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close this bookICRC Overview 1999 - Landmines Must Be Stopped (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1999, 40 p.)
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View the documentForeword
View the documentLegal background
View the documentVictim assistance
View the documentMine awareness
View the documentMine clearance
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Mine awareness

Even with the best will in the world, it will be many years before all emplaced anti-personnel mines are successfully cleared and destroyed. For this reason, mine awareness programmes will remain an importan element of mine-related activities for some time to come.



Mine awareness programmes aim to reduce the risk of death and injury by promoting safe behaviour and facilitating appropriate responses to the problem. In general, programmes provide information on the identification of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) and the dangers they represent, and seek to teach safe behaviour to civilians living in or moving into mine-affected communities. This includes guidance on how to recognize that an area may be contaminated by mines and UXO as well as what to do if someone accidentally finds himself in the middle of a minefield. Instruction in basic first aid for mine victims will often be part of the programme.

Programmes are also increasingly aiming to facilitate solutions to high-risk be behaviour. In many post-conflict settings, economic necessity is such that returning refugees or internally displaced persons knowingly venture into mined areas search of food, water or wood. For example, to minimize the risk involved in collecting firewood from a mined area, a programme may try and encourage the community to contribute jointly to fuel costs, or may prioritize a wooded area for mine clearance, or even implement an income-generating programme to enable people to purchase firewood with their additional income. The development of participatory strategies to enable mine-affected communities to find solutions that are best tailored to own is, to reducing the number of deaths


Before establishing a mine awareness programme, a needs assessment should first be undertaken. The assessment should seek to obtain information on the scale of the mine problem and collect any hospital statistics or anecdotal reports indicating the causes of mine incidents. It should also identify available or potential resources in-country - human, financial and logistical - which could be mobilized to establish a mine awareness programme.

Once the need is identified, plans can be drawn up for a programme. Planning a mine awareness programme is much more than designing an attractive poster or TV spot: the areas to be covered by the programme must be identified, the numbers and profiles of instructors to be trained must be defined, and local and national partners to be included in the programme must be approached. This planning stage is best undertaken in close collaboration with the target communities: imposing solutions from outside is unsustainable and almost invariably ineffective.


In 1999, the ICRC continued its mine awareness programmes in Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia, and was planning to develop programmes in a number of other mine-affected countries.


Launched in 1996, the ICRC’s programme in Azerbaijan is directed towards those living in front-line areas and in settlements for the displaced, seeking to provide information that will prevent people from being killed or maimed by mines or unexploded ordnance.

The first phase of the programme has alerted the population to the danger of mines and to the fact that a problem actually exists. Ten different relief agencies took part in the distribution of mine awareness material, and information was also handed out through the armed forces. Over 28,000 leaflets were distributed seed kits between 1996 and 1998, than 110,000 families received mine awareness information during spring and summer 1997. So far, 18,000 posters have been displayed in front-line villages and in settlements for displaced people.

The second phase aims at bringing more specific information and knowledge to the community. Since early autumn 1997, schoolchildren in front-line schools and in schools for the internally displaced have been targeted through mine awareness training given by their teachers. They have also received stickers, posters, timetables and exercise books bearing a mine awareness message. By early 1999, ICRC mine awareness officers had trained more than 9,000 teachers in eight districts along the front-line and in areas throughout the country where internally displaced people had settled. More than 120,000 children will eventually be reached. Mine awareness training and the distribution of posters and copybooks will continue throughout 1999. In late 1998 an animated cartoon was produced on the subject of mine awareness. It will serve as an additional tool for mine awareness training.

Warning of the dangers: some of the posters in use.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Launched in the spring of 1996 with an emergency public awareness campaign, the programme consists of four compliments

· a community-based approach which seeks to encourage local communities to initiate mine awareness activities in their yeas tailored to their own needs For example, local Red Cross volunteers have organized summer camps focusing on mine awareness and first aid, theatre shows for children, Today a dozen paid staff and more than 120 volunteers are implementing activities throughout the country;

· a mass media campaign which involves the distribution of leaflets, posters and brochures, plus 11 new radio spots and six TV spots Supported by local media which broadcast or publish mine awareness messages, it is backed up by mass distribution of information materials in the communities at risk,

· a data-gathering component, in which the ICRC - the only organization to do so systematically gathers information on mine victims, including data on age, gender and activity at the time of injury The data gathered should ICRC to improve targeting of future activities;

· a school-based programme which, thanks to nearly universal school attendance, reaches the majority of children through the classroom. The ICRC has developed a school curriculum which is currently being implemented in Bosnian schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Education. In addition, it launched a nationwide drawing and essay competition in January 1997. The competition was intended to raise children's awareness of the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) and mobilize local communities, including Red Cross branches. Schools located in mine-affected areas and schools attended by children living in mine-affected villages were given priority the competition. Thanks to the development of their structures, the Red Cross organizations in the two entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina are playing an increasingly important role in implementing the programme and ensuring its sustainability, thus boosting the ICRC’s efforts in this area.



The Croatian mine awareness programme (MAP) was jointly launched in March 1996 by the ICRC and the Croatian Red Cross (CRC). This community-based programme works through the network of CRC branches to reach population groups most at risk - such as returnees, children and farmers. It specifically aims to change people's behaviour in order to prevent mine and UXO-related accidents. It is planned to hand the MAP over gradually to the CRC, which will continue coordinating the programme in all affected areas of Croatia until mines are no longer a threat. Information remains an important component of the MAP. In 1998, over 50.000 people were reached through mine awareness presentations. Fruitful cooperation is ongoing with the print and broadcast media, as are the production and distribution of new generations of mine awareness publications and materials. In a repeat of 1996, when 115.000 leaflets and 10,000 posters were distributed and info-spots were broadcast nation-wide on television and 25 radio stations, 1998 saw the distribution of some 100,000 pocket-sized leaflets on security. An illustrated brochure, calendar and fact sheet were also produced. In addition, during 1999 all CRC personnel working in mine-affected communities will participate in workshops aimed at strengthening their communication skills, with representatives of the regional media attending as facilitators and observers.


The MAP is constantly evolving and adapting to changing needs. Recruitment and training programmes for volunteer instructors now include modules on presentation techniques, interactive skills, community participation and cooperation with demining experts. Volunteers from the mine-affected communities are coordinated by local CRC branches: they are key to the MAP’S long-term sustainability.

Since autumn 1998, in the spirit of the MAP’S community-based approach, the Red Cross has been supporting and facilitating local initiatives in many mine-affected communities. Such projects typically evolve from within the community. With the assistance and collaboration of the ICRC and local Red Cross branches, ways are sought of promoting mine awareness in a medium appropriate to the local situation. These often involve imaginative approaches such as community theatre and multimedia performances.

Painstaking and expensive: enabling local people to cultivate their land again.

Luz Luzemo/ICRC