Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
August 2, 2007
Inside this newsletter:
I. POLICY COORDINATION, TREATY IMPLEMENTATION, INFORMATION, AND RESOURCE MOBILIZATION
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
The UN Mine Action Team organized events in New York and Geneva and facilitated outreach in more than 30 other cities worldwide to observe the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on or before April 4. The events aimed to raise awareness about landmines, explosive remnants of war, and progress toward their eradication.
On April 3 in New York, Under-Secretary-General Jean-Marie GuÔGnno led a curtain-raiser press briefing for UN correspondents as part of the Office of the Spokesperson's regular noon briefing. A similar curtain-raiser briefing took place in Geneva in the Palais des Nations on April 3, led by Judith Cheng Hopkins of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Also in the lead-up to the Day, the UN Mine Action Team and the Department of Public Information developed a video news report using new footage of mine action in Colombia and Tajikistan which was broadcast through the UNIFEED service to newsrooms around the world.
On the Day in New York, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened Enduring Fear, a month-long exhibition of photographs about landmines, explosive remnants of war and the people affected by them. UNMAS prepared the Secretary-General's statement, as well as that of Kathleen Cravero of UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, who introduced the Secretary-General. (In Geneva, UNMAS organized a photo exhibit in the Palais des Nations, similar to the one mounted in New York.)
A mock minefield was installed on the North Lawn of the Secretariat, and experts from the U.S. Department of Defense's Humanitarian Demining Training Center planned to demine it throughout the day and explain to visitors how mines are detected, removed and destroyed. Rain, however, made the demonstrations impossible, so the Center's staff instead set up an exhibit inside the General Assembly's visitors' area, adjacent to the photo exhibit.
UNICEF displayed children's drawings about landmines and hosted mine-risk education workshops, also in the Visitors' Lobby. Landmines, cluster munitions and the Anti-personnel Mine-Ban Treaty were on display within the photo exhibit, and computers were set up to allow visitors to use the recently released "Landmine and ERW Safety" interactive training program.
That evening, Adopt-a-Minefield hosted a fund-raising dinner in the UN Delegates Dining Room. UNMAS helped draft the speech delivered at the event by the Secretary-General.
UNDP tapped its network of country offices, and UNICEF called on its national committees and field offices to aid with the outreach.
A number of television stations and networks broadcast one or more of the UN Mine Action Team's video public service announcements throughout the Day. To promote media coverage, the UN Mine Action Team drafted and disseminated press releases, media advisories, and information flyers, often with the support of the Department of Public Information and the global network of UN Information Centres. The Team also developed web content for the E-MINE site at www.mineaction.org. The UN Mine Action Team also produced talking points and FAQs for UN speakers to refer to while doing media interviews, making statements or leading briefings. The Team arranged numerous interviews with journalists who published or broadcast news and features about the day.
Press coverage has been compiled from 42 countries and will be published in a volume to be shared with all UN country offices that hosted local events. In addition, an Australian daily, The Courier-Mail, published an op-ed by UNMAS Director Maxwell Gaylard.
While the majority of the press coverage resulted from outreach by the UN Mine Action Team in collaboration with the UN Department of Public Information and with support from Special Representatives of the Secretary General, a number of articles resulted from events hosted by nongovernmental organizations and other institutions.
UNMAS and UNDP organized a press trip to Tajikistan 11-15 June to draw attention to the country's struggle against landmines and its effort to clean up cluster munitions stemming from the country's civil war in 1993. Stories have already been published or broadcast by Reuters and BBC radio and TV.
UNMAS assisted the Department of Peacekeeping Operations with a mini-minefield in the visitors' area of the UN General Assembly building as part of DPKO's observance of UN Peacekeepers Day, 29 May.
Meetings of the IACG-MA and its Sub-Groups
UNMAS continued to chair the IACG-MA at working level on a monthly basis. Key policy issues discussed were the UN engagement in the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Treaty, cluster munitions, and specific projects, such as ICRC's mine action activities, WFP's Road Rehabilitation project in south Sudan, DPI's Cyperschoolbus project, and the Big Bang project.
UNMAS developed a key issues paper on the discussion text for the Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions and convened the Cluster Munitions Working Group to help ensure that UN participation at the Lima meeting in May was well-coordinated. The Cluster Munitions Working Group met again after the Lima meeting to reflect on what had happened, based on an analytical note drafted by UNMAS, and to prepare for the CCW GGE meeting on cluster munitions in June. UNMAS also organized and convened a meeting of the Steering Committee on Gender and Mine Action in June to discuss a range of upcoming activities and projects (see below).
International Legal Framework
The meetings of the Standing Committees of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APMBT Intersessionals) were held in Geneva between 23 and 27 April 2007. UNMAS coordinated the development of several statements that were delivered on behalf of the UN Mine Action Team (UNMAT) to each of the Standing Committees. UNMAS and members of the UNMAT also contributed to meetings of the Contact Groups on Universalization, Resource Mobilization, Article 7 and Linking Mine Action and Development (LMAD) and the special programme for victim assistance experts. UNMAS was invited to and participated in the LMAD Practitioners' Network Meeting organized by the GICHD in the margins of the Intersessionals.
UNMAS continued to support activities commemorating the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty. The UNMAS Director delivered a statement on behalf of the UNMAT at the Brussels event on 9 May entitled "New Perspectives for a World without Mines."
UNMAS delivered a statement on behalf of the UNMAT at the meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the First Conference of High Contracting Parties to CCW Protocol V on ERW (Geneva, 18 June). At the request of the President-designate, UNMAS, on behalf of the UNMAT, prepared a working paper on recording, retaining and transmitting information on explosive ordnance used or abandoned during conflicts. The paper informed discussions at the PrepCom meeting and inspired the adoption of recommendations to the CCW Conference to be convened in November.
In addition, UNMAS coordinated the delivery of several UNMAT statements on the topic of cluster munitions to the Group of Governmental Experts of States Parties to the CCW (Geneva, 19-22 June). The statements were made based on consulted and agreed text prior to the meetings. The GGE recommended that States Parties to the CCW in November 2007 decide how best to address the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions as a matter of urgency, including "the possibility of a new instrument".
The UNMAS Liaison Officer and the UNMACC-SL Programme Manager participated in the ICRC Expert Meeting "Humanitarian Military, Technical and Legal Challenges of Cluster Munitions" (Montreux, 18-20 April 2007). The UNMACC-SL Programme Manager made a presentation on "High reliability cluster munitions: clearance perspectives."
The Liaison Officer in Geneva represented UNMAS at the Lima Conference on cluster munitions (Lima, Peru, 23-25 May 2007) and coordinated participation of the UNMAT in this event. (See also above IACG-MA Meetings).
Advancing Gender Equality in Mine Action Programmes
UNMAS is leading the planning for the 2007 Gender Equality and Mine Action Workshop to be held in September. The Workshop will follow a similar agenda to last year's, but will focus on programmes in Africa and Asia. UNMAS is also in the process of recruiting a person to work on the development of gender-sensitive impact assessment tools.
UNMAS headquarters staff remains fully engaged in system-wide, agency-specific and departmental working groups and task forces that seek to advance gender equality and regularly share lessons learned from the mine action sector. During the quarter, the DPKO Gender Task Force was briefed on the conduct and lessons learned from the UNMAS gender audit of core mine action documents. Subsequently, DPKO decided to develop a methodology for a department-wide gender audit. UNMAS, on behalf of the IACG, participated in all meetings of the SCR 1325 Task Force, and reported on the implementation of the SCR 1325 Action Plan for 2006-2007 and developed initiatives for the new SCR 1325 Action Plan for 2007-2008. For the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of SCR 1325, UNMAS also submitted a Good Practices Survey documenting the IACG-MA Steering Committee's innovative initiatives to ensure gender equality in UN mine action.
An updated version of the 2007 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects, reflecting project and appeal information current as of the first quarter of 2007, is available at www.mineaction.org. The Mid-Year Review of Portfolio project funding is underway.
The production of the 2008 Portfolio was launched on 15 June by the HQ Portfolio Team comprising UNMAS, UNDP and UNICEF. In-country coordination of partners, including national authorities, donors and implementing partners, both national and international, has been initiated. This edition will be the first to be produced using a web-based document submission system for which most country coordinators received basic training during the Ninth National Directors and UN Advisors Meeting in Geneva in March.
The Portfolio Team strongly encourages and invites donor representatives based in landmine/ERW-affected countries to participate in the consultations convened by the Country Portfolio Coordinator to plan activities and priorities for 2008 and to discuss ways to improve the Portfolio as a resource tool and reference document for donors and other stakeholders.
New Features on EMINE
E-MINE has changed the way to access content related to treaties, policies, strategies and official UN documents that include references to mine action.
From the home page, a new "Treaties & Law" links directly to the Anti-personnel Mine-Ban Treaty, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, other humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law. The human rights treaties section is designed to be a tool to help monitor implementation of the UN inter-agency mine action strategy for 2006 - 2010.
A new "Strategy & Guidance" link provides access to the UN inter-agency mine action policy and strategy, as well as other types of guidelines, such as those for integrating mine action into ceasefire agreements.
A new "UN Document Library" link provides access to reports and resolutions to and by the General Assembly and the Security Council, as well as relevant documents from the Human Rights Council and the Economic and Social Council, and reports and speeches related to the Millennium Development Goals.
II. NEW PLEDGES, EARMARKS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE VOLUNTARY TRUST FUND (VTF)
Contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action for the Second Quarter (April to June 2007):
UNDP (DRC Pooled Fund)
TOTAL = $25,989,720.65
Confirmed Pledges to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action for the Second Quarter (April to June 2007):
Amount donor currency
UNMAS HQ coordination
UNMAS HQ coordination
To be confirmed
Support to the European Standardisation (CEN) Workshops has continued in this period and UNMAS provided coordination support to the 2007 International Symposium on Mine Action Technologies held in Croatia 23 to 27 April. Following this meeting, speculative plans were discussed regarding the potential of joining the National Directors meeting and the Croatian Symposium in 2008.
Support was also provided, with GICHD, to Egyptian national authorities for the conduct of their metal detector trials and final selection.
UNMAS, as an Observer, attended the International Test and Evaluation Programme (ITEP) meeting of the Board of Directors and the Report of the Executive Committee of ITEP was welcomed.
Input was provided to the coordinating Working Group of the Centre for European Standardization (CEN) with regard to future areas of potential work and direct support was provided to the Working Groups developing the Workshop Agreements on follow on activity behind machines and the testing of Personal Protective Equipment.
VI. DEVELOPMENTS IN UNMAS-MANAGED PROGRAMMES
The UNMAS Director, Chief of Programme Support and Programme Officer deployed to Afghanistan in early April and consulted with the Government of Afghanistan, the United Nations Mission, the international community and implementing partners. Meetings were held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss the transition of the programme to national ownership and to discuss increased cooperation, whilst funding of the Programme was discussed with the Deputy Minister of Finance and representatives of the Mine Action Consultative Working Group.
The support of the international community for the Programme was seen to be increasing, particularly due to the positive operational changes instituted within the previous six months and the shift to nationalisation of key posts. A further key step in this nationalisation process occurred in late June with the selection of Dr. Haider Reza (former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister of Commerce for Afghanistan) as the new Director of the Programme, the first time a national has held this post since the programme was established in 1989. This news has been met extremely positively by the international community, many of whom know Dr. Reza from his time as the Government lead on mine action, and his advocacy for accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.
Security incidents have impacted the implementation of the programme in some areas, particularly in May and June, with 7 commercial demining personnel killed in the Kandahar region, a range of other ambush incidents on implementing partner road convoys, the occupation and theft of vehicles, uniforms and equipment from an NGO compound, and the taking of 17 demining personnel hostage in Ghazni. These incidents have caused the suspension and relocation of some activities; however, there are indications that many attacks are due to misidentification of mine action vehicles and personnel by armed groups or entering into combat areas unknowingly. Additionally, various hostage-taking incidents have resulted in the negotiated release of personnel based on the positive and neutral reputation of the mine action personnel and their work. As a result, field operations are continuing, including in some contested areas such as the Panjwai Valley where low profile activities have been underway since April.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UNMACC has not yet been successful in identifying counterparts in the newly established government to facilitate the establishment of a national mine action structure. DCA, HIB, MAG and MECHEM have continued ongoing Survey-Mine/EOD clearance operations, and IMMAP/VFA is going to resume emergency survey and clearance activities in the Equateur Province in the coming months. UNMAS has secured a significant amount of voluntary funding that will support mine action activities for the next nine to 12 months.
The UNMEE Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) continued to carry out humanitarian demining and force demining protection through route clearance, mine risk education, explosive ordnance disposal works and other related activities. Despite encountering growing restrictions in many areas in Sector Centre and Sector West, UNMEE-MACC continues to carry out its operations effectively.
In south Lebanon, clean-up of unexploded cluster munitions continued, resulting in more than 122,000 bomblets destroyed. Since the last newsletter, an additional 59 new cluster strike locations have been identified by the United Nations Mine Action Centre - South Lebanon (MACC-SL) which increased the contaminated area up to 37.1 million square metres.
As of 30 June, a total of 928 cluster strike locations have been recorded while a total of 31% of the surface and 17% of the sub-surface of the contaminated areas have been cleared as the result of the joint efforts of LAF, UNIFIL, and UN operating under the coordination of the UN MACC-SL (including 75 UN contracted and bilaterally funded teams and 22 UNIFIL teams).
Since the cease-fire, a total of 208 civilians have been injured (184) or killed (24) as a result of cluster munitions.
The overall objective is to have a mine and cluster munitions impact-free Southern Lebanon by December 2007, except for the Blue Line, provided that the necessary funding is available. In theory, the absence of a mine or unexploded sub-munitions threat would therefore no longer require sustainability of the MACC-SL in its current structure. On 8 May, however, the Director of the Lebanese Mine Action Centre (LMAC)1 officially requested the UNMACC to stay throughout 2008.
Assessments of the financial and operational implications are underway. While UNMACC's 2007 objective of a "mine and cluster munitions impact-free South Lebanon except for the Blue Line" remains, 2008 would allow all parties to properly finalise remaining clearance tasks, coordination, capacity building activities and for UNMACC to hand-over a manageable programme to LMAC by 31 December 2008.
Achievements in Sudan for April and May include the clearance of 2,283,091 square meters (m2), the assessment of 6,553 km of road, and the destruction of 819 AP mines, 220 AT mines, and 97,018 UXO. Mine risk education was provided to 158,176 persons. In addition to supporting the UN Mission in Sudan, voluntary donor contributions are increasing the UN Mine Action Office's ability to address humanitarian needs, especially in support of returning refugees and internally displaced persons in Southern Sudan and Transitional Areas.
In accordance with Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Government of Sudan conducted the demolition of 4,488 anti-personnel (AP) mines on 30 April. The Government of Sudan has reiterated its commitment to meet its obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty and confirmed that Sudan will destroy the remaining stockpiled AP mines before the deadline of 30 April 2008.
Challenges in the second quarter include the on-going deterioration of the security situation in Darfur, travel restrictions in Kassala, and the early arrival of the rainy season in Southern Sudan. The travel restrictions in Kassala are seriously hampering ongoing survey and clearance operations in Eastern Sudan.
The endorsement of the National Victims Assistance strategy by the Government of National Unity is leading to the establishment of mine survivors laws, a victim database system linked with the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), as well as providing a coordinated strategic framework for national and international NGOs implementing VA projects. Through the Human Security Trust Fund project, a victim assistance needs assessment is being completed in Wau and Juba. A second national victim assistance workshop to establish a national victim assistance work plan will be held on 28 and 29 August in Khartoum.
On 10 June, the President of the Sudan awarded a certificate of recognition to the UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO) for its humanitarian work in support of the people of the Sudan.
In January, 2007, UNMAS deployed a small Mine Action Unit (MAU) within the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) to act as the focal point for mine/improvised explosive devices (IEDs)/unexploded ordnance matters and provide advice to the SRSG and to UN Monitors, and a specialized commercial company, Armour Group, has been contracted, with funding from the Nepal Peace Fund, and deployed to Nepal on 15 April. During the reporting period, MAU has developed a demolition plan of items classified as unsafe to store that has been now formally approved by the JMCC, and will be initiated by Armour Group on 9 July. The MAU is also continuing to assist the Government of Nepal, through the Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction, in establishing their national mine action structure and capacity. In this respect, a national mine action steering committee has been recently created under the chairmanship of the Ministry for Peace and Reconstruction. The MAU has also developed, and is implementing, a training programme aimed at improving the Nepalese Army mine/IED/UXO clearance capacity.
Western Sahara (MINURSO)
In Western Sahara, Landmine Action (LMA), a UK-based NGO which deployed in August 2006, is continuing Survey/Battle Area Clearance/Explosive Ordnance Disposal activities within the POLISARIO-controlled areas of the territory. They are currently operating within the Mehaires area and will move to the southern sector later on. UNMAS has mobilized sufficient resources to continue supporting LMA's activities until mid-2008. In addition, UNMAS will continue to support MINURSO involvement in mine action through permanent deployment of a civilian mine action advisor to the Mission HQs. This would be effective in August and will assist in coordination and development of mine action within the Territory.
UNMAS conducted a technical mission to the European Union-financed demining project implemented by UNDP. The visit came as the project is stalled due to a lack of access to Turkish minefields in the buffer zone, stemming from disagreement over the origin of the EU funds that Turkish Cypriots contend are only intended for the north and not for bi-communal projects. The impasse was noted by EU parliamentarians visiting the island during a press conference on 4 July. Without access to minefields, the programme, along with UNFICYP, is looking at various contingencies as well as further reductions in capacity that may have an impact on the project's ability to commence operations in a timely manner should a resolution be found.
An interagency assessment mission on mine action in Somalia was conducted from 25 June through 1 July. The Mission, which was co-led by UNMAS and UNDP Somalia, included representatives from UNOPS New York and UNHCR Somalia. In addition to meeting with UN agencies and NGOs in Nairobi, a portion of the team visited Baidoa and Mogadishu in Somalia for meetings with OCHA, UN Department of Safety and Security (DSS) and AU peacekeepers from Uganda. Preliminary findings indicate the need for increased survey activities with EOD response capability in the south and center of the country to gauge fully the ERW problem along with providing support to fledgling national structures. To date, mine action in Somalia has had limited potential in the south and center, but should the national reconciliation process move forward, mine action will be a key confidence builder and enabler of that process and economic recovery and development.
Other Operational Support
A new interactive Landmine and ERW Safety Training DVD has been produced. The DVD culminates with a competency based test. The product is being distributed within the UN family, the wider mine action community and other relevant actors. Feedback to date from all agencies provided with the DVD has been positive. UNMAS will lead an effort to have the training mainstreamed within DPKO and the wider UN.
The annual Rapid Response Plan (RRP) exercise was conducted in June in conjunction with our logistic support stand-by partner, Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA). The exercise trained selected staff in the establishment and management of a Mine Action Coordination Centre functioning in an emergency situation. The exercise scenario reflected the enactment of a Protection Cluster response, with this environment given credibility by the welcome involvement of representatives from WFP, UNICEF, and UNHCR.
The following is a summary of key achievements, challenges, objectives and funding issues for UNDP-supported country programmes, presented by region:
Funding shortfall for 2007
- Affirmative Action (US$ 300,000)
- Referral and Access to Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy for LMS (US$ 450,000)
- Sustainable Livelihoods for LMS in areas of return (US$ 730,000)
- Technical assistance (victim assistance advisor) (US$95,000)
- Operational cost for two multi purpose demining teams (USD 160,000)
- Development and operational cost one QC team (USD 120,000)
a) The establishment of a national focal point at the Ministry of International Cooperation named the Executive Secretariat for the Demining and Development of the North West Coast,
b) The conduct of demining activities in cooperation with the Egyptian Armed Forces, which is the sole organ entrusted with handling ERW in the country,
c) The elaboration of strategy papers for communications and resource mobilization, and
d) The conduct of Victim Assistance and Mine Risk Education activities. A work plan, based upon clear deliverables, was approved for the first year, covering all four objectives, and implementation has been proceeding satisfactorily.
Mine Risk Education (MRE)
Landmine Retrofit Survey (LRS)
Europe and the CIS
FUNDING UPDATE 2007
Coordination & Monitoring
Programme donors for this year include the European Commission through UNDP, U.S. State Department through ITF, UNICEF, UNDP BCPR and ICRC.
The following is a summary of key achievements, challenges, objectives and funding issues for UNICEF country programmes:
In Angola, UNICEF continues to provide both technical and financial support for local NGOs to implement field based mine risk education (MRE) in the most mine affected provinces. During this reporting period, UNICEF supported MRE projects in Huila, Malange, Moxico and Lunda Norte provinces. In the next quarter, the MRE project will be expanded to Uige.
Approximately 35 MRE mini-instructors from across Huila province and 15 government representatives from Huila province gathered in Quipungo municipality to participate in a mini-instructors' workshop organised by UNICEF's partner NGO 'Club de Jovens.' Mini-instructors are elementary school students who volunteer to teach MRE messages in their schools and communities. Based on information and data collected during the workshop, a manual was drafted to create and support MRE mini-instructors. The finalised manuals will be distributed among school teachers and other youth leaders so that mini-instructors can be trained by school teachers in addition to MRE NGOs. Currently, UNICEF supports training MRE mini-instructors projects in Uige, Huila, Moxico and Lunda Norte provinces.
UNICEF's Education Section is producing manuals for life skills education for out-of-school youth. A chapter has been designed on MRE and has been integrated into the trainer's manual together with HIV/AIDS prevention, human rights, conflict resolution and other subjects. This manual will be used by readers/facilitators through networks of the Catholic and Methodist Churches, National Youth Council (CNJ), and civil society organisations. About 3,000 copies will be printed and facilitators representing these organisations will be trained on how to utilise the manual to teach out-of-school youth.
UNICEF, together with the Mine Victim Assistance Unit of the National Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH), is designing a "Handbook for People with Disability," including mine victims. This handbook will have useful information that people with disabilities, especially mine victims, as well as rights and entitlements guaranteed through Angolan law. This handbook will be distributed among mine victims, mine action NGOs, core ministries such as the Ministry of Social Welfare, the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Children, and the Ministry of the Interior in all 18 provinces.
UNICEF received 10,000 USD from CNIDAH to implement UNICEF Angola's MRE Annual Work Plan. This decision was made by CNIDAH to strengthen UNICEF-CNIDAH collaboration and commitment to work together to reduce the numbers of mine accidents as much as possible through MRE.
UNICEF's mine action programme is currently supported by contributions from the Government of Australia, CIDA, and the UNICEF National Committee for Canada.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In the period from January to April, UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) continued to provide technical, financial and logistical support mainly to the BiH Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) and to implementing agencies involved in MRE and Landmine Victim Assistance (LMVA).
With UNICEF support in May, the BHMAC organised the MRE Quality Assurance (QA) Training, where 22 BHMAC managers were trained in Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for QA in MRE activities and mechanisms of quality assurance.
In June, the SOP for QA was adopted by the BiH Demining Commission. Also in June, MRE QA Training for 29 managers from MRE organisations was organised by the BHMAC with the support of UNICEF.
Supported by UNICEF, an LMVA coordination meeting was held in June, where the BHMAC presented the mine victim database regarding cooperation and fundraising for the finalisation of the database.
The BHMAC continued with daily activities related to management, quality assurance of MRE in the country, preparing the documentation needed for the development of MRE plans, collecting and approving MRE plans as well as updating the MRE database. The BHMAC provided assistance to local and international mine action organisations and NGOs with analyses, recommendations and technical opinion on MRE and LMVA project implementation and proposals.
UNICEF is continuing to provide financial and technical support to the Mine Action sector for national MRE Coordination through the Cambodian Mine Action/Victim Assistance Authority, community-based Mine Risk Reduction, the mass media campaign through the Cambodia Mine Action Centre, and school MRE for children through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. Mine Risk Education materials are also provided to different MRE operators. Prostheses, wheelchairs and other mobility devices as well as assistance for rehabilitation to children and women victims of landmines/UXO and other causes of disabilities continued also with the support of UNICEF.
In June, 34 new victims were reported resulting from 21 mine/UXO accidents. This represents a decrease of 41% compared with the 58 victims reported in June 2006. Out of the 34, 16 victims were injured or killed by UXO accidents and 18 were victims of mine accidents. Nineteen were men, three were women and 12 were children. 73% had received MRE prior to the accidents and 47% were injured or killed while tampering with mines and UXO.
Mine/UXO Victim Information:
In 2007, the total number of casualties reported from January to July reached 145. This represents more than the total of all casualties for 2006.
UNICEF continued its lead role for MRE providing coordination, technical, and financial support to the government's National High Commission for Demining (HCND). During the first half of the year, host communities, IDPs (20 areas), Sudanese refugees (12 camps) and refugees from the Central African Republic (3 camps) participated in MRE sessions. A total of three HCND MRE teams implemented MRE activities. Through other initiatives, UNICEF, in collaboration with the HCND, has launched campaigns on Mine Awareness to provide key awareness messages and information to large groups of people in a short time. This was necessary in eastern Chad due to accelerating military operations.
UNICEF supported MRE for vulnerable children such as those who were associated with armed forces and groups and affected by armed conflict, but also children in public and Koranic schools. A series of new MRE materials including one leaflet in French and Arabic and some audio spots were produced and distributed as part of this initiative. During May and June, MRE operators supported by UNICEF reached more than 15,000 persons.
In collaboration with the HCND and the Ministry of Education (MEN), UNICEF initiated a project for the integration of MRE into the school curricula. Through this initiative, a total of 5,000 future teachers have been trained and equipped with MRE materials (8 schools). With an aim to develop national capacity, it has been agreed that the HCND and the MEN will have the overall lead and responsibility for implementation and follow-up on this project, while the UN will provide technical and financial support. A kit of MRE materials (new picture box) has already been developed in close consultation with the HCND.
The UNICEF MRE programme for 2007 continued to focus on reducing the impact of mines/ERW through strengthening national capacity to plan and manage MRE activities; promoting safe behaviour among populations and thereby reducing injuries and casualties; supporting a mechanism for a systematic victim surveillance system that leads towards comprehensive assistance to victims - advocating for and promoting their rights to adequate standards of living, health, non discrimination and access to basic services; and reviewing the existing MRE materials and preparing a generic package of MRE materials.
MRE in school, community capacity building, and direct MRE to high risk populations:
In partnership with INTERSOS, UNICEF is supporting the second phase of the integrated MRE project started in June. This project covers four contaminated governorates in southern Iraq (Basrah, Missan, Thi-Qar, and Muthana). The project is expected to: train 800 children in child-to-child skills for MRE; train 700 teachers; provide MRE to 160,000 schoolchildren; sensitise 50,000 at-risk populations through community-based MRE, emergency response, and mass media; and assist the Regional Mine Action Centre in data collection for victim surveillance.
UNICEF also supported a small scale project implemented by a local NGO in the north, covering 10 contaminated villages, reaching 400 children and 150 adolescents. A participatory approach with role-plays, story writing, and home-based activities was used to educate children on the risk of mines, ERW and promote safe behaviour.
Building national/institutional capacity:
The review of the coordination mechanism and action plan for better coordination with stakeholders and the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) in 2006 laid a foundation and continued in 2007. As a result, MRE Coordination has now been expanded to include victim assistance, clearance and other issues. Regional Mine Action Centres are now coordinating on a monthly basis and are able to address the problems faced on MRE and other mine action related issues and find solutions at the regional levels.
UNICEF also supported MRE training for 40 social workers from Iraq as part of capacity building efforts. The social workers are from both north and the centre-south and are working with children in institutions and street, assisting them in psychosocial support and reintegration back to the family. In doing so, these social workers will also work with IDP children and families; therefore, their acquired knowledge on MRE will help at-risk populations to learn about the risk of mines and ERW during their move from one place to another.
In the second quarter of 2007, UNICEF provided support through the UXO National Regulatory Authority (NRA) for a workshop on MRE messages and materials, focusing on gathering information on the following topics:
The results of this workshop, as well as the Mines Advisory Group (MAG)-UNICEF UXO Risk Education Needs Assessment completed at the end of 2006, will be the core reference documents for the development of new MRE materials to be initiated in August with UNICEF support.
UNICEF also supported four persons from the UXO NRA to participate on a study trip to Cambodia. The group was particularly interested by the approaches to dealing with the scrap metal trade through a combination of MRE, regulation and implementation of the law and the different actors involved, including the police. It is envisioned that some of these good practices will be adapted to the Lao situation.
Emergency Mine Risk Education
Forty-four new focal points have been trained by UNICEF and the Nepal Red Cross Society in emergency MRE and received the 'Emergency MRE kit.' The kit has been designed to conduct quick response MRE in the most at-risk areas. In total, 90 MRE focal points from more than 40 districts have been trained in emergency MRE. The network includes Army and Police staff, Red Cross volunteers, local UNICEF offices and NGOs. In relation to emergency MRE, 40,000 Aide Memoires have also been disseminated.
Mapping of most affected villages on the basis of victim-activated explosions
UNICEF completed the mapping of 58 (out of 75) districts affected by victim-activated explosions since 1 January 2005. This mapping includes the identification of a total of 152 'recently' affected Village Development Committees (out of 3,914) with the dates and number of casualties for each incident. Districts and villages have been ranked from the most affected to the least affected. The document is one of the key tools which allow Nepali mine action organisations to prioritize their activities. In the near future, with the collaboration of UNMIN, OCHA and armies, the mapping should also include locations of clash sites and minefields.
Improvised Explosive Device and Mine Safety Training for UNMIN Arms and Civilian Monitors
As part of their induction training programme, all UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) arms and civilian monitors receive a 90-minute safety briefing on IEDs, mines and ERW conducted by UNICEF. As of the end of June, more than 150 UN monitors benefited from this programme.
In June, the Nepalese Army, the Armed Police Force, the Civil Police, the Maoist Army, and the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction have been invited to join the Mine Action Working Group. To date, the group has consisted of the UN, the Red Cross and international NGOs. This group has been providing surveillance, information, and advocacy with regard to mine action and victim assistance and has also come up with a coordinated response plan on emergency MRE.
Establishment of a National Mine Action Authority
UNICEF collaborated with the UNMIN Mine Action Unit and the Nepal Army for the sensitisation and the involvement of the Nepal Government in mine action. The Government will establish a mine action authority, consisting of an inter-ministerial Steering Committee with policy responsibilities and an implementing Technical Committee - both under the stewardship of the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction.
The number of accidents involving children and UXO taking place in and around Mogadishu has sharply increased in the past two months since the bombardment of the capital (including many civilian and residential areas) earlier this year by the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces and their Ethiopian allies. The most recent incident, on 6 July, involved an unspecified ERW which killed eight people, including five children, and injured several others.
This extremely grave situation is proving difficult to respond to given the continued instability in Mogadishu and the absence of international staff from all agencies. A recent UNMAS assessment was conducted in Mogadishu and long-term planning is now in place for the establishment of a Mine Action Centre in Southern Somalia. However, more immediate action needs to be taken in the coming weeks and months, and currently the Danish Demining Group is proposing a rapid six-month intervention.
UNICEF is running MRE spots on a radio station with coverage across Mogadishu and beyond. These have been running several times a day for two months. In mid-July, community-based child protection advocates (CPAs), including those from South Somalia, will be trained on MRE by Handicap International. Materials are being provided for MRE campaigns in Mogadishu by UNESCO. The CPAs will be deployed across Mogadishu to try to ensure that MRE messages reach communities most at risk. Messages are also under preparation for school clubs.
For the period May to June, UNICEF supported MRE through mass media, community-based activities and built capacity of the project counterparts in basic MRE and relevant topics. At the local level, a series of TV and radio programmes were developed and broadcasted through local channels in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri provinces in the national and local languages.
At the central level, representatives of UNICEF's counterparts, including provincial radio and television, were trained in the development of good quality mass media products for MRE. In addition, in terms of MRE, adults and children in some highly affected areas of six Central Region provinces received information about UXO/mine risks and preventive measures through educational performances made by 60 children and youth communication teams on a weekly and monthly basis. Moreover, core trainers at the Ministry of Education and Training were trained to guide other teachers in mainstreaming MRE in the primary school curriculum. As a result, 70 core teachers in Quang Binh province were trained to pilot MRE in their schools.
1 LMAC is the new name for the National Demining Office-NDO