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Child protection from violence, exploitation and abuse

Landmines and explosive weapons

© UNICEF/NYHQ2004-0764/Dan Thomas
Official markers warning of the presence of landmines or other UXO are posted in a village near the home of a woman and her toddler child, in the village of O Chheukram near the western town of Pailin. This area, near the border with Thailand, is one of the most heavily mined in the world.

Landmines, cluster munitions and all other explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to kill and maim children throughout the world.  Whatever their initial military purpose, explosive remnants often result in civilian casualties even years after conflict has left an area, and they deprive children and their families of access to much needed land, schools, water points, religious buildings, play areas, and other sites necessary to their well-being. Children are more prone to injury from landmines and ERW because they are smaller and therefore more susceptible to the blast, and since the weapons are often colourful and attractive to young eyes that see them as potential toys.

Landmines and ERW are present in over 85 countries, of which Afghanistan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Eritrea, Iraq, Laos, Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and Sudan are among the most affected. They hamper peace initiatives and relief and development activities; prevent the return of refugees and the resettlement of displaced populations; and slow down the rebuilding of infrastructure and the resumption of normal daily life.

Fortunately, there are solutions.  UNICEF works to teach children and their families how to live safely in contaminated areas until the lethal threat can be cleared permanently.  Partnership is key to long-term solutions, and so UNICEF works with states, non-state actors, other UN agencies, civil-society and other international organisations.  Generally called “Mine Risk Education,” or “MRE,”  UNICEF also supports the survivors of ERW incidents, and others who are injured and disabled.  Most important to a long term solution, many of these weapons now are banned.  UNICEF has been, and remains, a strong advocate of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions – the two most successful examples of humanitarian disarmament in recent times.  We advocate for the Optional Protocol to the CRC on Children and Armed Conflict, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  These are critical tools for protecting children.

UNICEF’s  activities are an essential and integral part of a broader sector that is called ‘Mine Action’ which deals with ERW in a comprehensive way including demining, victim assistance, stockpile destruction and advocacy. UNICEF has been involved in mine action since the early 1990s and is currently supporting mine action projects and activities in some 20 countries across different regions. UNICEF and its partners identify at-risk populations, carry out emergency and long-term mine/ERW risk education (MRE) and provide support to the rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors of mine/ERW incidents.  UNICEF also works cross-sectorally to integrate MRE messages and materials into school systems by training teachers and providing technical support to governments and NGOs.

Visit the resources page for more information. 




United Nations Mine Action Team, “Electronic Mine Information Network

United Nations Development Programme Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery, “Mine Action Programme

International Campaign to Ban Landmines

Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining

International Committee of the Red Cross, “Anti-personnel Landmines


The Ottawa Treaty - Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, signed December 1997

Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed December 2008

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, signed March 2007

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