UNICEF and UNMAS Press Release
On International Mine Awareness Day, UNICEF and UNMAS call for an Iraq free of explosive ordnance
Over 519 children have been killed or maimed over the last five years in Iraq from explosive ordnance. UNICEF and UNMAS commend international efforts to put forward a political declaration to ensure the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Baghdad, 4 April 2022- No matter where they are used, explosive ordnance endanger a child's most fundamental rights. On International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, UNICEF and UNMAS call on governments to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA), and to speak out to protect children and civilians worldwide from the threat of explosive ordnance.
The creation of a stable and safe environment in Iraq continues to be undermined by the presence of explosive ordnance, particularly in residential and rural communities. Even though Iraq has not suffered from open conflicts in the last years, the effects of explosive weapons will reverberate for years to come. Landmines and unexploded or abandoned ordnance (so-called “remnants of war”) still cause death and injury across the country
For the last 5 years, 519 children have been killed or maimed in Iraq due to explosive ordnance. More than 80 per cent of children affected are boys. Boys are disproportionately impacted due to incidents of child labour, such as grazing animals or collecting scrap metal to sell. Children are particularly vulnerable, attracted to remnants for their colourful appearance and unaware of how dangerous they are. Some of these weapons are familiar household objects that have been turned into explosives.
UNICEF and UNMAS welcome the international efforts to put forward a political declaration to ensure the protection of civilians from harm arising from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
UNICEF and UNMAS continue to provide explosive ordnance risk education (EORE), and referrals to relevant services including medical treatment and psychosocial support when needed.
UNICEF and UNMAS urge all parties to accelerate every effort to clear existing mines and unexploded ordnance and promote victim assistance, and to uphold children’s right to a safe and protective environment.
UNICEF and UNMAS also urge the Government of Iraq and the donor community to support the scale-up and provision of EORE activities so that children and other community members receive life-saving messages in schools and communities in all areas previously affected by conflict in Iraq.
Established in 1997, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) works to eliminate the threat posed by mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices by coordinating United Nations mine action, leading operational responses at the country level, and in support of peace operations, as well as through the development of standards, policies and norms.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.