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UNICEF highlights risks for children in the aftermath of explosion

Maputo, 23 March 2007 – The UN Children’s Fund expressed concern today over the potential threat caused by unexploded munitions in the vicinity of the ammunition depot which exploded in the outskirts of the capital Maputo on Thursday.

The blasts sent artillery and mortar shells flying over nearby residential neighborhoods destroying several houses, resulting in the death of over 90 people and injuring more than 300 according to latest government figures.

“This has been a traumatic experience for many children, said the Head of UNICEF in Mozambique Leila Pakkala. “The psychological and emotional impact will not only affect the children who have lost relatives and friends but also those who have witnessed the damage caused by the explosion.”

UNICEF is supporting government authorities and non-governmental partners to reunite separated children with their relatives and provide psychosocial support to children who may have suffered trauma.

Another priority over the next few days will be to rapidly launch public-awareness campaigns to inform about the potential dangers from unexploded ordnance.

Pakkala said that children are particularly vulnerable as curiosity may attract them to play with these objects.

“Previous experience in similar situations has shown that children are particularly at risk of getting injured while inadvertently playing with unexploded shells and mortars.”

The distribution of posters and leaflets, as well as radio and public-service announcements, to inform people against unexploded munitions will be crucial to avoid further injury and loss of life in the affected areas.

For more information, please contact:

Thierry Delvigne-Jean, Office Tel: +258 21 481-100; Direct line: +258 21 481-121; Mobile: +258 82 312-1820; Email: tdelvignejean@unicef.org

 

 
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