining technologies. Further funds are expected be allocated to this priority within the next four years.
A good example of an EU initiative which brings together the international demining community is a project launched by the Joint Research Centre, entitled 'test and evaluation of technologies for humanitarian demining'. The project will provide test and evaluation facilities, and is promoting the establishment of test and evaluation standards.
One of the primary areas focused upon is assessing the reliability of demining equipment, in particular, metal detectors - one of the most commercially available tools used by demining experts for manual demining activities.
In an effort to further the work of the JRC project, the Commission recently signed a Committee for Standardisation (CEN) agreement to ensure metal detectors are evaluated and tested according to a common set of European standards.
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