International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine ActionGENEVA, 3 April 2009 – Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to pose an enormous threat to children worldwide, UNICEF noted today in the lead up to the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April.
Children - particularly boys - are most likely to be harmed and account for over 30 per cent of all victims of landmines and ERW, which they often mistake for toys.
Approximately 60 per cent of ERW casualties in 2007 were children - some 49 per cent were boys, with girls making up around 12 per cent of the victims.
Injuries can include loss of arms and legs, sight or hearing and often cause lifelong disabilities that mean victims require urgent care and long-term support. However, in some countries where these injuries occur, the absence of medical care and rehabilitation capacity means children are unable to attend school and thus their prospects in life are limited.
When parents are killed or maimed by landmines, the lives of children are also severely affected. Childhood without one or both parents may be marred by inadequate nutrition or immunization, lack of protection from exploitation and abuse, or early withdrawal from school to supplement family income.
Uncleared landmines/ERW also interrupt the lives of whole communities. Accessing homes, schools, health and other social services, can become a challenge and when farmlands become mine fields, well-being and livelihoods of families are also damaged.
As of August 2008 – a decade after the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force – over 70 states are still believed to be affected by mines. Over 25 states are contaminated by unexploded cluster bombs and submunitions.
The elimination of landmines and ERW and improved capacities to meet the needs of victims and assist with their reintegration into societies are essential, if children in affected countries are to be able reach their full potential. This requires international and donor assistance to support countries and organizations working to reduce the damage caused by landmines and ERW.
UNICEF and Mine Action
UNICEF as a strong advocate against landmines and other indiscriminate weapons promotes the signing, ratification and implementation of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APMBT), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) and other related treaties. UNICEF has been working on mine action for the past 15 years supporting activities in some 35 countries providing technical and financial support to the development and implementation of mine action projects primarily Mine Risk Education. UNICEF also advocates for and with mine/ERW survivors and other people with disabilities – especially children under 18 - to ensure their voices are heard, rights respected, basic needs met, and that they are able to fully participate in their societies
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.