Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
May 24, 2007
Inside this newsletter:
I. POLICY COORDINATION, TREATY IMPLEMENTATION, INFORMATION, AND RESOURCE MOBILIZATION
Tenth International Meeting of Mine Action National Directors and UN Advisors (Geneva, 20-22 March 2007)
The Tenth Annual Meeting of Mine Action Directors and UN Advisors was a great opportunity for the mine action community to take stock of where the sector stands currently and plan ahead. Agenda items focused on areas of assistance by the UN Mine Action Team to enhance national capacity development and transition efforts, and addressing creative solutions for resource mobilisation efforts. A theme repeated throughout the proceedings was the need to "to innovate, adapt and economize." This Tenth meeting also featured a wider representation of mine action stakeholders, including commercial companies, NGO implementers and technical experts from donor governments, in addition to national authorities and United Nations representatives. The full agenda, presentations, and summary remarks prepared by UNMAS are available on www.mineaction.org.
Monthly meetings of the IACG-MA and second meeting of IACG-MA Sub-Working Group in Geneva (23 March 2007)
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 Intersessionals, cluster munitions, and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). UNMAS convened the Cluster Munitions Working Group to help ensure that UN participation at the Oslo meeting in February was well-coordinated. UNMAS organized and convened the second meeting of the IACG-MA Geneva Sub-Group, held in Geneva, on 23 March 2007. This subsidiary body of the IACG-MA aims to promote more active participation of IACG-MA Geneva-based agencies. OHCHR colleagues reported on how the Human Rights Council is taking up the issue of cluster munitions, and on the very positive outlook for speedy ratification and entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The Mine Ban Treaty's Implementation Support Unit emphasized the significance of the new treaty for the protection of the rights of mine/ERW survivors. OCHA and UNHCR colleagues encouraged the involvement of UNMAS in the humanitarian cluster approach to emergency response, and expressed support for UNMAS' effort to obtain funding through the Cluster Appeal for a Geneva-based staff member to ensure effective rapid response.
International Legal Frameworks
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities opened for signature and ratification on 30 March 2007. UNMAS is working with Landmine Survivors Network to distribute fact sheets and ratification kits to mine action centres, and to encourage mine action staff to advocate for early ratification with their national counterparts.
On the margins of the National Directors meeting in Geneva in March, UNMAS and UNDP collaborated with the Implementation Support Unit of the Mine Ban Convention to provide training to national directors and UN advisors from mine-affected countries.
UNMAS coordinated the development of several statements to be presented on behalf of the UN Mine Action team at the inter-sessionals of the Mine Ban Convention States Parties in April 2007.
UNMAS is supporting the activities by States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to commemorate the tenth anniversary of its adoption. The UNMAS Liaison Officer participated as facilitator at a Symposium held in Vienna on 12 February 2007 where the focus of discussions was on victim assistance.
UNMAS has been asked by the Netherlands to assist in deliberations on the implementation of Protocol V (Netherlands will chair the first Meeting of States Parties on Protocol V) on ERW and is preparing a discussion paper on recording, retaining and sharing of information.
Follow-up on Cluster Munitions
UNMAS provided substantive input to the report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Human Rights Council on action taken to address the problem of cluster munitions in south Lebanon and generally.
Advancing Gender Equality in Mine Action Programmes
UNMAS conducted a series of meetings with gender experts at the World Bank in Washington DC to learn how to develop gender-sensitive indicators of progress for our field programmes, how best to conduct gender-sensitivity training, and how to carry out gender-sensitive evaluations. UNMAS also met with gender experts at the Swedish International Development Agency. UNMAS secured funding commitments from Canada and Denmark to support a gender-mainstreaming project in our Afghanistan programme, to develop gender-sensitive impact assessment tools and to support the development of concrete field-based action plans in a number of UNMAS and UNDP-supported programmes.
In addition, 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 we are constantly bringing lessons learned from the mine action sector to the attention of colleagues in other sectors. Field colleagues are urged to engage in similar initiatives at field level.
A Mine Action Support Group Meeting was held in Geneva on 23 March 2007. The theme for the meeting was victim assistance. UNMAS described the mine action team's approach to victim assistance, as reflected in our inter-agency policy and strategy. It was also noted that $3.5m (1.4%) of the $ 240 million received towards projects included in the end year review of the 2006 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects was for survivor assistance projects. Seventy-four survivor assistance projects, with a total appeal amount of $19.6m, are included in the 2007 Portfolio. This information will be up-dated on e-mine (www.mineaction.org) in April 2007. Representatives of the UNMAS-managed Sudan programme also described their efforts to develop a national strategy and work plan for victim assistance with support from the Human Security Trust Fund.
II. NEW PLEDGES, EARMARKINGS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE VOLUNTARY TRUST FUND (VTF)
Contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Actionfor the first Quarter January - March 2007:
Amount donor currency
Work on supporting the European Standardisation (CEN) Workshops continued in this period with additional meetings held for the workshop on Personal Protection Equipment and the workshops related to the follow-on activities behind mechanical clearance devices.
The German Federal Institute of Material Testing (BAM) hosted a meeting to report on the conclusion of the Systematic Testing of Metal Detectors series of field tests and began the discussion related to testing procedures for multi sensor detectors. Multi sensor detectors will be looked at independently later this year.
The International Test and Evaluation Programme (ITEP) held a meeting of the Executive Committee and the 2007 Work Plan was agreed and finalized. This will be distributed by UNMAS and is available on the ITEP Website.
At the Tenth National Directors and UN Advisors meeting in Geneva there were technical presentations on the current status of three dual sensor detectors (HSTAMIDS, MINEHOUND and the Advanced Landmine Identification System (ALIS)). These presentations raised considerable interest and the reality of their field operational deployment was emphasized. HSTAMIDS is, in effect, already being used operationally.
At the same meeting the concept of a new form of face protection was shown and also raised considerable interest. With production items expected in a few months, deminers will now have a lighter, more comfortable, alternative to the heavy full face visor in use today.
VI. DEVELOPMENTS IN UNMAS-MANAGED PROGRAMMES
The UNMAS Director, Chief of Programme Support, and Programme Officer deployed to Afghanistan over the period in order to facilitate consultations 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 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 mission also coincided with International Day for Mine Action and Mine Awareness which was celebrated with a dinner attended by much of the donor community and wider mine action partners in Kabul.
During the reporting period the UNMACA completed a range of significant operational and procedural changes in plans and activities being implemented by the NGO and Commercial organisations. This included the shift to the one man one lane drills for the NGOs which was in place as of 1 April 2007. It is anticipated that this will have a considerable positive impact on operational effectiveness and efficiency, the results of which will be monitored over the coming months. Mine dog accreditation also continued with 121 dogs accredited by end of March, as did the review of the Afghan Mine Action Standards. The national NGOs also underwent significant streamlining and rationalisation of their supporting elements during the reporting period in order to increase funding for field operational assets as of 1 April.
The funding situation for the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan through the VTF stabilised for the first half of 2007 with contributions in March from Canada (CIDA US$4,253,509 and US$1,701,404 and DFAIT US$425,026) and the European Commission (US$2,663,400). These resources have enabled the continued conduct of operations throughout the country, inclusive of additional activities being planned and implemented in the Southern Region, security allowing.
Increased dialogue with partners in the Government of Afghanistan has also been initiated in an effort to clarity the roles of and relationship with key interlocutors and to energise progress towards transition. This will be continued and expanded over 2007 and will be supported by the ongoing nationalisation process within the UNMACA. Progress in this area saw the recruitment and placement of additional senior national staff in the positions of Chief of Quality Management and Chief of Plans while the international staff developed plans for continued skills transfer and capacity development as a priority.
Security remains a concern within the country, with the UNMACA continuously monitoring the situation and shifting assets and personnel away from high threat areas wherever possible. This process will be assisted by the retention of additional security personnel in the Southern region to focus on the situation there. One MAPA vehicle was caught in the crossfire between anti-government elements and NATO forces in Kapisa Province during the reporting period resulting in the wounding of one NGO staff member. Operations continued elsewhere throughout the country.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UNMACC has been seeking to identify counterparts within 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 VFA is planning to shortly resume emergency survey and clearance activities.
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. On 16 March 2007, the Eritrean authorities informed UNMEE of their decision to expel the Programme Manager of the MACC, due to "repeated violations of Eritrean laws and regulations by UNMEE-MACC management." Though UNMEE does not agree with the decision and its rationale, it has complied with the expulsion order, and the Programme Manager has been re-located to Addis Ababa for the time being.
Clean-up of the estimated one million unexploded cluster munitions continues unabated in south Lebanon. During the first quarter of 2007, out of an estimated total of 35,261,505 sqm contaminated area, 4,934,124 sqm of the surface and 834,731 sqm of the sub-surface have been cleared through the location and destruction of more than 113,000 unexploded cluster munitions.
This is the result of the joint efforts of LAF, UNIFIL, and UN contracted and bilaterally funded clearance capacity operating under the coordination of the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre - South Lebanon (MACC-SL). There are a total of 97 BAC and EOD teams currently working under the MACC-SL coordination (75 UN contracted and bilaterally funded teams and 22 UNIFIL teams). Since January 2007, the New Zealand Defence Force is providing in-kind BAC capacity in support of the MACC SL.
In addition, a joint UNDP MACC-SL project funded by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security officially commenced early March: two battle area clearance teams trained by Mines Advisory Group will be funded for a period of two years and will conduct unexploded sub-munitions clearance around the village of Maifadoun (Area 6), one of the most cluster munitions contaminated areas in South Lebanon.
Despite an obvious dropping of casualties figures, there have been 17 additional incidents among the civilians during the first quarter of 2007 (three were killed and 14 injured), as well as a series of unfortunate demining and CBU accidents involving five personnel. Since the cease-fire, a total of 192 civilians have been injured (170) or killed (22) as a result of cluster munitions.
With excellent levels of funding, the objective of this programme is to clear systematically the estimated 35 million square meters of cluster munitions contaminated land by the end of December 2007.
As at 31 March 2007, UNMAS reported a total amount of $12,499,868 received in 2006 in the VTF and earmarked for South-Lebanon programme. The total amount of confirmed pledges made by donors for the year 2007 is $12,210,901.
In Sudan, the mine action programme continues to provide full support to the UN Mission in Sudan. Achievements for the first quarter include the clearance of 3,261,542 m2, the assessment of 4,075 km of road, and the destruction of 658 AP mines, 532 AT mines, and 86,195 UXO. Voluntary contributions have increased the capacity to meet humanitarian requirements outside of the mission mandate, especially in support of returning refugees and internally-displaced persons. Such contributions also support the ongoing Landmine Impact Survey. The recent completion of the LIS for Blue Nile State indicated that 6.3% of communities are being impacted by landmines. The LIS is currently being conducted in the states of Kassala, Red Sea, Gaderreff, and Northern and Western Bahr El Ghazal.
Security remains a challenge to demining operations. Force Protection requirements in the South continue to hamper the progress of demining operations. Planned deployments in Darfur continue to be aborted due to the on-going deterioration of the security situation and restrictions on movement.
A two-day workshop to assist the development of a national strategy for victim assistance was held in Juba in March 2007, the first of its kind on victim assistance in Sudan. The UNMAO, with funding from the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, provided logistic and substantive support for the workshop which brought together officials from the Government of National Unity, Government of South Sudan, local NGOs from north and south, and UN agencies. A draft national strategy was developed during the workshop for endorsement by the abovementioned stakeholders by the end of April. This consolidated strategy is expected to function as a nation-wide foundation to further facilitate implementation of victim assistance activities throughout Sudan, within the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Further funding is needed in order to continue the expansion and support of VA activities.
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. During this period, the MAU has in particular assessed the situation with respect to IEDs and explosive devices within the seven Maoist cantonments, and developed a plan for assisting in the safe handling and demolition of those items. A specialized commercial company, Armour Group, has been contracted, with funding from the Nepal Peace Fund, and deployed to Nepal on 15 April. An estimated total of ten tons of explosives are currently stored at the seven sites, consisting of bulk explosives, IEDs and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The MAU has been monitoring the storage process and has made recommendations for the improvement of the storage facilities. Maoist commanders have been given advice on mitigating the risk of accidental detonation, and have been requested to identify a location for the establishment of a demolition range at each cantonment site. The MAU has urged the early destruction of all items stored, in view of the dangers resulting from the combination of an accumulation of explosives on storage sites, increasing temperatures, and the age and condition of some of the explosives. A demolition plan has been approved by both the Maoists and the Nepalese Army, giving priority to the disposal of items classified as unsafe to store. The MAU is also liaising with the Nepal Army to provide support, within the MAU capabilities, to clear its own mine fields.
Western Sahara (MINURSO)
In Western Sahara, with bilateral funding and a contribution from UNMAS, Landmine Action (LMA), a UK based NGO which deployed in August 2006, has now completed training and equipment of a local Survey/Battle Area Clearance/Explosive Ordnance Disposal capacity operating within the POLISARIO controlled areas of the territory. As of April 2007, with support from MINURSO and POLISARIO, LMA has surveyed 254 areas in the vicinity of Tifariti and Bir Lahlou, and destroyed hundreds of items of Unexploded Ordnance. UNMAS is expecting mobilizing sufficient resources to continue supporting LMA's activities which are essential for improving the safety of local population, MINURSO military observers, and future returnees.
Chad and Central African Republic
UNMAS has developed a concept of operations for mine action in support of future peacekeeping mission in eastern Chad and Central African Republic (MiNUTAC). Planning and preparation are ongoing for deploying a mine action coordination team and a Survey-EOD capacity within the mission area as soon as MiNUTAC is established.2. Update from UNDP
The following is a summary of key achievements, challenges, objectives and funding issues for UNDP-supported country programmes, presented by region:
I. Africa Region
II. Arab States Region
III. Asia-Pacific Region
IV. Europe & the CIS Region
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)
The following is a summary of key achievements, challenges, objectives and funding issues for UNICEF country programmes:
In Afghanistan, UNICEF continues working with governmental and non-governmental partners in order to integrate Mine Risk Education (MRE) within the larger mine action and humanitarian efforts, including integration within governmental/national mechanisms. UNICEF interventions focus particularly on protection of the most at-risk populations, such as children, returnees/IDPs and children and youth affected by armed conflict.
In 2007, UNICEF is working closely with the 'Healthy School Initiative' (HSI) UN Joint Programme partners to incorporate MRE into the HSI training package and also establish "Safe Play Areas" for children in communities where the HSI is being implemented. Based on the list of the HSI schools and the UN Mine Action Centre of Afghanistan's list of high-impacted communities, 38 Safe Play Areas (5 in the East, 10 in the North, 12 in the Central, 9 in the West and 2 in the South) have been identified. UNICEF is now in the process of identifying local partners to facilitate community consultations to plan and construct the Safe Play Areas.
In March, UNICEF organised a one-day workshop to review and discuss the MRE training material for the HSI project. Ten national and international organisations that are actively involved in MRE in Afghanistan participated in the workshop. Following the workshop, a Task Force for HSI Material Development was established which subsequently prepared the draft material for the HSI training. UNICEF is planning another consultative workshop with partners to endorse the MRE training material for the HSI.
Also, UNICEF continues supporting MRE for vulnerable children such as those who were associated with armed forces and groups and affected by armed conflict. In 2007, over 3,500 children have received MRE as part of the on-going Reintegration project in nine provinces of Afghanistan. UNICEF is planning to expand MRE in the southern region where the need for MRE is believed to be increasing due to accelerating military operations.
In order to address Mine Risk Education (MRE) needs in Angola's changing context, UNICEF aims to achieve two major goals during 2007. First, to further strengthen the capacity of the governmental mine action structures: the National Inter-Sectoral Commission for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance [CNIDAH] and the Ministry of Education [MoE]) and national NGOs to develop integrated MRE programmes as part of a national mine action plan to reduce mine accidents. This is to allow for UNICEF's MRE transition strategy in Angola and the smooth handover of MRE activities to CNIDAH, the MoE, and the National Institute for Demining (INAD) and local NGOs. The second goal is to advocate for the protection and promotion of the rights of landmine survivors and children affected by landmines and UXO.
Community-Based MRE Project: Seminars on a Solution-based approach for Mine Action
Together with CNIDAH, UNICEF organised a six-day Training of Trainers' workshop on Solution-Based MRE for mine action operators last autumn. From 21-23 March 2007, UNICEF supported AAR/CAPDC (Association for Aid and Relief, Japan / Support Center for the Promotion and Development of Communities) to organise a 3-day follow-up seminar in Saurimo, Lunda Sul province. Over 35 MRE implementers from the most mine-affected provinces, government representative from Lunda Sul and Luanda Level participated in this seminar. The objectives of the seminar were to:
Participants were content with the participatory learning methodology utilised in communities with mine problems. The tools taught during the seminar will be implemented in the rest of the provinces immediately.
International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (April 4th): UNICEF, together with CNIDAH and UNDP, celebrated the "International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. UNICEF initiated efforts to make a joint press release and speech for the Representative for the UN system in Angola. UNICEF worked with four partner NGOs in Huila, Malange, Moxico and Uige to prepare special events to celebrate the day in the provinces. They organised various activities such as round table discussions on the rights of mine victims, raising awareness on the current mine situation in the province, sports event involving mine survivors, children's drawing context on MRE, theatre/dance session on MRE, among others. All events were widely covered by local media.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In the period from January to April 2007, 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 Mine Risk Education (MRE) and Landmine Victim Assistance (LMVA).
With UNICEF support, the BHMAC continued organising the working group for the development of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for quality assurance in MRE. As a result, the final draft of the SOP was finalised in April and will be sent to the BiH Demining Commission for approval.
In April, the MRE Policy board was held, where the BHMAC presented results of the accreditation processes for MRE organisations. As well, the draft SOP for Quality Assurance was presented to NGOs for their professional feedback, and the future coordination was defined.
The BHMAC continued with daily activities related to management, MRE quality assurance, 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.
In March, UNICEF provided 10,400 mine warning signs and equipment to the BH Mine Action Centre.
On April 4th, UNICEF, together with UNDP and the BHMAC, celebrated the "International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action." Together with partners on the state and local levels, including state institutions and non-governmental organisations, a Mine Action Fair was organised in Sarajevo. From statements to the media by the Minister of Civil Affairs and the BiH UN Resident Coordinator, a press release was published and broadcast. As part of the observance of Mine Action Day, the Ambassador of Canada and the UNICEF BiH Representative handed over mine warning signs to the BHMAC Director. The event was supported with distribution of printed materials (leaflets, T-shirts, posters, etc) in several locations in BIH, including appearances of mine action stakeholders on state and local TV and radio stations.
The UNICEF Mine Action Programme is currently supported by contributions from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development, the UNICEF National Committee of Ireland, and a contribution from the Government of Canada. The focus of the programme on local capacity building for integrated mine action requires long term planning and multi-year funding. The current financial situation of the programme is of serious concern, as UNICEF urgently requires 500,000 USD for 2007.
UNICEF continues to provide financial and technical support to the Mine Action sector for national Mine Risk Education (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, national polices, scrap metal dealers and school-based MRE for children through the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. MRE materials are also provided to different MRE operators. With the support of UNICEF, 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 also continued.
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has recently been translated into the Khmer language and it has been distributed to relevant counterparts.
Mine/UXO Victim Information: In 2007, the total number of casualties reported from January to March reached 106. This represented a decrease of 44 casualties compared to 150 casualties during the same period in 2006. Seventy percent of the total casualties received MRE prior to the accident. Thirty-three percent out of the total casualties were children under 18 years of age. Sixty percent of incidents occurred in villages while the individual was farming, cutting wood, seeking scrap metal, or expanding agricultural land, and 56% were injured or killed by UXO.
Mine Risk Education and Risk Reduction Report: During the three-month reporting period, MRE operators supported by UNICEF have reached 21,846 children and 34,466 adults. In addition, they have reported and destroyed 1,028 mines and 10,048 UXO.
UNICEF's national mine action programme has been running since 1999. UNICEF has supported local interventions in 120 municipalities, using public information campaigns, advocacy, mine risk education (MRE), training and community liaison activities, together with the National Landmines Observatory and several partner NGOs. Currently, UNICEF has a field-based capacity of 43 focal points for mine action. UNICEF is the UN system's focal point in Colombia for coordinating action against mines. In this capacity, UNICEF has led the design and implementation of a multi-year strategy for mine action which has included active and sustained participation of more than 14 actors.
Together with its counterparts in the departments of Antioquia, Cauca, and Magdalena Medio, UNICEF has developed a training programme for local authorities and landmine survivors on the rights of victims of armed conflict. To date, some 5,000 local civil servants have been trained. The programme also provides direct support to landmine survivors who are in the process of claiming the humanitarian aid established by law. Approximately 300 landmine survivors have received support to date.
In Bolivar and East Antioquia, UNICEF is supporting Handicap International in the identification, rehabilitation and social reintegration of 73 mine survivors, and the Centre for Integral Rehabilitation in Colombia (CIREC) in the identification, rehabilitation and social reintegration of 265 people with disability. By working with local institutions to promote the rights of victims of landmines and to ensure that the duty bearers respond to their obligations for their treatment and well-being, 17 landmine survivors have already established productive projects and a further 15 are currently in the process of training and preparation.
UNICEF is currently providing support to mine action activities in the departments of Antioquia, Cauca Narino, Bolivar, Sucre and Choco through MRE programmes, including training of trainers and direct intervention in affected communities, and providing support to victims and their families to access services and humanitarian assistance. The new UNICEF Facilitator's Guidebook for MRE, having been tested with community facilitators and affected communities, will be adapted accordingly. This guide will be used with a package of other didactic materials and training of local promoters to manage relevant information and work with communities to develop practical solutions to live safely in a mined environment. "Training of Trainers" training will be carried out for 21 facilitators from four departments in mid-May.
The continued use and presence of mines and UXO and the absence of humanitarian demining in Colombia mean that activities in MRE and awareness raising are the only opportunities available to mitigate the threat to the civilian population. For that reason, UNICEF and partners have given the highest priority to an accident prevention strategy based on risk reduction education methodologies in those municipalities and communities that are directly affected.
The UNICEF Mine Action Programme is currently supported by contributions from the Governments of Canada, Switzerland, from the Spanish Cooperation and the United Kingdom's Department for International Development.
In the first quarter of 2007, UNICEF continued cooperation and support to the UXO National Regulatory Authority (NRA). An Annual Workplan was signed between UNICEF and the NRA for detailing activities for 2007.
The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was celebrated with Lieutenant-General Douangchay Phichith, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense / Chairman of the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO Sector and Ms. Sonam Yangchen Rana, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, with the Resident UN Coordinator officially opening an exhibition on UXO clearance, Community Awareness and Victim Assistance activities.
As a tool for capacity development workshops, UNICEF has completed translation of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) related to MRE into the Lao language. This document will be distributed through the MRE Technical Working Group.
Although currently there is no comprehensive casualty data collection system in Laos, statistics in the first three months of 2007 show that 55% of reported casualties involve children, an increase from previous reports. UNICEF will support the NRA in the updating and development of new risk education messages throughout the year.
Don't Touch Explosive Devices - Save Limbs, Save Lives campaign: Following a sharp rise in incidents of victim-activated explosions after the cease-fire, mostly affecting children, the Mine Action Group of Nepal launched a nationwide campaign on 2 February 2007 entitled, "Jyaan Jogaaun, Apaanga Huna Baata Bachaun - Bisphotak Padartha Nachhau!" (Don't Touch Explosives - Save Limbs, Save Lives).
The campaign, which incorporates advertisements and public service announcements in print, radio and television, seeks to raise awareness about the dangers from mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The campaign has been wholeheartedly supported by civil society, the Nepal Army, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and other UN partners. Radio spots were produced in Nepali and six local languages and aired through 36 national and local FM radio stations. Messages were also published in regional and district level newspapers.
The 'Save Limbs- Save Lives' campaign seeks to encourage civilians to report the location of explosive devices all across the country to NGOs or local authorities who will then call one hot-line number to inform authorities about the existence and location of explosive devices. Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), a national NGO and Mine Action Group partner, is responsible for receiving such information, compiling the ammunition reports, and alerting authorities for disposal or clearance.
Production of Emergency Mine Risk Education Kit: After extensive field-testing, UNICEF produced and has begun distributing Emergency Mine Risk Education (MRE) Kits, in collaboration with the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS), ICRC and other partner international organizations and NGOs. To date, two training-of-trainers (TOTs) have been conducted with 46 MRE focal representatives around the country and as many Emergency MRE Kits have been distributed. These kits consist of big canvas bags, red spray paint, flip charts, users' guides, posters, first aid kits and brochures.
UNICEF and the NRCS also provided training to 88 Junior Nepal Red Cross Society volunteers and 44 teachers in the district of Sunsari in Eastern Nepal. Emergency MRE materials were also distributed during the training.
Distribution of Hazard signs to Nepal Army (NA) and People's Liberation Army (PLA): UNICEF also produced and distributed 1,000 hazard signs each to the Nepal Army and PLA. The hazard signs are in red and feature skull and crossbones with text that reads Danger, Stay Away. These signs provide a warning to the general public about keeping away from areas, which are under the control of the Nepal Army or the PLA, and which may contain mines, IEDs or other explosive devices.
Second International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action: UNICEF organised a programme to mark the the Second International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. It was attended by members of civil society; the Mine Action Group in Nepal, the Nepal Army, and the People's Liberation Army, and other UN and development partners.
The programme highlighted MRE efforts being undertaken and the need for more funding for victim assistance. The Nepal Army also pledged to speed up their demining efforts around the country and to coordinate with civil society wherever possible.
Russia, North Caucasus
UNICEF continued to act as the focal point for Mine Action-related activities in Chechnya. Two meetings with Government officials were organised during the reporting period, including with delegates of the Chechen Parliament and the Republican Ministry of Emergencies (EMERCOM). Both meetings discussed actions that need to be taken to reduce the mine/UXO risk for civilians. The establishment of a Mine Information Centre in Chechnya was also discussed with the parliamentarians, and recognised as an important step in preparing for the creation of a Government-led Mine Action Centre.
During the reporting period, UNICEF chaired monthly coordination meetings with the participation of UNDP, the ICRC, the Danish Refugee Council, 'Voice of the Mountains' (VoM), and 'Let's Save the Generation.' The meetings reviewed on-going activities and discussed follow-up actions to a meeting held in December 2006 with the Chechen President's Administration. The organisation of a Mine Action workshop for Chechen officials has been proposed as an option for raising awareness of the problem.
With a view to building the capacity of UNICEF's partner, VoM, a two-week training was organised for the VoM database manager by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), from 5-16 February 2007. Training modules required for the utilisation of the latest version of IMSMA (Information Management System for Mine Action) were provided. The course also covered topics such as 'Introduction to Information Management in MA,' 'Information Management for Operations in MA,' and others. All training-related expenses were covered by the GICHD, and the new version of IMSMA (4.0) will be installed by a GICHD specialist in June 2007.
Devoted to the celebration of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, UNICEF, through its local implementing partner VoM, organised a festival in Chechnya with the participation of children and youth. A special programme was prepared by the children to reflect the daily mine/UXO impact on children and adults' lives. The event was attended by the Deputy Ministers of Culture and Sports and Education, as well as by the ICRC and the Danish Refugee Council. It was widely covered by local media through a broadcast by Chechen television.
In Sudan, UNICEF continued its lead role for Mine Risk Education (MRE) within the framework of the UN Mine Action Office (UNMAO), providing coordination, technical and financial support to government and NGO partners.
During the first quarter of 2007, a total of 150,312 individuals, primarily IDPs and returnees, participated in MRE sessions throughout the country. A total of 40 MRE teams from nine different local and international organisations implemented MRE activities and targeted at-risk groups by working in affected communities, IDP camps, schools, way stations and 'departure centres' for returnees.
In collaboration with the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) and the Ministry of Education (MoE), UNICEF initiated a project for the integration of MRE into schools. Through this initiative, a total of 2,500 teachers will be trained and equipped with MRE materials during the summer school break. With an aim to develop national capacity, it has been agreed that the NMAA and the MoE will have the overall lead and responsibility for implementation and follow up of this project, while the UN will provide technical and financial support. A kit of MRE materials for teachers has already been developed in close consultation with the NMAA and the MoE and is being field-tested; the first training of trainers' course will start at the end of May 07.
Through another initiative, UNICEF, in collaboration with several other partners, including the NMAA, UN and NGOs, has launched a "Special Information Campaign on Mine Awareness" to provide key awareness messages and information to large groups of people in a short time. A series of new MRE materials, including two posters, one leaflet, a video film, four audio spots, T-Shirts, and a fact sheet, have been produced and used as part of this initiative. So far, three 'Special Information Days' have been organised in three different IDP camps targeting those who will be returning home in the near future.
For the period January to April 2007, UNICEF supported Mine Risk Education (MRE) through mass media, community-based activities, and built capacity of the project counterparts in basic MRE and relevant topics. Specifically, a series of TV and radio programmes were developed and broadcasted through local channels in Thua Thien Hue and Quang Tri provinces during the period in the national and local languages. Particularly, the radio programmes in Thua Thien Hue involved children as junior reporters.
On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, a TV talk show and three TV reports were aired on the national channels. At the same time, a great number of newspapers published articles on topics related to mine action in general, and MRE supported by UNICEF, in particular. In addition, in terms of MRE, adults and children in some highly affected areas of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue provinces received information about UXO/mine risks and preventive measures through educational performances made by 22 children and youth communication teams on a weekly and monthly basis. Moreover, in Thua Thien Hue province, representative children communication teams from all nine districts joined in a special event to present their performances, share experiences and lessons learned. In the mean time, 85 representatives of local youth unions from new districts of Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces were trained on basic MRE and project planning. Finally, a number of planning workshops were organised to plan and start implementation of activities for 2007 at both national and provincial levels.