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Photo Essay: Mine Risk Education Campaign in Shabwa, southern Yemen

By Ansar Rasheed

20 February 2018 - As the conflict escalates in Yemen, landmine contaminated areas are putting many children at risk of harm. In 2017 alone, 12 children were killed from mines, and a further 12 children were injured. UNICEF is working with partners across Yemen to reach children, parents and communities with messages to protect themselves from land mines and unexploded ordnances.

In Shabwa governorate in southern Yemen, where there have been many landmine casualties amongst children, UNICEF is working with Yemen Executive Mine Action Center (YEMAC) to carry out Mine Risk Education (MRE) activities.

With funding from the Australian Government, 18,000 children in Shabwa are being educated to stay safe from mines. Educational activities include community mobilization, drama workshops, and interpersonal awareness sessions in communities and schools. UNICEF, together with partners, also provides victim assistance support, including prosthetics, medical and psychosocial support, to children directly affected by mines and Unexploded Ordnance’s (UXO).

“I was playing in my backyard at home and found a tightly sealed plastic bag. I tried to open it and then the next thing I remember is lying here in this hospital. I’ve lost my right leg and my right arm is badly wounded. All I want now is for this pain to stop; it’s all over my body. But sometimes I also think about how I just want to be able to walk again, to play and be normal.” Ahmed Omaer, 14 years old.

“One day after school I was playing with my friends in the playground in our village. I saw a hole in the sand, and I found a ball inside. I grabbed it, but then I lost consciousness and can’t remember anything else. Now I am here in this hospital and I’ve lost all of my toes. I feel sad and worried about how my life will be in the future. I don’t want to be disabled or bullied or treated as abnormal. It makes me really scared of the outside world; I just can’t cope with that fear.” Fajer Mahmoud, 7 years old.

Children learn the key message not to touch strange objects as YEMAC volunteers carry out an interpersonal awareness session on Mine Risk Education (MRE) in a school in Bayhan district, Shabwa.

“My friends and I are now learning how to protect ourselves from mines. I have lost two of my friends because of mines, and some other friends were badly injured. This session has made me more aware and now I know how to protect myself and others from mines.” Abdulkarim Hussein, 12 years old.

Mohammed is 12 years old and after attending MRE sessions and he is now trained as a YEMAC volunteer. Here he is receiving an award for participating in a drama production about the risk of mines. This is just one of YEMACs approaches to educate children and students about mines.

Mohammed in action. In this play, Mohammed is engaging his peers and promoting lifesaving practices on mine risk prevention.

“I am one of the YEMAC volunteers. I talk to my peers and explain vital information about mines, so that they can protect themselves from mines and stay safe. Mines are the result of this ugly ongoing war and sadly it’s the children who the suffer the most.” Shahed Hussein, 11 years old.



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