UNICEF began its mine action programmes in El Salvador and Somalia in 1993, and in Angola and Cambodia from 1994, extending mine action projects to 34 countries/areas in 2005, including:
Afghanistan Lao PDR Albania Lebanon Angola Liberia Azerbaijan Mauritania Bosnia-Herzegovina Nepal Burundi Nicaragua Cambodia Occupied Palestinian Territory Chad Panama Colombia Russian Federation Democratic Republic of the Congo Senegal Eritrea Somalia Ethiopia Sri Lanka Georgia Sudan Guatemala Syria Guinea-Bissau Thailand Iraq Vietnam Indonesia Zambia
In 2005, UNICEF’s global financial requirements for mine action are around 23,000,000 US dollars. Foremost among UNICEF’s current donors include the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, UNICEF National Committees, the European Commission, Australia, Italy, Germany, among others.
As a part of a coordinated UN programme, UNICEF’s action focuses on mine risk education, humanitarian advocacy and assistance to the survivors of accidents.
In 2001 UNICEF developed the UNICEF Mine Action Strategy 2002-2005, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of UNICEF’s headquarters, regional and country offices. The Strategy is based on the 1998 UN Mine Action Policy on effective coordination, the UNICEF Mission Statement, its Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies, its Peace and Security Agenda, the World Fit for Children Outcome Document, UNICEF’s Medium Term Strategic Plan and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The role of UNICEF’s country office in relation to mine action is to incorporate landmine impact into regular situation assessments, raise awareness of the problem, and support government and other partners in planning and providing appropriate responses to reduce risk. This is done as part of an interagency approach. The country office also undertakes rapid mine risk assessment, and plays a coordinating role for mine risk education in emergencies.
The regional office is the main monitoring mechanism for Strategy implementation, including the incorporation of landmine action into emergency preparedness and response plans. The regional office coordinates UNICEF’s landmine action responses on regional, sub-regional and cross-border programmes, and carries out advocacy at these levels.
The headquarters is responsible for policy, desk and direct technical support to country and regional offices. The headquarters has global responsibility for evaluating strategy implementation, and for global advocacy.
In undertaking mine action, UNICEF strives to ensure the survival, protection, and development of women and children, and recognises that landmines and other explosive remnants of war directly and indirectly threaten children’s rights to life, survival and development.
UNICEF works with and support states, UN agencies and like minded civil society partners and international organisations to help children, their families and their communities understand how to reduce mine risks, through mine risk education, and advocates for and with them on mine related issues.
UNICEF views its mine action work as a crucial supporting element of the broader humanitarian, development and peace building agenda. Mine action is a public health issue, a rights issue, and an issue of social justice requiring flexible and often diverse solutions that not only target the direct threat of mines, but view the problem in light of wider social considerations.
The Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World reviewed the progress in the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and paved the way for action in the coming five years. During the Summit, Carol Bellamy reinforced UNICEF’s commitment to mine action.
UNICEF has reiterated that the elimination of landmines can and must be completed through the universalisation of the Mine Ban Treaty and the successful implementation of mine action programmes in the coming years.
In 2005, the UNICEF Mine Action Strategy will be evaluated and reviewed to reflect UNICEF’s ongoing commitment to mine action. A new Strategy will be developed for the period 2006-2009 in line with UNICEF’s new Medium Term Strategic Plan and the 2005-2009 Mine Action Plan endorsed by States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty at the Nairobi Summit.
In 2005, the United Nations launched a revised inter-agency policy on mine action. Within this policy UNICEF has committed itself to continue and diversify its work to combat the threat of landmines.
Over coming years, UNICEF will focus on the development and implementation of MRE projects and associated activities, consistent with its capacities and priorities at country level. In situations of emergency, UNICEF may also support the national coordination of MRE with UNMAS, and in the absence of UNMAS or the UNDP, UNICEF may accept responsibility as the United Nations focal point for mine action in any given country. Such arrangements are to be determined by the United Nations’ Country Team and coordinated with the Mine Action Interagency Coordination Group.
Generally speaking, following the identification of humanitarian needs, UNICEF will support the following types of activities with its partners:
- Developing landmine injury surveys and surveillance systems
- Monitoring and evaluating UN-led MRE programmes and projects
- Monitoring the humanitarian impact of landmines and ERW
- Developing and implementing public information campaigns, education and training projects, and community liaison projects
- Survivor assistance projects, integrated in public health and social services programmes
- Supporting hazardous area marking projects
- In exceptional circumstances, supporting the implementation of quick response mine clearance and explosive ordnance disposal activities.
In all its work UNICEF will seek to build the capacity of its local and international partners to undertake effective mine action projects. UNICEF will continue to work to develop effective mechanisms to coordinate MRE projects, such as establishing national MRE working groups, undertakes MRE and associated training activities for practitioners, in addition to providing direct technical assistance to government and other national partners.
To promote best practice, UNICEF will continue to support the development of national and international MRE policy, tools and techniques, guidelines and standards. Through outreach activities, UNICEF will disseminate and promote the adoption of the practices identified in the standards, policies and guidelines, and undertakes periodic evaluations of their effect.
UNICEF will continue to promote ratification and implementation of the Mine Ban Convention: helping to ensure that states and non state actors are aware of the threat and fully conscious of their terrible effects; that existing landmines are destroyed, hazardous areas marked; that new landmines are neither procured, manufactured nor laid; and that services are in place for survivors - particularly women and children.
Included in UNICEF’s advocacy efforts is a commitment to address problems associated with other explosive remnants of war, such as cluster munitions, to work for the further development of international law in relation to ERW and weapons that have indiscriminate effects. In addition UNICEF will continue to be an advocate for the promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities.
UNICEF will work with national governments to integrate MRE into school curricula, emergency education programmes and life-skills training. In collaboration with WHO, ICRC and other partners UNICEF will ensure the integration of landmine survivors in its broader public health, education and other development programmes, and advocates for similar inclusive strategies by other organisations.
UNICEF would like to express thanks to governments of affected and non-affected states for the support they have given UNICEF in realising its mine action work, in providing access, technical and financial assistance.