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Centro de prensa

Press release

UNICEF praises Afghanistan for accepting treaty on land mines

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 level."

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."


For further information, please contact:
Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York (212) 326-7261
Chulho Hyun, UNICEF Media, Kabul (+ 9251 - 2212948-51 (ext.306)