Statement by Nejmudin Kedir Bilal, acting UNICEF Representative in Somalia, on increased deaths and serious injuries to children involved in landmine explosions
MOGADISHU, 09 September 2023 – “UNICEF has learned that within a couple of days, multiple children have been victims in three separate incidents that involved discharges of unexploded ordnances (UXOs). Countrywide, at least four children are reported dead, and five children have been left with life-threatening injuries after playing with remnants of war. It is unacceptable that these occurrences are increasing in Somalia, following the reported deaths of six children in a landmine explosion in Hirshabelle State, in June, and a reported twenty children’s deaths in South West State, in July of this year.
“We offer heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of the victims. Every child has a right to a safe and protective environment. This must be a top priority in all situations, especially in Somalia, where the protracted conflict has left behind a legacy of explosive hazards.
“UNICEF calls upon all parties to the conflict in Somalia to conduct regular risk mapping, take responsibility to handle explosive remnants of war with care, to clear existing mines and unexploded devices. Furthermore, there is a need for scaled up explosive ordnance risk education among children and communities.
“UNICEF works closely with the government and humanitarian actors to reduce the risks that landmines and explosive remnants of war present to children. This involves technical guidance and programming on risk education.”
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.
UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has over 300 staff working in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Dollow, Garowe, Hargeisa and also Nairobi, Kenya. Together with 200 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, and responds to emergencies and supports peace-building and development.