NEW YORK, April 4 2010 – UNICEF is marking the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (4 April) by calling for more decisive action to protect children and their families from the impact of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
“Far too many children are being killed and maimed as a consequence of these inhumane weapons,” said Hilde F. Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF.
“The international community has made great progress towards achieving the aim and objectives of the Mine Ban Treaty since its entry into force in 1999, but the job is still far from done. Many civilians still fall victim to these weapons every year, and many more are deprived the use of their land for such basic things as collecting water and firewood, planting crops or simply letting their children play. We need universal adoption and implementation of the treaty," Ms. Johnson added.
Everyday, civilians in dozens of countries around the world are injured and killed by landmines and other lethal explosive objects left over from conflicts, years after hostilities of war have ended.
In 2008, a total of 5,197 new casualties from mines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and victim activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were recorded. Although fewer casualties were registered in 2008 than in previous years, the number of mine/ERW survivors continued to increase.
Children – particularly boys – account for nearly 30 per cent of all victims of landmines, and especially ERW.
Although girls represent fewer reported casualties, they are affected. Female casualties are believed to be among the most under-reported groups. In some countries, disability is seen as a stigma that needs to be hidden, especially for girls. Many girl casualties are not reported, they do not receive medical or other care, and are considered a burden to their families.
Simply being a child, with a child’s natural curiosity and desire to play, touch, seek and explore, is risky in an environment contaminated by landmines and other explosives. Walking to school, herding livestock, fetching water, or collecting fruit or firewood can be matters of life and death.
A child who survives a mine blast will likely suffer permanent disability. Access to rehabilitation may not be available, and a child mine survivor may be deprived of schooling since the household does not have the money to pay for hospital and medical bills let alone the cost of education.
Increasingly, international disarmament, humanitarian and human rights conventions are recognizing the need to provide specialized attention to child survivors and other children with disabilities to ensure their full inclusion in society. Taken together, they provide a powerful framework to advocate for the rights of child survivors.
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.
For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Fordham, New York, Tel + 1 212 326 7162,