An Afghan soldier on guard as mines are destroyed on April 3 on the outskirts of Kabul (epa)
April 4, 2006 -- The United Nations says it is possible to rid the world of land mines within years rather than decades, as previously thought.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that task could be achieved if donors, the general public, and governments in the countries worst affected continue their clearance and education efforts.
The UN General Assembly has declared today the first International Day for Mine Awareness.
The UN says deaths and injuries caused by land mines kill or maim as many as 20,000 people around the world each year. The countries with the highest number of reported land mine victims in 2004 were Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Columbia. Much de-mining work also remains to be done in Iraq, Angola, Sudan, Bosnia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.
The UN says the Russian government used land mines in Chechnya during 2005. But Russia's UN ambassador, Andrei Denisov, claims only Chechen rebels use land mines in Chechnya.