Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
June 30, 2006
Inside this newsletter:
I. POLICY, TREATY IMPLEMENTATION, INFORMATION AND RESOURCE MOBILIZATION
Advocacy and treaty implementation
The 2006 intersessional meetings of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty took place in Geneva 8-12 May 2006. Its work was divided up among four standing committees covering the following topics: 1) the general status and operation of the Treaty; 2) victim assistance and socio-economic reintegration; 3) mine clearance, mine risk education and mine action technologies; and 4) stockpile destruction. In addition, there were a number of side events and informal meetings that took place along the margins of the plenary.
Among the subjects discussed at the meetings were universalization of the treaty, mine clearance obligations, resources, reporting requirements, stockpiles and victim assistance. Mine clearance received a great deal of attention, with, several delegations noting their concern that some states had indicated that they would not meet the deadlines for their clearance obligations. In this connection, the subject of extensions was extensively discussed, and several participants stressed that requests for extension should be regarded as a last resort and that there is a need to devise a systematic mechanism for addressing such requests. The importance of meeting stockpile destruction obligations also received significant attention, with some delegations noting that several states with stockpile destruction obligations approaching face significant challenges. Discussion also focused on the possible existence of stockpiled mines in a country which the government does not control or even know about.
Mr. Gaylard, UNMAS’ Director, delivered a statement on behalf of the UN mine action team introducing the new UN mine action strategy and describing activities which took place in connection with the first International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
IACG-MA Cluster Munitions Working Group
The IACG-MA Cluster Munitions Working Group met during the second quarter of 2006 to discuss the UN’s position on cluster munitions. UNDP, UNICEF and UNMAS have funded research on cluster munitions conducted by UNIDIR, which is scheduled to be published later this year.
IACG-MA Steering Committee on Gender and Mine Action
The IACG-MA Steering Committee on Gender and Mine Action has continued work along its four-point programme of action to implement the gender guidelines for mine-action programmes:
1. Finalize the headquarter gender audit of our documents and tools – the audit is currently being finalized. A checklist for auditors has been developed.
2. Develop training materials for field staff - the Steering Committee is continuing consultations with Cranfield University to develop the materials.
3. Implementation workshop
3a. Gender workshop at the upcoming Programme Managers/National Directors meeting in July 2006 – a session is being planned involving major mine action stakeholders with experience with gender implementation.
3b. Implementation workshop to share experience and focus on the mainstreaming of gender considerations in several programmes – the workshop is being supported by Denmark and CIDA and will take place in Amman, 5-7 September. The Committee decided to do the workshop, as it recognized that the success of our efforts will depend on the mine action field staff’s sense of the practicality and positive impact of the prescribed actions on the mine action programmes. At the workshop mine action implementers, gender experts, colleagues from other sectors and donors will share and analyze their practical efforts to mainstream gender and achieve gender balance in their work and create follow-up activities to ensure successful implementation of the guidelines, which we will monitor over the coming 12 months.
3c. Country-specific follow-up to the implementation workshop, small delegation visits to specific programmes to assist and monitor progress
4. Commitment of individual agencies to the gender-mainstreaming of their agency work plans
The 2005 UNMAS Annual Report was published in April. The report describes UNMAS' activities, income and expenditures in 2005. It portrays UNMAS’ contribution to the achievement of Security Council-mandated peacekeeping operations in Burundi, Cyprus, DRC, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Kosovo, Lebanon and Sudan. It also describes the significant role that UNMAS plays in other post-conflict settings, most notably Afghanistan. The report is available on E-MINE (www.mineaction.org).
The 2006 Mid-Year Review will be available at www.mineaction.org in early July.
An updated version of the 2006 Portfolio of Mine Action Projects, reflecting project and appeal information current as of end of the first quarter of the year, was made available online at www.mineaction.org in late April 2006.
II. NEW PLEDGES, EARMARKINGS AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE VOLUNTARY TRUST FUND (VTF)
Contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action through 15 June 2006:
Amt. donor currency/US$
Gender and Mine Action
to be earmarked
Total contributions US$ 2,091,816.27
Confirmed Pledges to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action through 15 June 2006:
Amt. donor currency
Gender and Mine Action
Common Humanitarian Fund
Sudan and Ottawa Convention processes
Earmarking of funds in the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action through 15 June 2006:
Amt. of earmarking/US$
Victim Assistance project in Cambodia (AAR)
Mine risk education project in Sudan (AAR)
Funding for mine action through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security:
On 12 June 2006, the Government of Japan and the United Nations (UN) decided to extend assistance totaling US$ 1,745,436 through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security to a project entitled "Crossing the Bridge of Peace: Victim Assistance and Mine Risk Education for Human Security in Sudan" that will be implemented by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). This project aims to assist the social reintegration and empowerment of vulnerable mine-affected communities through four main activities: (a) Organization of workshops to develop a national strategy and work plan for victim assistance involving relevant stakeholders such as government officials, NGOs and landmine survivors; (b) Conducting a needs assessment of landmine victims in order to provide community based vocational training; (c) Providing mine risk education for individuals and communities to minimize the risk of landmines; and (d) Organizing a photography exhibition in Khartoum to raise public awareness of mine action activities.
The third CROMAC International Symposium on technology issues was held from 24 - 27 April and concentrated on mine detection techniques and equipment. It was decided that greater input and assistance should be provided for future meetings and GICHD, UNMAS and the International Test and Evaluation Program for Humanitarian Demining (ITEP) will respond.
At the 2006 intersessional meetings of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty in Geneva, a summary presentation on technology and the current issues was produced by a number of interested agencies and presented to donors. An underlying message is that what is required now is more of what works today rather than completely new technologies.
From 18 - 25 June a Selection Committee met in Tokyo to confirm which Japanese demining equipments should go to Cambodia for test and evaluation trials in 2006. The UNMAS Technology Coordinator attended as an observer. The trials will give the demining community a good opportunity to see how these new technologies perform in realistic conditions. The results should eventually be available on the ITEP Website (www.itep.ws).
IV. DEVELOPMENTS IN UNMAS-MANAGED PROGRAMMES
The Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan is facing a considerable shortfall in available funds for the remainder of 2006. As a result of a reduction in reconstruction related mine action, and the non arrival of some anticipated development and humanitarian funding, operations supported by the Voluntary Trust Fund for the period from 1 July - 31 September 2006 have had to be reduced to approximately 60% of maximum capacity. Briefings on this issue have been conducted with major donors in Kabul, and capitals, however the situation remains critical. The shortfall is currently approximately US$4mm for the coming quarter from 1 July, with an additional US$10-12mm required for the final quarter of $2006, based on current estimates and potential funding from other sources.
In operations, an IED attack on a local NGO implementing partner resulted in the death of one local staff member and injuries to two others in Kandahar in June. Operations are being continued throughout the country, while the security situation is monitored.
The General Community Survey (GCS) that was initiated in May 2005 by the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) has been completed in May 2006, allowing for development of an action plan. As of June 2006, FSD has started mobilizing and training a mine/ERW capacity that will address within the coming weeks mine/ERW suspected areas identified as part of the GCS in the Provinces of Rutana and Ruyigi. A transition plan has been prepared and is being discussed with the Government of Burundi to ensure that transfer of responsibility for mine action to national authorities, with UNDP support, is effective as of 1 July 2006.
The MAC has now finished clearance in all the known and accessible minefields. Discussions are ongoing in regard to getting access to mined areas on the Turkish side of the border. At this point 1.15 million square meters have been cleared and released. 9 million square meters of land still remain to be cleared or released. With full access to all areas in the zone and full financial support it is estimated that all contaminated or suspected contaminated land can be released within 2 years.
The Vietnam Veterans Association of America and the Mines Advisory Group continued their Emergency Impact Survey activities, starting with the area of Gbadolite in the Equateur Province. However, a sudden deterioration of the security situation in Gbadolite forced the project to move its operational base to Gemena on 31 May, and continue activities from there. In the Northern Katanga district, DanChurchAid continued mine/ERW clearance operations. Their most remarkable success in the area remains the positive impact of their clearance operations on local activities in the towns of Kabalo and Nyunzu, and also completion of clearance of the road from Mitwaba to Manono.
Due to flight restrictions imposed by the Eritrean Government, the UNMEE MACC was forced to move most of its demining assets closer to the Ethiopian border, so that medivac could be conducted to Ethiopia. The remobilization has made it possible to continue demining up to normal speed.
The workplan for support of the demarcation process has now been finalized and the implementation of the plan is due to start late this summer. In order to render adequate demining support to the EEBC demarcation an increase in demining capacity and coordination capacity is necessary.
Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL)
The MACC SL is writing new standard operating procedures (SOPs) and developing a training plan for the Chinese Battalion recently deployed (April) within UNIFIL. The objective of this training requested by UNIFIL is to fully accredit the Chinese Battalion in accordance with National Technical Standards and Guidelines.
A review of Mine Action in Lebanon has been conducted by the GICHD during this period, so as to assess relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the Mine Action Programme in Lebanon. GICHD’s final report will be available in the coming weeks.
To reduce continued reliance on international donor funding, MACC SL launched a series of fund raising activities, including gala dinners and marathons. The fundraising gala dinner that was held on the April 4 in Beirut to commemorate the first International Day for "Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action" was able to raise $ 15,000 given directly to MAG to assist their ongoing mine/UXO clearance operations in Southern Lebanon. On June 4, an international marathon took place in Tyre (where the MACC SL is located) under the theme "Run for Lebanon Free of Mines".
The Programme has seen some remarkable achievements during the reporting period.
A Rapid Response Survey Team from FSD, in close cooperation and support from UNMAO Mine Information Office in El Fasher, has completed verification of all known dangerous area in North Darfur State, thereby turning this large area on the map from red to green. This milestone was achieved in just one year since the team was deployed to Darfur in April 2005. Now, the team is redeployed to continue the same exercise of verifying existing data and collecting new information along the routes and communities in South Darfur.
Route verification and clearance activities have already been hampered by early onset of rain. However, due to improved planning, the assets have been deployed full time. During this reporting period, the route verification and clearance assets have completed the tasks on Rokon-Mundri road (79.4 km) in South Sudan and Damazine- Kurmuk road (170km) in North Sudan. It is also worth mentioning that RONCO MDD and BAC assets, supported by mechanical capacity, have opened the 4.6 km of Line of Disengagement at Rokon to 8m width.
In Malakal, demining teams have worked to support both the Mission in terms of TCC site and Force riverine site clearance as well as humanitarian needs of demarcating minefields outside Malakal town. In the past weeks, the teams are conducting manual clearance to establish access lanes through minefields to ease the overcrowding of new returnees to the area building their houses in the minefield. This activity is complimented by a dedicate mine risk education team visiting surrounding communities to convey mine awareness messages.
The Programme has continued to assist and facilitate preparation and deployment of Military Demining Companies during the reporting season. Manual clearance teams and an EOD team from Egyptian Demining Company have continued to produce positive results in Julud despite adverse weather conditions. Bangladeshi Demining Company have recently started manual clearance operation in Juba, whereas Pakistani Demining Company have arrived in Sector V, ready to commence in-country refresher training in the first week of June. UNMAO is closely coordinating with Cambodian Demining Company’s in-country training which have commenced in Sector III on 22 May, for their demining, EOD and survey capacities.
The Programme is also actively involved in the monitoring of CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) implementation. In May, UNMAO has assisted SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) destruction of ammunitions in Wau (Sector II), in cooperation with Kenyan military contingents.
With the finalization of the grant agreement between UNMAS and Landmine Action, LMA is expected to deploy in July 2006. LMA will train local clearance personnel and work on the POLISARIO controlled areas, concentrating mainly on ERW, which litters extensive areas on both sides of the Berm. To date, UNMAS has financed the project out of unearmarked funding, but continues to look for dedicated resources that will ensure the completion of the project.
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 & CIS REGION
Bosnia and Herzegovina
V. LATIN AMERICA REGION
4th National Meeting on Mine Risk Education Methodologies
On 3 and 4 May, UNICEF provided technical and financial support to the Commission for De-mining and Humanitarian Assistance (CNIDAH), to implement the 4th National Meeting on Mine Risk Education Methodologies. The main objectives of this meeting were:
1. To introduce how to programme mine risk education (MRE) activities based on Land Mine Impact Survey (LIS) data;
2. To discuss and define differences between MRE in Emergency and MRE in Development;
3. To introduce a "Solution Based MRE Approach";
4. To analyse and evaluate the effectiveness of the MRE radio and TV programme;
5. To exchange the latest lessons learned by MRE field operators.
The meeting was attended by participants from all 18 provinces, including CNIDAH technical officers, local and international NGO MRE operators, CNIDAH liaison officers from all 18 provinces, national and international demining agencies, and MRE Training of Trainer officers from the Provincial Ministry of Education.
Beyond the five objectives, the purpose of this meeting was to introduce and discuss the change in MRE approach from emergency to development. During the war and after, for almost 10 years, MRE operators were informing and educating the local population about what mines and UXO are and what to do when people encounter mines. This approach of teaching MRE is considered an "emergency" approach. Due to their good work, now most of the local population (except returnees in some bordering provinces such as Uige, Zaire, Moxico, Lunda Sul and Kuando Kubango) have knowledge about what mines can do to them. MRE operators need to acknowledge this fact and need to change the approach to MRE, then move on to a different MRE approach that identifies the problems each community faces and offers tailor-made solutions or MRE messages according to the target groups such as hunters, farmers, and fire wood collectors. Development-based MRE will thus address the issues that most affect these groups in performing their activities. This new approach is called the development approach to MRE or "Solution based MRE."
The participants expressed that this workshop was one of the most successful meetings they had on MRE, because almost everyone spoke up and there were very lively discussions. At the same time, the participants expressed two days were only enough to understand the concept of the development approach. MRE operators requested further training on how to implement the solution-based approach for MRE with more concrete example and case studies. Due to this, both UNICEF and the ICRC decided to support CNIDAH to organise follow up meetings on this new methodology. Funds from the Government of Canada made this event possible.
Training for Journalists: Reporting on Children
It is extremely important to have a good and collaborative relationship with journalists. If journalists can write powerful stories and messages based on the truth, it will be a strong MRE for public free of charge. Therefore, UNICEF supported training workshops for journalists on reporting on children. The two workshops (8-10 May for journalists in Luanda) and (11- 13 May for journalists from provinces) were a great success. The training was facilitated by two journalists from Reuters Foundation. Some 50 journalists from Luanda and the provinces received intensive and in-depth training in writing news stories about children and children's issues including MRE, Mine Victims, HIV/AIDS, abused children and others.
The comments of the participants in both groups were extremely positive about this UNICEF initiative and showed them to be eager for more such events in future. The three-day courses combined practical material prepared by the two facilitators from Reuters Foundation to analyze and improve their journalistic skills with in-depth information from well-informed experts about the situation on the ground and upcoming initiatives. The emphasis throughout was on the practical application rather than simple theory; the presentations themselves were also analyzed from a journalistic point of view and used as case studies on how to turn such events into news stories and achieve much-needed publicity for children's issues.
The 50 participants were united in feeling that these workshops need to be held more often so as to help raise the level of journalism in Angola and general awareness of what is being done and needs to be done to improve the lot of children. Canadian funding supported MRE contribution for this workshop.
UNICEF has provided 1,540 set of "Story Card" and 850 Jogo de Paz (they had some stock of Jogo de Paz from last distribution) for Handicap International (HI) in early May. Jogo de Paz were initially printed in 2003. They were re-printed in 2004 by Canadian fund. HI is conducting a Teacher Training in Huambo and Benguela Province. Hi said estimated number of 35,000 children in these provinces will benefit from MRE session utilizing these MRE materials.
UNICEF has re-printed 50,000 posters to teach people where most mines are located. UNICEF started to distribute these posters to government organizations, schools, and NGOs.
Strengthening the capacity of national NGOs
UNICEF continues to support NGOs to implement field based MRE in provinces. The Italian NGOs Intersos, together with local NGOs Acadir and Club de Jovens are implementing MRE programs in Kuwando Kubango located in the south.
Based on the 4th MRE National Methodology Workshop in early May and the MRE Technical Working Group organised by CNIDAH on 5-7 June, UNICEF and local NGOs worked together and finalised the next 6-months project proposals. The three NGOs including Palanca Negra in Malange, Secut Bagos in Uige, and Club de Jovens in Huila will start their 6-month projects in early June. Other NGOs are still finalising the projects to start in either Mid June or July.
UNICEF is one of the major actors in conducting MRE activities in Armenia, with the support of its international and national partners. Twenty-eight out of the 60 affected communities are reached by UNICEF current projects, which will be completed by the end of June 2006.
Programme photography exhibitions on Mine Risk Awareness have been held in 28 high and medium impact communities of Armenia. During the exhibitions, German Avagyan, the photographer, presented the photos of children affected by mines and explained to schoolchildren about dangerous and devastating impact of mines and how to be protected from them. The children were listening to German's stories and they were deeply touched by them, as among these children they recognised their own friends.
German Avagyan has already made shots of 50 children affected by mines. As he says," There are a lot of villages affected by mines in Armenia, where children are not informed about the danger of mines and because of this unawareness they can't tell the mine from the toy. As a result all these children can become victims of a new blow. Thus, it is of vital importance to inform these children about this issue so that they recognize these mines when they come close to them".
Two guidebooks on MRE: a teachers’ guidebook and a trainers’ guidebook were developed and pilot tested in 10 communities. Currently the guidebooks are being revised based on the feedback from the field and will be ready for printing at the end of June. To accelerate the already started MRE classes and activities we are looking for funding are needed:
Bosnia and Herzegovina
UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) continues to provide technical, financial and logistical support to the BiH Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) and to implementing agencies involved in MRE and Landmine Victim Assistance (LMVA).
During the period April - June, the BHMAC in cooperation with UNICEF, finalised the drafts of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Planning of MRE activities in affected communities and SOPs for Integrated Planning of Mine Action in affected communities. As well, regulations and guidelines for accreditation of MRE organisations have been completed and an effort has been given towards finalising the SOP on MRE reporting.
In May, the BHMAC held the LMVA Implementation Board Meeting where the BHMAC information-technology (IT) department reported on progress in creating the new database on LMVA. The new questionnaire for collecting data on mine victims was adopted and the obligations of LMVA organisations in creating the LMVA database were defined.
In June, the BHMAC finalised the MRE Report for the period of January-May 2006. The report will be presented at the Board of Donors, which will be held at the end of June. 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 Data base. The BHMAC provided assistance to local mine action NGOs with analyses, recommendations and technical expertise on the MRE and LMVA project implementation and proposals.
In April, UNICEF’s local NGO partner Genesis finalised a project on landmine and SALW risk education, training of teachers and peer educators that was treated as an environment related issue. The project was implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and with support provided by UNICEF. The project resulted in the implementation of 53 live interactive educational puppet shows, targeting 4,807 children, 80 workshops with 250 peer-educators conducted in 10 primary schools and five training sessions held for 40 school teachers on self-sustainable education.
In this period, as part of regular monitoring activities, Genesis representatives visited local primary schools which were included in their 2004/2005 MRE projects. As a result of long lasting and successful cooperation, several major TV stations throughout BiH, re-started the broadcast of the UNICEF and Genesis MRE TV shows that had been developed in 2004.
The NGO AMI, (Anti-Mine Initiative), supported by UNICEF, proceeded with the implementation of a project cooperation agreement aiming at the development of eight MRE plans in high impacted communities, as well as the development and implementation of one municipal MRE plan and urgent marking in two priority locations of BiH municipalities, followed with basic MRE sessions. By mid June, AMI had developed six community-based MRE plans in cooperation with local stakeholders, using information collected through interviews, questionnaires, workshops and information collected from authorized institutions. Through this process the needs related to mine problems of the certain community were identified and elaborated in the community MRE plans. Finalised plans were presented and approved by municipal Civil Protection Departments, presidents of local communities, the BHMAC and Entity Army de-mining teams.
In June, the NGO AMI, in cooperation with local Civil Protection and BHMAC representatives, started the implementation of urgent marking in two BiH municipalities.
From 22 to 26 May, Handicap International organised a seminar for MRE organisations operating in BiH. Main topics of the seminar where, urgent marking, preparations for accreditation of MRE organisations and sharing of experiences.
The UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Programme is currently supported by contributions from DfID and the UNICEF national committees of Ireland and Austria. The focus of the programme on local capacity building for integrated mine action requires long term planning and multi annual funding. The current financial situation of the programme is of serious concern as no funding is available for 2006. UNICEF Bosnia and Herzegovina urgently requires 500,000 USD for 2006.
The total mine/UXO casualties reported from January to April 2006 reached 197. This figure shows a decrease of 281 (59%) casualties compared with the same period in 2005. Out of the 197, 122 (62%) were caused by UXO and 75 (38%) by mines. Among the 197, 71 (36%) casualties were children under 18 years old.
In addition, during the four months of 2006, only 197 mine/UXO incidents occurred, which in the same period of 2005, CMVIS reported 297 incidents. The main reasons for the decrease could be described as follows:
1. Because the raining season started early in 2006 causing difficulty for people to go out to collect food in forest and looking for scrap metal.
2. Local police in the affected communities have been trained to deal with scrap metal collectors.
3. Multiple skills training has been provided to MRE operators, as a result, they can respond to any item reported by communities within hours, which in the past they had to report to mine action operators, and most of the time it took more than one week before they could actually respond.
4. CMVIS data gathering teams have also been trained to deliver MRE messages in the areas where accidents occurred and report items identified by communities to mine action operators.
UNICEF continues to provided technical, financial and logistical support to the Antipersonnel Landmines Observatory and to implementing agencies involved in MRE and Landmine Victim Assistance (LMVA) focusing on the development of activities as outlined in the national mine action plan 2004-2009.
UNICEF continues to support the decentralisation process and the 18 departmental committees for mine action already established and advocates for the development of the further 11 remaining to complete the process of decentralization. Each of the 18 departmental committees has established its own action plans and budgets and UNICEF has provided technical assistance in both the design and implementation of the localised plans, through ongoing advocacy, MRE and Attention to Victims, participating in meetings, sharing methodologies and materials for project activities. Funding has been provided for institutional capacity building activities for the departments of Antioquia and Cauca (through agreements with the departmental governments.
Communications and advocacy activities with the National Landmines Observatory continued to gain momentum this quarter, with two major fundraising events undertaken with significant results for the country programme: the appearance of the Colombian artist Juanes at the European Union, which resulted in a donation of EU 2.5 for Colombia; and a benefit concert in Los Angeles, the funds of which will be directed towards the provision of assistance for mine victims. This month also saw the inauguration of the University Hospital of Valle, by the Vice President of the Republic, with special guests including Juanes and the UNICEF Representative. The hospital was rehabilitated in order to provide medical and integral rehabilitation services for mine victims (although not exclusively) from 10 departments.
The national standards for MRE were developed and have been shared with implementing partners. It has been identified that it is necessary to develop practical training exercises for mine action and other partners in order to broaden the reach of direct activities for communities. UNICEF intends to develop curricula and training programmes based on the Best Practice Guidelines in the later part of 2006. A pilot project for teacher training is currently being developed for the department of Antioquia with a range of partners, led by UNICEF. It is a first experience to trial the newly developed set of materials for use in schools, which includes an agenda for teachers, activity and notebook for children.
UNICEF continues to support the national NGO Paz y Democracia and its work across 15 municipalities of Antioquia and a further 15 in Montes de Maria (Sucre and Bolivar) and in 6 municipalities of Magdalena Medio with communities, public workers, health and other community institutions. Included in the sessions were: general awareness of generic mine action issues and more specifically MRE. In June UNICEF, provided MRE training to the Mobile Teams of the National Institute of Family Well-being prior to their deployment to the areas of Alto Atrato in Chocó, a priority area for humanitarian intervention as identified by the UN system, given its strategic placement within the zone of conflict and resulting landmine contamination and population displacement.
Through a cooperation agreement with COSUDE, the Swiss Development Corporation and the National Landmines Observatory, UNICEF is supporting two institutions, CIREC (Centre for Integral Rehabilitation in Colombia) and Handicap International Belgium in the Departments of Bolivar, Sucre, and Antioquia to provide integral physical and psychosocial rehabilitation for a total of 265 people with disabilities, including 65 mine victims identified to date.
UNICEF created an alliance with the Vice Presidency of the Republic for the Day of Change Campaign and schools nationwide. The campaign’s aim was to raise awareness of the issue of landmines and UXO in urban schools of a high stratum. By subscribing to the Day of Change, school children contributed to raising awareness of landmines by purchasing an educational kit (containing 2 notebooks with the image of Juanes and a UNICEF gift card). One of the notebooks was for the child purchasing the kit and the other to be sent as a donation to a child studying in a municipality affected by landmines. The child also sent the gift card with a message of friendship and solidarity. A total of 92,004 children from 127 schools participated, also developing artistic and other events related to mine awareness throughout the course of the programme. In addition to creating awareness of the subject matter amongst children and adolescents, the programme raised a total of $60,000 and supported the purchase of 600,000 notebooks to be distributed to schools in 64 priority municipalities as part of the national plan for MRE.
The UNICEF Colombia Mine Action Programme is currently supported by contributions from the Government of Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and DFID. The current financial situation of the programme is of serious concern, as no funding is available for 2006.
In collaboration and cooperation with: the National Mine Action Authority (NMAA), the Regional Mine Action Centre (RMAC), the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Centre (IKMAC), other members of the UN Mine action Team and national and international NGOs, UNICEF is continuing its technical and financial support for national efforts on mine action through institutional capacity building in MRE, direct MRE in schools, communities and in high risk populations. Further support is being provided to initiate a victim surveillance and victim assistance system.
May to June:
1. MRE in schools project started:
In cooperation with the NMAA and the Ministry of Education, training for 2,000 teachers is being implemented by INTERSOS in three governorates of Southern and Central Iraq. This project will reach 300,000 children from primary and secondary schools.
2. MRE material Review in process:
As a follow up to recommendations from the workshop on "Communicating MRE" held on 12-14 March, UNICEF is reviewing the existing MRE materials currently being used. This review will analyse the gaps in existing MRE materials and will develop an appropriate package of MRE materials targeting the most affected populations and aiming to behaviour change.
3. Periodic coordination of MRE and mine action actors takes off:
As a follow-up to the MRE Coordination Meeting (February 2006), the periodic coordination meeting in the South and North of Iraq has been ongoing. The Regional Mine Action Centre in the south and the Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Centre and the General Directorate of Mine Action in the north have been able to organise monthly coordination meetings and discuss issues, problems, challenges not only related to MRE but also other pillars of mine action.
4. Inter-agency Technical Committee for Victim Surveillance and victim assistance formed:
In order to establish a systematic and reliable victim surveillance (VS) system and a comprehensive victim assistance (VA) programme in Iraq, UNICEF, with the cooperation of WHO, the ICRC, UNDP and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC, Atlanta) formed an Inter-Agency Technical Team. A workshop is planned in late August this year to discuss the issues of policies, strategies, and legislation with decision makers and to develop a strategy for VS and VA accordingly. Preparations are already under way.
Way Ahead and funding requirements:
Expand MRE in south and central Iraq:
Many contaminated governorates in the south and centre are not yet covered by the MRE project and people are under a continuous threat of mines and UXO. The LIS has finished surveys in 10 out of 15 southern-central governorates. MRE to high-risk populations, children, farmers, herders, public awareness campaigns, and MRE in school programmes in these governorates are in urgent need. UNICEF is exploring possibilities of cooperation with partners like Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and the Danish Demining Group.
Strengthen institutional and national capacity on MRE:
The National Mine Action Authority and regional centres are functioning with basic capacity however, national NGOs willing to support mine action in Iraq have very little knowledge/capacity in mine action. In the current situation of violence, national NGOs can play a very instrumental role for MRE and reaching populations at high risk.
Support national victim surveillance system and victim assistance:
In order to establish a functioning national victim surveillance system, UNICEF has played a key role bringing together all stakeholders, adopting a set of core questions, and initiating a strategy development process and plan of action. Funding is required for supporting the national surveillance system, implementation of the strategy and plan of action.
At the end of April, UNICEF, Handicap International-Belgium, with support from Dfid, launched the dissemination of an assessment report entitled "Victim and Survivor Assistance Study". This 60-page report details findings and recommendations for the area of survivor assistance and will be used as a guiding document for future development in this area. Copies can obtained by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org
The UNICEF Child Protection Section in Lao PDR has also contracted MAG to conduct a UXO risk assessment study. The study will take three months and will involve data gatherers from the Lao Youth Union, as well as a qualified team of international and national researchers. Findings will be presented to stakeholders near the end of September. Findings will be used to inform MRE strategy development, as well as the development of new messages for at-risk populations, especially children who are attracted to scrap metal collection, in close collaboration with the recently established UXO National Regulatory Authority (NRA).
The purpose of the assessment is to systematically collect and analyse information in order to identify who is at risk of UXO accidents, why, and what can be done about it. The UXO Needs Assessment will provide a unique opportunity to keep risks at a minimum and assist the government to take the next strategic steps for improving the knowledge base now in order to develop appropriate messages and responses to more effectively target areas and people. Questionnaires, focus group discussions, as well as key interviews will be used as part of the methodology.
MAG has proposed a public health approach paradigm based on ecological models of health and injury prevention and innovative data collection tools, which will not require participants to read and write. This is extremely important in a country such as Laos with 49 official ethnic groups.
The upcoming months will include preparation for training in MRE, as well as legal treaties relevant to the sector, in collaboration with the Community Awareness Technical Working Group of the NRA, as well as continued work with results from the UXO risk assessment. As UNICEF gears up to support collaboration with the UXO NRA, the office is trying to source new funding to expand support in this area.
Mine-Risk Education Working Group
During these two months, two meetings were held by the MRE Working Group, a network of 12 organisations coordinated by UNICEF. The Working Group on 'Terminology and Definition', with the participation of the ICRC and seven NGOs, reported back that there were no commonly used Nepali equivalents for the following key concepts: victim-activated, command-detonated, command wire, tripwire, booby trap, UXO, or abandoned ordnance. Further, several Nepali terms in common use did not have clear definitions. For example, barudi surung, literally meant "tunnel bomb". This was used for any explosive device, which was buried or laid on or under the ground. It described roadside bombs, and particularly pipe bombs, bucket bombs, etc., buried or inserted under the blacktop. It was usually translated as landmine, but did not distinguish between bombs that were victim-activated (factory-made landmines) and command-detonated devices activated by remote control, either through command wires or time delay. Another example was bidduthia dharap, literally "electric trap" or "electric ambush". This referred to bombs activated by an electric current, either through a command wire and switch, a time delay device (alarm clock or wristwatch) or a remote signal (pager or mobile phone). The term sometimes appeared in the English press in literal translation as "electric trap" (implying command-detonated). However, particularly in the case of roadside bombs, it is also translated as "landmine", implying victim-activated to foreign readers, but not to Nepalis, for whom the distinction was moot.
The UN Landmine Safety Project course, which was adapted for Nepal conditions in early 2006, has been fully translated into Nepali and was field tested in June in the conflict-affected Mid- and Far-West Regions. Further revision of the Nepali text is expected at the completion of these missions. The course has been run for UN, DfID, GTZ and NGO staff, as well as for government officials and field workers in remote districts. The UNICEF "Meena" booklet on accident prevention for children, which has an MRE component, and the UN safety brochure and the safety posters have also been also distributed to the participants in these courses for further dissemination in their home districts and towns. Some 58,000 copies of the Meena booklet have been printed, thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, of which 21,000 are being used by the ICRC as part of its MRE outreach work.
Training courses continued for members of the Federation of Nepali Journalists on the ethical reporting of children, particularly those affected by armed conflict. The courses, funded by the Government of Canada, include a major MRE component. The aim is to generate more accurate and more sensitive reporting on incidents involving children and their families. The courses are in partnership with UNICEF and the International Federation of Journalists.
The staff of the UNICEF-supported radio programme for young people called, "Chatting with My Best Friend" (Sathi Sanga Manka Kura or SSMK), reported back to the Working Group on two focus group discussion sessions in Ilam in the east and Solukhumbu (the mountainous eastern district where Mount Everest is located). Results were more encouraging than the previous focus group discussion research in the west, where participants had advocated using kerosene or dust to deal with traumatic wounds. Respondents in Ilam and Solukhumbu advocated tying cloth and using local herbs to stop the bleeding. There was a marked division between young people from towns who generally had much less knowledge about or experience of explosive devices than young people in rural areas. The research from the focus-group discussions is being used to develop a series of radio spots and dramas targeting young people on the dangers of mines and explosive devices.
Save the Children Norway reported on a sensitization programme on psychosocial problems, which it conducted with partners in Tansen in Palpa District, in the Western Region after a major clash on 31 January. Students and teachers shared common responses including deafness following explosions during the attack, fear of darkness, loss of appetite, difficulty in concentration and studying, fear of staying alone, desire to be with parents, and continual feelings of unease.
Some 22 severe cases were identified. Following the sensitisation programme, the recipients reported a decrease of fear and disturbance, an increase of coping capacity, normalisation of daily life and an awareness of explosive devices.
The ICRC reported that the Nepali version of the UN Landmine Safety Project module was given to 27 staff/members from District Chapters of the Nepal Red Cross Society during a Safer Access Training organised by ICRC/NRCS in May. The participants had seemed surprised to learn that socket bombs and other IEDs were used so often in Nepal and were so risky. They were also unaware that the security-force positions could be dangerous. Overall, the participants found the information to be useful and relevant in the given conflict situation. Some asked for a copy of the presentation so that they could present it to their fellow staff/members in their districts.
After the Sindhupalchowk attack, the ICRC organised from 10 May the distribution of 200 posters (UN: Don't Touch and Be Aware) in and around the main streets of Chautara (the district HQ), on the walls of shops, schools, and near the incident sites. Also, at the initiation of the Nepal Red Cross Society volunteers, a simple message of 'don't go, don't approach unknown/suspicious objects' was disseminated in a scrolling advertisement on the TV through the local cable operator.
ICRC staff also gave a 10-minute interview on 27 May on the radio programme SSMK on Proper Safety Behaviour concerning EDs (DOs and DON’Ts about explosive devices).
On June 1, the Informal Sector Service Centre, INSEC, began its upgraded surveillance of civilian casualties of IED/UXO/mine explosions in Nepal in all 75 districts. The aim is to locate, investigate and report about every civilian casualty of accidental explosion nationwide. INSEC also refers the survivors to Victim Assistance Agencies, whenever possible.
INSEC field work has confirmed that, even though some services are provided free of charge in some government hospitals, explosion survivors usually have to pay for their evacuation to the medical facility and for medicine. As of today, many civilian survivors cannot afford ambulance transport to medical facilities, medical treatment and related medicines. Due to the lack of adequate treatment, they may eventually die or be permanently disabled.
INSEC reports that in a recent case where two children were injured in an accidental explosion, local authorities informed the parents that they would have to meet the Chief District Officer, get an official letter from him confirming the casualties as 'victims of conflict', bring this letter to the Home Ministry in Kathmandu, then wait for the approval of their case to eventually receive 5.000 Rupees (75$). The cost of medical treatment was estimated by the hospital as twice that amount.
INSEC would like to highlight the urgent need to improve medical assistance to civilian victims of explosions, so that emergency services (evacuation, treatment, surgery and medicine) are provided in a timely manner and free of charge for these forgotten victims of the conflict.
The organization ‘Child Workers in Nepal’ (CWIN-Nepal) has been conducting various awareness programmes with some emergency support. CWIN went to visit the incident place that happened in Damauli. They facilitated the treatment of injured children and held an informal session with teachers and villagers from the incident site on mine/IED safety.
CWIN has conducted a session on Mine/IED safety with members of District Child Welfare Board (DCWB) and NGO representatives of Sunsari. Similarly, members of DCWBs of Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Kavre and Dolakha were also provided with a mine/IED safety session.
CWIN has also conducted awareness sessions on mine/IED safety among members of DCWB, District Women Development Officer, NGO representatives and District Program Officer of DCWB of 25 districts. It has disseminated posters on MRE to different districts of CWIN working areas, and has been conducting various interaction programs with different stakeholders regarding mine/IED safety.
CWIN organised an interaction programme on "Remains of War and Children: Role of stakeholder for the protection of children". The Deputy Prime Minister, the Representative from the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) (Maoist) and the Spokesperson of Office for the High Commission on Human Rights were key speakers. The protection of children from mine/IEDs was one of the major issues that were discussed. CWIN handed a letter to the Prime Minister and the chairperson of the CPN (Maoist) to address the issue of mine/IED safety with other issues as an outcome of the interaction.
CWIN has been taking this issue of mine/IED safety in all its activities as a cross cutting issue.
Activities related to landmines and UXO have been a part of integrated activities of the members of the National Coalition for Children as Zones of Peace (National Coalition for CZOP) since it was launched in 2003. The Coalition met in May and discussed its concern that there would be a high risk to children from mines, IEDs and UXO in the first few months of the ceasefire. It has submitted a memorandum to the government, which listed mines/explosives as a priority issue. It has organised a series of meetings with the Ministry of Home and Peace Secretariat to follow-up on the demands and to plan for further actions. It has also met with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and handed over its memorandum.
Russia (UNICEF North Caucasus Mine Action Programme)
Mine Risk Education (MRE)
During the reporting period, the UNICEF Child Protection/Mine Action team continued to oversee its ongoing programme through monitoring missions to Chechnya. In particular, visits were conducted to the Republican Clinical Hospital in Grozny, to the vocational training project implemented by the Society for the Disabled, as well as to a leisure centre for children located in school number 44 in Grozny.
Despite the fact that the number of mine/UXO-related casualties in Chechnya has been significantly decreasing over the last three years, the total number of incidents recorded thus far in 2006 (January-May) has remained at the same level recorded in 2005. On the other hand, the number of victims killed has been significantly lower (two in 2006 versus eight in 2005). A thorough analysis of the data indicated that most of the new incidents are due to the socio-economic needs of the population living in the mine/UXO-affected areas.
In the framework of the UNICEF-supported activities that are aimed at decreasing the impact of the mine/UXO threat on the lives of civilians in Chechnya, UNICEF – with financial support from USAID – established eight new leisure centers for children living in Vinogradnoe, Oktyabrskoe, Makhketie, Gvardeiskoe, Mairtup and Gudermes. These centres, equipped with music instruments, computers, TV, karaoke and different table games, provide a safe playing environment for children.
UNICEF continued to further support, through its local implementing partners, its MRE programme for the general population of Chechnya. MRE presentations were delivered by Voice of the Mountains (UNICEF’s key NGO partner) to schoolchildren living in Gudermesskiy, Achkhoy-Martanovskiy, Urus-Martanovskiy, Shalinskiy and Grozny districts. A competition for the best drawings made by schoolchildren on the theme: "A mine/UXO-safe Chechnya", has been organised by VoM with the participation of children from the above-mentioned schools. Twenty drawings were selected and displayed during the celebrations for the International Children’s Day in Achkhoy-Martan (1 June). In addition, the drawings will also be used for the forthcoming production by UNICEF, with support from ECHO, of new MRE materials.
Assistance to mine/UXO survivors
Within the framework of UNICEF’s assistance programme for children with disabilities (including mine/UXO survivors), some 15 children were provided with treatment at the physiotherapy ward of the Republican Clinical Hospital in Grozny. The same group of children, with their primary caregivers, also received psychosocial support at the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Centre in Grozny, which is run by UNICEF through its local implementing partner "Let’s Save the Generation". Both programmes are implemented with financial support from the German Government. A total of 29 children are currently being treated at the Rehabilitation Centre. A variety of therapies – including group and individual counseling, drama and music therapies, labour and play therapies – are being applied and contribute to the psycho-physical improvement of the children’s condition. Meanwhile, vocational training in tailoring and computer skills has been further supported by UNICEF for 60 mine/UXO-affected children living in Grozny, Achkhoy-Martan and Vedeno, with financial support from USAID.
Major events over this period included the publication of the Rapid Mine Impact Survey and its sharing with Government and partners at regional and national levels at the end of April. The Survey, undertaken by Handicap and UNDP, concluded that 93 localities (2.7% of the total areas) and 90,700 people (7.1% of the total population) are affected by mines in Casamance. Mines have a high level of socio-economic impact on 8% of the affected areas, and a medium level of impact on 45% of the affected areas.
The office continued to work on follow up recommendations from the December 2005 evaluation, in particular to develop more focused and targeted interventions and the participatory development of strategic communication plans.
In late March, with the support of a UNICEF expert from Bosnia and Herzegovina, partners were trained in the use of a simple methodology (based also on the guide developed in Cambodia, adapted for local use) to assess the situation at the community level and to identify local solutions. In May and June, partners held a series of focus groups in six of the most affected communities to identify highly impacted zones, at-risk groups and behaviors. Those discussions revealed at-risk groups not previously known or targeted, (especially people coming from outside of the community), key influencers for risk behaviours and groups keeping a high level of risk behaviours (mostly children and people from very poor settings).
Based on this analysis, key partners met from 10-14 June and developed a strategic communications plan, integrating advocacy, social mobilisation and communication for change activities. MRE Partners agreed to continue the participatory process in most affected communities to assess local situations and identify local solutions. In order to reinforce this process, capacities of local radios and local volunteers will be strengthened and messages will be developed and disseminated through intensive communication and education activities.
The next steps will be to share plans with all local radios and communicators and to support audio material development. The community process will be pursued in order to develop local MRE plans, associating local authorities. Training of volunteers is also planned. Advocacy activities will continue and a coordinating group has been set up to monitor the plan. The collaboration with the organization "Association of Mines Victims" will be strengthened under the principles of the Greater Involvement of People Affected (GIPA) philosophy.
In Sri Lanka, violence is escalating every day and especially in the North East province. Civilians are now under a new threat: Command detonated road-side bombs (claymore mines) aiming military targets are not any more discriminate as many civilians by passers have been killed and injured by the deadly weapons. UXO are also becoming a concern as new devices have appeared after the regular rounds of shelling in particular villages.
UNICEF is now working with its network of partners to respond to the new emergency context in developing appropriate response to the crisis. For example, an MRE assessment was conducted following the displacement of 30,000 people caused by ethnic tensions and shelling in Trincomalee district. Building on the network of MRE children clubs developed in recent years, UNICEF’s MRE partners have created ‘’ Children’s corners’’ in IDPs welfare centres. Under the UNICEF plastic sheet roof, ‘’the corner’’ is manned by MRE youth animators previously trained during the last four years. They act as information focal points to collect basic information on new UXO found by the public. Through their participation to the emergency response, the youths feel empowered. This set up is regularly monitored by the salaried MRE field officers who are also in contact with MRE volunteers living in areas inaccessible because of the conflict. The development of an efficient reporting network using already trained persons is becoming more and more a priority.
The MRE sector supported by UNICEF, with funding from the European Commission and the Government of Upper Austria, is reviewing its strategy to better target new at-risk audiences like the IDPs and the humanitarian workers. While UNICEF is conducting a series of MRE safety trainings for UN and NGOs staff, an arrangement was developed with the International NGO Red and R to integrate the 2 hours MRE training package developed by UNMAS into their 1 day security training for local and NGOs.
To tackle the problem, UNICEF zone offices are also developing regional links. From both sides of the borders between government controlled areas and LTTE controlled areas; temporary smaller size MRE centers have been set up to reach the IDPs. An MRE emergency plan was developed during a workshop with all UNICEF MRE partners to elaborate the strategy.
Below are pictures of an "MRE children corner"
UNICEF continued its lead role for MRE within the framework of the UN Mine Action Office for Sudan (UNMAO). A significant increase and improvement was achieved with regard to MRE in the country since beginning of 2006. At present a total of 38 MRE teams from nine different national and international organisations operate across the country targeting at-risk populations with a prime focus on IDPs, refugee and returnees. As of the end of May, over 200,000 individuals had participated in MRE sessions since the beginning of the year. In addition, over 400 new teachers and/or social workers had participated in Training of Trainers’ courses on MRE and received materials to use with children or other at risk groups. A network of some 150 community-based volunteers, established in affected communities, also continued to deliver MRE to locals and fresh returnees to their areas of responsibilities, alongside continuing to report on any new dangerous areas/munitions to the mine action agencies.
UNICEF, through the UNMAO structure, coordinated the MRE activities of all partners and provided technical advice and training to them with a particular focus on local agencies. In addition to organising regular MRE coordination meetings at the national and regional levels, UNICEF organised and conducted at least three training courses for different partner agencies on planning and implementation of MRE activities. As part of its technical support to partners, UNICEF organised an MRE Tools and Communication Workshop in Juba, southern Sudan in early May where 26 people representing 12 different agencies participated. During this workshop, existing MRE tools and materials were reviewed by the participants, gaps were identified and plans for development of new tools/materials were made. Based on outcomes of the workshop, the programme will be designing and developing a number of new materials and tools to enhance MRE effectiveness in the country.
For the period February to May, UNICEF supported the MRE, capacity building and coordination in Mine Action in the following areas:
Development of MRE programs through mass media and IEC materials
At the national level, UNICEF a supported review of mass media products. As a result, all of its counterparts were able to share experiences and get a consensus on the common principles in development of mass media products. At the local level, people from different ethnic groups in affected areas of three provinces including Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue have learned about mine risks and preventive measures through MRE messages broadcasted on either radio or television in both national and ethnic languages and posters. At the same time, a number of children in Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces have learned about mine risks and preventive measures through story books illustrations.
Community and school based MRE
UNICEF continues to support community-based MRE activities, which use the form of child to child education through artistic performances with MRE messages and creation of space for children to play and learn about UXO/mine risks and preventative measures such as week-end play-ground, quiz, camping events. These activities reached both adults and children in affected areas of six provinces including Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An and Ha Tinh. In addition, UNICEF supported the expansion of mainstreaming MRE into primary school education in Quang Tri province by providing training to all primary schools managers and satellite trainers throughout the provinces.
Capacity building and coordination
Representatives of UNICEF counterparts have improved their knowledge and skills through a training course in project design, planning and monitoring. At the provincial level, different training courses in MRE and project planning have been organised for UNICEF counterparts at provincial and district levels.