The contribution of this paper does not necessarily imply the association of the ICRC with views or statements made in other chapters of the Landmine Monitor.
Overview of ICRC mine action
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is an impartial, neutral and independent humanitarian organisation, whose mission is to protect the lives and dignity of victims of war, and to promote and strengthen the law protecting them -- referred to as "international humanitarian law". The ICRC carries out these activities in 80 countries throughout the world, where it works in close cooperation with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
It is the ICRC's extensive operational presence in conflict areas, its special role in the development and implementation of humanitarian law and its singular position within the broader Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement that form the basis of its unique capacity to respond to the mine/ERW problem.
The ICRC's activities aiming to prevent further injury and economic loss caused by mines and ERW fall into two categories:
- promoting the development of, universal adherence to, and national implementation of humanitarian law treaties designed to protect civilians from landmines and ERW (Ottawa Convention, Amended Protocol II and Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons);
- implementing at a national level preventive mine action programmes, consisting of incident data gathering, risk reduction and risk education. Designed to reduce the physical, social and economic impact of mines and ERW on people living in contaminated areas, the ICRC's preventive mine action operations are most often carried out in cooperation with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, who at branch level provide extensive networks for grass-roots activities.
Through its operations in conflict-affected areas, the ICRC provides substantial assistance to mine victims by:
- supporting first aid services in areas of conflict, often run by National Societies;
- assisting hospitals and surgical services treating victims of conflict;
- supporting physical rehabilitation services in conflict-affected countries, and in other countries through the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled;
- in some contexts, providing micro-credit programmes for persons with disabilities.
Achievements in 2004
Promotion, development and implementation of legal norms
In 2004 the ICRC mobilized its operations worldwide to contribute to the success of the Ottawa Convention's First Review Conference (the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World) held at the end of the year, working in close collaboration with States Parties, the ICBL, the GICHD and the UN. It actively participated in States Parties' preparatory meetings, and in the Review Conference itself. In contacts and meetings, it encouraged national civil and military authorities to meet the requirements of the treaty, including the adoption of national implementing legislation, and organised or participated in regional meetings on the Convention held in Latin America (Quito), South-Eastern Europe (Bucharest), North-Eastern Europe (Vilnius), Central Asia (Dushanbe), Middle East (Amman), South East Asia (Bangkok), Africa (AU), West Africa (Ouagadougou) and Eastern Africa (Nairobi).
In cooperation with national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, the ICRC also engaged the media in all parts of the world with a view to highlighting the achievements and challenges of the Ottawa Convention in the run-up to the Review Conference. Materials the ICRC developed to generate media coverage on the landmine issue included a new brochure on Ending the Landmine Era, press kits, video footage and media visits to humanitarian mine action programmes in Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia and northern Kenya.
The ICRC also worked to promote the adherence to the Protocol on Explosive Remnants of War that was adopted in November 2003, and took an active part in the work carried out by the group of governmental experts. With the protocol open to ratification by States, the ICRC prepared materials to promote knowledge and understanding of the instrument. These included an updated CCW ratification kit, a booklet containing the text of the convention and its protocols and a promotional brochure on the ERW problem. These materials were distributed to governments and to all ICRC delegations and National Societies to promote the Convention and the protocol worldwide. The ICRC also participated in a briefing on the protocol for participants in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York. The ICRC also encouraged wider adherence to the CCW and the amendment to Article 1 of the Convention extending its application to non-international armed conflicts. Following efforts by the ICRC and National Societies in many countries, the amendment, which ensures that the convention's rules will apply to all forms of armed conflict, entered into force in May 2004 after it had been ratified by 20 States.
Mine action programmes
In 2004, the ICRC operated preventive mine action programmes in 27 countries, either directly or by providing expert guidance, training and technical know-how to National Societies.
In 2004, three regional mine-action advisers were responsible for providing technical advice and follow up on the planning and implementation of mine action programmes, covering the Russian Federation and the northern Caucasus; central Europe and the Middle East; and Angola and southern Africa.
In Iraq, the National Society continued to implement mine-risk education insofar as the security situation allowed, through the distribution of public awareness materials. In Afghanistan, where the ICRC remained a key player in mine action, data on mine and ERW incidents continued to be collected in support of the National Mine Action Programme while the National Society, with ICRC support, pursued its community-based mine-risk education activities. In Angola, National Society capabilities were further developed through training and other capacity-building work.
The ICRC initiated a new mine action programme in Myanmar and sustained technical support, mainly in mine-risk education, was provided to the National Societies in India and Iran, which both implemented preventive programmes in 2004. Needs assessments were carried out in Pakistan, Nepal and Zambia (for Angolan refugees).
The ICRC pursued constructive dialogue with the main international mine action organizations such as the UN Mine Action Service, UNICEF, UNDP, international NGOs and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. It continued its involvement in review and update of the International Mine Action Standards, and monitored developments and results related to the Global Impact Survey initiative. In addition, it adopted and integrated the IMSMA mine action software, thus improving data compatibility with others involved in mine action.
ICRC/National Red Cross and Red Crescent Society Mine Action 2004
Angola Mozambique* Sudan* Eritrea* Ethiopia Namibia Zambia
Cambodia* Afghanistan India Kyrgyzstan Myanmar Tajikistan Middle East Iraq Iran Israel/ Occupied and Autonomous Territories Jordan Lebanon Syria
Europe and the Americas
Albania Armenia Azerbaijan Bosnia and Herzegovina Croatia Serbia and Montenegro (Kosovo) Northern Caucasus (Russian Federation) Southern Caucasus (Azerbaijan) Colombia Nicaragua
*National Societies running mine action programmes without ICRC support
Surgical services for the war-wounded
Some 800 mine victims were admitted to the 48 hospitals that the ICRC supported regularly in 2004. This support was not specifically aimed at mine victims, but rather at maintaining and reinforcing surgical and other key hospital services in areas affected by conflict. To this end, the ICRC provided medicines, medical materials and other supplies, staff training, building repairs and improvements of water supply and sanitation facilities. The main programmes were in Afghanistan, the Caucasus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Sudan (the southern part of the country and Darfur), and Somalia.
The large majority of mine victims treated in ICRC-supported hospitals were in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Mine victims made up about 10% of the total of war-wounded patients treated in the facilities that ICRC supported worldwide, and only a small fraction of the over 250,000 admitted to those hospitals, which performed over 82,000 surgical operations. The ICRC also focused on helping reinforce national hospital management structures facing humanitarian crises. In Afghanistan, this included a thorough hospital management review in Jalalabad hospital and technical assistance to support of the health sector and the Ministry of Health efforts to ensure hospital sustainability. In addition, the ICRC organized 7 seminars on war surgery in Haiti (2), Myanmar (2), Sri Lanka, and the Russian Federation (2). Covering different aspects of the medical treatment of the war wounded, they included instruction on the care of mine injuries.
Physical Rehabilitation services for the disabled
In 2004, ICRC-supported physical rehabilitation centres helped over 9,000 mine victims improve their mobility through the provision of prostheses, orthoses, wheelchairs, walking aids and physiotherapy. Mine victims accounted for some 56% of the amputees treated through ICRC physical rehabilitation programmes worldwide. In August 2004, ICRC physical rehabilitation programmes received the Brian Batchford prize in recognition of its innovative achievements, particularly in the design and development of the polypropylene prosthetic system which, as an alternative to more costly technologies, has become a standard for appropriate and low-cost prosthetic services in developing countries.
In 2004, the ICRC physical rehabilitation programme supported 67 physical rehabilitation centres and two orthopaedic component factories in 25 countries affected by conflict. Of the projects supported, 60% were run in partnership with national governments, 18% with NGOs, and 11% with National Societies. The remaining 11% (in Afghanistan and in Kenya on the border with Sudan) were run by the ICRC itself. The centres served a total of 38,700 disabled people.
The overall number of projects assisted did not change a great deal from 2003: the ICRC began programmes in India, Nepal and Pakistan and took on one more project in Democratic Republic of the Congo, where it already had a programme supporting other centres; it ended programmes in Namibia and Zambia, and seven projects in countries where it continued its support to other centres (three in Ethiopia, two in Lebanon, and one each in Russia and DR Congo).
The ICRC ran the programmes in 14 countries (42 projects) with the full-time presence of an expatriate; it monitored the 27 projects in the remaining 11 countries through regular, short missions. Countries with projects that received periodic technical assistance included Algeria, Azerbaijan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Iraq, Namibia, Nepal, Lebanon, Russia and Syria.
The ICRC-supported component factories in Cambodia and Afghanistan provided the components needed to supply a total 25,000 orthopaedic appliances. These were delivered not only to ICRC-supported centres, but also to those supported by other organizations working in Cambodia and Afghanistan.
The ICRC sponsored 27 candidates from 8 countries to attend formal training in prosthetics and orthotics, and organized physiotherapy refresher courses in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Georgia, Myanmar, and Zambia. Formal and upgrading prosthetics and orthotics training programmes continued in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Sudan, while formal training ended in Russia.
ICRC-assisted physical rehabilitation projects in 2004 Country/delegation Centres Orthopaedic Component Factories Afghanistan Kabul, Mazar, Herat, Jalalabad, Gulbahar, Faizabad Kabul Algeria Algiers Angola Huambo, Kuito, Luanda Azerbaijan Baku, Ganja, Nakhichevan Cambodia (Bangkok regional) Battambang Phnom Penh China (Bangkok regional) Kunming Chad N'jamana Democratic Republicof the Congo Kinshasa (2), Mbuji Mayi , Lubumbashi Democratic People'sRepublic of Korea (Bangkok regional) Songrim Ethiopia Harar, Addis Ababa (4), Mekelle, Dessie, Arba Minch Georgia Gagra, Tbilisi India (New Delhi regional) Jammu Kenya Lokichokio Iraq Baghdad (4), Mosul, Basra, Najaf, Arbil Lebanon Saida, Beit Chabad Myanmar Yangon (2), Pyinoolwin, Mandalay, Yenanthar, Hpa-An Namibia (Harare regional) Rundu Nepal Pokhara Pakistan Quetta Russian Federation(Moscow regional) Grozny, Sochi Sudan Kassala, Khartoum, Juba, Nyala, Damazin, Kadugly, Dongola Syria Damas Tajikistan(Tashkent regional) Dushanbe Yemen Sanaa, Mukalla Zambia (Harare regional) Lusaka
ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled
The ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD) this is OK: it gives the acronym to the reader ensures the continuity of support for physical rehabilitation services for the disabled, providing technical and material assistance to many centres formerly supported by the ICRC. In 2004, it provided prostheses to some 2,500 mine survivors in countries where the ICRC is no longer operational (accounting for 30 to 40% of the total number of amputees it served), particularly through its projects in Columbia, Nicaragua, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Overall, the SFD supported 44 projects in 19 countries in 2004, providing over 14,000 disabled people with prostheses or orthoses. It began assisting eight more projects during the year, two in Somalia and one each in Togo, Vietnam, Nicaragua, Guinea-Bissau, and Timor-Leste. Two-thirds of the SFD assisted centres were run by governmental authorities.
The SFD produced training materials in prosthetics, orthotics and clinical methods, and sponsored a total of 12 trainees from assisted centres to attend regional schools for one to three years of training in prosthetics and orthotics. It gave a one-month training course to a total of 50 trainees at the regional training centre in Addis Ababa, and in cooperation with regional schools in Togo, Morocco, and Kenya gave three regional seminars (attended by 72 professionals) on the management of polypropylene lower-limb prostheses. This was all in addition to the regular on-the-job training provided through regular visits to the centres supported.
SFD-assisted projects 2004 Europe (1) Africa (28) Latin America (3) Asia (12) Albania (1) Ethiopia Regional Training Centre (1)Cameroon (1)Guinea-Bissau (1)Kenya (3)Mali (8)Mauritania (1)Morocco (2)Nigeria (2)Somalia (3)Tanzania (2)Togo (2)Zimbabwe (2) Nicaragua (2)Colombia (1) Vietnam (8)India (1)Bangladesh (2)Timor-Leste (1)