UNICEF praises Afghanistan for accepting treaty on
Commitment to Ottawa Treaty is A Big Step Forward
For Heavily-Mined Country
NEW YORK, 29 July 2002 - UNICEF hailed the Government
of Afghanistan for deciding today to accede to the Ottawa
Convention banning land mines.
"Afghanistan is one of the most heavily-mined
countries in the world, so to commit to this important
treaty is a huge step forward," said UNICEF Executive
Director Carol Bellamy. "For the Afghan national
authorities to have taken this step so quickly sends a
powerful message that the battle against land mines must
not be delayed and requires commitment at the highest
Bellamy noted that the human cost of mines and unexploded
ordnance is especially high for children, whose natural
curiosity and need for play space draws them to areas
where mines and UXOs pose a threat. She noted that:
- Afghanistan contains about 10 per cent of the 60-70
million landmines laid world-wide;
- Close to 5 per cent of households across Afghanistan
have at least one person who has been affected by a
landmine or UXO injury;
- Children are the most vulnerable victims, affected
while playing, tending animals, or collecting firewood.
Children represent half of all injuries and deaths from
landmines in Afghanistan;
- Growing numbers of returning populations are also
at risk as they resettle across the country.
UNICEF said it has been working with the Afghan administration
to integrate landmine awareness education into the new
school curriculum. UNICEF is currently supporting a quick-impact
mine awareness campaign targeting 3,800 schools nationwide.
The campaign offers both direct mine awareness sessions
and training for teachers to give them the skills needed
to conduct mine awareness education themselves.
(UNICEF has been a leader in supporting the reopening
of schools, training teachers, and providing learning
materials for children and teaching materials for classrooms.)
The Mine Ban Treaty aims to not only prevent mine production
and use, but to address existing mine problems and to
assist mine-affected countries and victims of mines.
"We see Afghanistan's acceptance as a huge step
forward for a country that has suffered so long from conflict,"
Bellamy said. "Today's decision is a clear commitment
to turning the page on that chapter of history, and to
'building a peaceful future' - the theme of the mine ban
workshop currently underway in Kabul."