The UN Mine Action policy was submitted to the Secretary-General to the fifty-third session of the General Assembly as part of his report on assistance in mine clearance (A/53/496). This policy, which inter alia clarifies the roles and responsibilities within the United Nations system states that:
“...working in collaboration with UNMAS;
- UNICEF...is the UN focal point on mine awareness education. In this capacity, it will provide appropriate guidance for all mine awareness programmes, liaising closely with concerned partners such as OCHA, WFP, UNHCR, WHO and UNDP.
- UNICEF, in collaboration with WHO, ICRC, and other partners where appropriate, will ensure comprehensive rehabilitation of landmine victims, which includes psychosocial counseling, physical rehabilitation (including the provision of prosthetics and orthotics, and education for those with disabilities).
- UNICEF will continue to be an active advocate for the promotion of a total ban on antipersonnel Landmines and the ratification of the Ottawa Convention”.
In its policy and strategy development in the area of mine action, UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its mission statement, its Core Corporate Commitments in emergencies, and its responsibilities as stated in the UN policyMine Action and Effective Coordination.
In 2001, UNICEF embarked on a consultative process with other mine action stakeholders in order to further define its role and to develop a mine action strategy. This will be completed by the of 2001, and will complement the UN Inter-agency mine action strategy, emergency preparedness and response plan, as well as UNICEF’s own work in health, education and child protection, particularly in emergencies.
UNICEF is currently to varying degrees undertaking, supporting or planning mine action programmes, mostly mine awareness education and advocacy, in 28 countries; Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo), Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Russian Federation (North Caucasus), Panama, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria (Golan Heights), Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand and Uzbekistan. In 2001, UNICEF has for the first time deployed staff directly to a UN and national mine action programmes, in Eritrea and Ethiopia respectively.
As the premier advocate on behalf of children and women, the UN Children’s Fund continues to play an active role in supporting a total ban on anti-personnel mines, including promotion of the universal ratification and implementation of the Anti-Personnel (AP) Mine Ban Convention through the extended outreach of its headquarter, regional and field office staff, and in close collaboration with UN agencies and partners such as the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
UNICEF has participated in all major international meetings including the Second Meeting of States Parties to the AP Mine Ban Convention and its Standing Committees of Experts, the Bamako seminar on the universalisation and implementation of the AP Mine Ban Convention in Africa, and has contributed to the UNOPS sponsored Aid & Trade Conference. Furthermore, UNICEF participated in ICBL Landmine Monitor meetings in Washington and Kathmandu, contributing to its final report. UNICEF also advocates for the needs and welfare of those affected/potentially affected by landmines and other explosive remnants of war in a wide range of humanitarian and development forums, publications and media releases.
UNICEF has also initiated the development of an illustrated book on the history and impact of landmines for educational and advocacy purposes.
Role and Approach
UNICEF seeks to ensure, but not necessarily itself implement, mine awareness wherever needs have been identified. UNICEF is particularly active in the school-based and other child focused components of community mine-awareness programmes, working in close collaboration with other UN agencies, government partners, ICRC and international and local NGOs. Using the advantages of its widespread, long-term country presence, strong regional and country structures and national partnerships, UNICEF is focussing on responding quickly and flexibly to the urgent needs of communities in high-risk areas. This natural progression for programmatic responses emanated from the fact that thousands of children each year, were being injured and killed by landmines and is also part of UNICEF’s efforts to mainstreaming emergency response into its regular programming.
In its role as UN Focal Point for Mine Awareness Education, UNICEF, in collaboration with its partners, developed theInternational Guidelines on Landmine and Unexploded Ordnance Awareness Education, which were launched at the First Meeting of States Parties to the AP Mine Ban Convention in Maputo, in May 1999. Following the development of the Guidelines the international community requested UNICEF to operationalise the Guidelines into a working document for field staff that culminated in the development of theUNInternational Training Modules for Mine Awareness Programme Managers and Community Facilitators. Field testing of the modules was undertaken in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia in April 2000. Participants included UNICEF, UN Red Cross and NGO staff working in CEE/CIS countries on mine awareness education. These Modules were introduced at the Second Meeting of States Parties to the AP Mine Ban Convention in Geneva, in May 2000. The first “training of trainers” workshop utilising these modules was undertaken by UNICEF in North Caucasus in September 2000 in order to deal with the urgent mine crisis in that region. The training modules are now being reviewed as part of the development of the International Standards for Landmine and UXO Awareness/Risk Reduction Education.
During the Inter-sessional Meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts (SCE) on Victim Assistance, Socio-Economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness member States called upon UNICEF to take the lead in developingGuidelines for the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of Mine Awareness Programmes and International Standards for Landmine and UXO Awareness/Risk Reduction Education Programmes. The Development of the Standards and Guidelines was initiated in 2001. The Standards will replace the existing UN Guidelines on Landmine Awareness Education and the Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines will become Technical Notes to the Standards.
UNICEF will coordinate the development of a series of simple step-by-step manuals on different aspects of mine awareness/risk reduction education, drawing on actual examples from mine awareness agencies and practitioners. This was a key recommendation from a well-attended international workshop on mine awareness media and materials, organised and hosted by Radda Barnen in Yemen, in 2001. As with the Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines, these manuals will take the form of supplementary Technical Notes to the International Standards for Landmine and UXO Awareness/Risk Reduction Education Programmes.
In May 2001, UNICEF organised the first meeting of the Steering Committee of Mine Action - Mine Awareness Working Group (MAWG). This group is convened by UNICEF under the umbrella of the UN Mine Action Service and the Steering Committee of Mine Action. The MAWG is intended to support the development of mine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness education programmes by identifying mine awareness resource, training and support needs and developing strategies to meet them. It is comprised of UN mine action agencies, World Bank, ICRC, Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), ICBL Mine Awareness Working Group and a broad range of NGOs. The MAWG will also serve as a vehicle for sharing, capturing and disseminating lessons learnt in this and other relevant sectors, and for enhanced coordination and cooperation between mine awareness agencies. The Working Group will steer, and its members will participate in, significant global projects such as the integration of mine awareness/risk reduction into the International Mine Action Standards and IMSMA.
In the area of partnerships UNICEF has been involved in preliminary discussions with the ICRC to develop a cooperation framework to promote coordinated mine awareness policy.
UNICEF continues to participate in all the UNMAS-lead Inter-Agency Assessment Missions to mine-affected countries. Additionally, the agency has also undertaken mine awareness needs assessments ininter alia Eritrea, Bosnia and Chad, where the needs for mine awareness are critical, and provided emergency responses in Burundi and Macedonia. UNICEF has provided technical expertise and assistance towards the preparation and development of additional mine awareness programmes based on the above assessments and seeks to integrate all mine-related issues within its regular programming work.
Landmine victim assistance is part of UNICEF’s work in the broader areas of disability and child protection. The work in victim assistance is focussed on strengthening partnerships with the aim of providing effective support to children and others injured by landmines and ensuring access to services. UNICEF has been involved in the preliminary discussions for the development of a UN Victim Assistance Policy and is involved in the study, commissioned by UNMAS and undertaken by GICHD, on the nature and scope of victim assistance as part of mine action. UNICEF has also taken part in discussions on the care and protection of children who became landmine victims in a range of forums, including the Inter-agency Working Group consisting of WHO, ILO, UNESCO and UNICEF, and has also participated in disseminating to UNICEF regional and country offices the WHO technical guidelines on responding to child victims. A database of consultants with experience in community based rehabilitation and other relevant skills has been developed.
UNICEF is involved in mine action in all continents affected by landmines. The agency hasinter alia undertaken capacity building of its local counterparts, trained trainers and produced materials which have been utilised for various mine awareness programmes and continues to be involved in victim assistance and advocacy. Below are a few examples of UNICEF’s involvement in mine action at country level.
In 2001, UNICEF deployed a mine awareness advisor to the UN Mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) Mine Action Coordination Centre). This was the first time UNICEF provided a mine awareness advisor to a UN Mine Action Centre. The issue of landmines and UXO became a major threat when the border regions Gash-Barka and Debub (these regions consists of areas both within and outside the Temporary Security Zone) were mined during the conflict with Ethiopia. UNICEF in collaboration with the Eritrea Demining Agency, the Ministry of Education and various NGOs, mobilized human and financial resources and within the context of UN peacekeeping (UNMEE-MACC) initiated landmine awareness education and training in Gash-Barka and Debub. The campaign developed and tested materials, trained local administrators in their use and targeted returning refugees from Sudan as well as communities and schools. By the end of 2000, a total of 35,000 people including 25,000 school children and 6,000 IDPs had been reached. In 2001, mine awareness activities have been intensified in the Temporary Security Zone owing to the increased number of returnees to the region.
Following a mine awareness feasibility study (is mine/UXO awareness required and can it be conducted?) in Ethiopia, UNICEF began working in partnership with the local NGO RaDO to implement a landmine awareness programme in the border region Tigray region. The fully community-based programme is now in its second year and operates throughout Tigray using a variety of methods such as children’s mines clubs, drama, radio and community mine-field mapping. In addition, through its zonal and district based task forces, RaDO collects data on civilian mine accidents which is forwarded to the local authorities and the national Ethiopian Mine Action Office. Given the suspected level of mine contamination in another border region, Afar, a joint RaDO UNIICEF mission visited the region in May 2001 to discuss with the regional authorities the expansion of the mine awareness programme.
UNICEF has supported mine awareness education in Angola since 1994 and it remains one of UNICEF’s major mine awareness programmes. A variety of techniques are used to communicate mine awareness messages through NGO and provincial theatre/dance groups who shared mine awareness messages via culturally appropriate techniques, including plays, puppet shows, posters, traditional songs and dance. In 2000, over 2,600 sessions were carried out in the most affected provinces and reached 300,000 Angolans. Mine awareness-training seminars were held for 853 teachers who then incorporated mine awareness messages into daily lessons helping to raise awareness of the danger of mines for over 38,385 schoolchildren. Mine awareness messages were also communicated through the UNICEF Teacher Emergency Package program which distributes educational materials to teachers working in non-formal (e.g. IDP centers) education settings.
In Cambodia, UNICEF continued its comprehensive approach to Cambodia’s landmine and UXO problem consisting of mine action and assistance to mine victims and other people with disabilities. The mine Risk Education Project equipped teachers to provide risk education within the classroom. Out-of-school children were targeted through a child-to-child approach. A total of 2,520 teachers were trained in mine risk education, reaching over 55,000 children in heavily affected areas. Community mine marking teams have marked high priority areas cleared in support of community needs (paths between villages, construction of schools and health posts). These teams have also marked areas still suspected. In victim assistance, UNICEF continued to support activities for both physical rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. Over 3,000 assistive devices were produced and fitted, mostly on women and children. Over 2,500 persons with disabilities received counselling and/or were supported for socio-economic reintegration.