Landmine Monitor 2001

Mine Awareness

The term mine awareness (or mine-risk education as it is otherwise known) is used to describe programs that seek to reduce deaths and injuries from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) through information, education and dialogue with at-risk communities. The primary objective of mine awareness is to promote safe (or safer) behavior among communities living or working amid mine and UXO contamination. In this, it should be distinguished from campaigns designed to raise general public awareness of the impact of mines and UXO and the consequent plight of affected communities (although such information and advocacy campaigns may overlap with mine awareness, and even sometimes serve a double function).

In this Landmine Monitor reporting period, substantial resources have been committed to mine awareness programs in Kosovo and south Lebanon; elsewhere a number of programs have reported difficulty in obtaining funding. New programs have been initiated in Burundi and Kisangani in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Additional activities have been carried out in Eritrea and Ethiopia, following the signature of the peace agreement, and in Georgia. Handicap International is conducting an assessment of its program tools in six countries. UNICEF has announced the development of mine awareness standards and accompanying guidelines for monitoring and evaluation.

Key Actors

As with the previous reporting period, the principal mine awareness actors internationally have been UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Handicap International (HI) Belgium and France, the International Save the Children Alliance, and Mines Advisory Group (MAG). In Central America, the Organization of American States (OAS) has been active in a number of affected countries. Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation have implemented programs in Kosovo, which has also seen the emergence of relatively new mine awareness actors, such as the Association for Aid and Relief-Japan, Caritas, Danish Church Aid, HMD Response, INTERSOS, Islamic Relief Worldwide, and the Mines Awareness Trust.[36] HALO Trust, previously unenthusiastic about mine awareness, has worked in conjunction with a Japanese NGO that carried out awareness and community liaison activities. The International Protection Force, KFOR, has also conducted mine awareness in schools in a “soldier to child” program.

UNICEF reports that it is “currently to varying degrees undertaking, supporting or planning mine action programs, mostly mine awareness education and advocacy, in 28 countries: Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo), Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos), 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 program, in Eritrea and Ethiopia respectively.”[37]

HI-France has implemented or supported mine-risk education (MRE) in seven countries: Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina (through a local NGO, APM), Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau (through a local NGO, Andes), Mozambique, Senegal, and Thailand. The program in Ethiopia closed on 1 June after objectives were reached.[38] HI-Belgium has been implementing mine awareness programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kisangani).[39]

In 2000, working directly or through National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC conducted mine awareness programs in Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Lebanon, Nicaragua, the northern Caucasus region of the Russian Federation (including Chechnya), and the regions of Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh. In addition, data collection began in Iraq and on the Tajikistan/Uzbekistan border to determine whether there is a need for mine/UXO-awareness programs. New mine awareness programs were started in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Lebanon, the Russian Federation (Chechnya), and the region of Kosovo.[40]

Regional Summaries of Mine Awareness Programs

During the reporting period, attention and funding has concentrated on programs in southern Lebanon and especially Kosovo where more than 20 organizations and bodies have carried out mine awareness during the past two years.[41] Other organizations, for example HI-Belgium, have complained about lack of funding in other contexts for their field programs.[42]

In Africa, programs have been conducted in Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti (including for refugees from Somaliland), Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Somaliland,[43] Sudan (including in the south), and Uganda. A UNICEF needs assessment in Chad in July 2000 recommended the establishment of an integrated community liaison and UXO disposal initiative in the east of the country, but to date no activities have yet been implemented, reportedly because of funding difficulties.[44]

In 1999, UNICEF commissioned an in-depth evaluation of its mine awareness program in Huila and Uige provinces of Angola; the evaluation was jointly funded by UNICEF, CIET and Canadian DFAIT. Although the findings were broadly positive, the evaluation report noted that students who had received mine awareness under the program were less likely than other children to stay out of a known mined area, to recognize high-risk sites, and to tell their family members what to do if one encounters a mine. Changes to the mine awareness program as a result included the adaptation of messages to encourage behavior change rather than providing information on merely the dangers of mines, the development of a simple monitoring tool, and the development of information and materials in local languages.[45]

In March 2001, in the DRC, HI Belgium launched a six-month mine action program to prepare, coordinate and implement a clearance and mine awareness program in the Kisangani area. In Uganda, mine awareness programs in Gulu and the neighboring districts were suspended in October 2000 due to the Ebola outbreak in the area. Mine awareness activities covering northern and western Uganda were resumed in April after the area was declared free of the disease.

In Mozambique, HI has been temporarily given back responsibility for coordinating mine awareness from the National Institute for Demining, which lacks the capacity and resources to do it. In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, mine awareness education was introduced into the national curriculum and from 2001, it is being taught in schools. In Malawi, there may be a need for mine awareness targeting civilians living along the border with Mozambique.

In the Americas, mine awareness programs have been carried out in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and, to a limited extent, in Peru. In Colombia, a government-funded pilot project on mine awareness and victim assistance is being implemented in three of the most mine-affected departments in the country between June and December 2001. It aims to establish a database on mine casualties and mine-affected communities and to start building local mine action capacity, including the implementation of mine awareness programs for at-risk communities.

The Nicaraguan Red Cross, supported by UNICEF and ICRC, continues with its “child to child” mine awareness program in communities along the northern border with Honduras. The program is discarding the use of the notorious Superman and Wonder Woman comics.[46] In April 2001, the Organization of American States and UNICEF jointly convened a workshop of all actors working in the area of prevention in mine action to coordinate messages and approaches in mine awareness in Nicaragua.

In Asia, significant mine awareness programs have continued in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, and Sri Lanka, and smaller scale activities have been conducted in Thailand and Vietnam.

The mine awareness education program in Afghanistan currently consists of 150 mine awareness trainers and approximately 2,000 community volunteers. Each NGO implements its awareness activities using a number of different approaches to presenting a core set of information. In the year 2000, more than one million civilians reportedly received mine awareness education in various parts of the country.

In Cambodia, mine awareness is undergoing a major shift in focus, following a lead from MAG. The emphasis is now shifting to community liaison, in which information and education activities about the danger of mines take a back seat. This new approach reflects the already high level of awareness among the civilian population and the recognition that economic and other survival pressures will not be solved by the mere provision of information. In Laos, a small-scale evaluation of mine awareness commissioned by UNICEF was carried out in August 2000.

In Europe, mine awareness programs have been implemented in Abkhazia, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the Russian Federation (Chechnya and Ingushetia).

In Azerbaijan, UNICEF had made a public statement in May 2000 about its intention to conduct a mine awareness program, but no work was subsequently undertaken through December 2000. In February 2001, UNICEF was reported to have announced that it was beginning a new mine awareness program designed for 800 teachers, 500 health officials, and 200 representatives of public organizations, and that the program would be carried out jointly with the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (АNАМА). On 8 February 2001, the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines and other public organizations sent an open letter to UNICEF and ANAMA expressing their concerns about the awareness program.[47]

In Albania, in June 2000, an assessment mission was carried out jointly by the ICRC and a mine clearance NGO to determine the extent of the mine/UXO problem in the three most contaminated districts.[48] Through contacts with the relevant authorities in Tirana, the ICRC has helped the NGO raise funds for setting up demining programs directly linked to the Albanian Red Cross/ICRC mine awareness programs so as to respond to the needs of affected communities.[49] The community-based mine awareness program is also closely linked to programs providing assistance for mine victims. The ICRC has organized transportation for mine victims from northern Albania to the rehabilitation center in Tirana and has arranged for the center to fit amputees with prostheses.[50]

In Croatia, following the receipt of funds from Canada, the GICHD has been requested by the Croatian Mine Action Center to conduct an evaluation in September 2001 to look at the state of mine awareness.[51] As a result of the recent fighting in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the ICRC conducted a needs assessment in June 2001 in order to assess the extent of the UXO problem. A UXO awareness program is reportedly being developed by the ICRC in collaboration with the Macedonian Red Cross.[52]

In Kosovo, after the early proliferation of mine awareness programs, the UN Mine Action Coordination Center (MACC) reinforced its coordinating role to include accreditation of mine awareness organizations working in Kosovo. In 2000, it became a MACC requirement that mine awareness be included as an element of all clearance tasks, on the basis that awareness has a role before, during and after clearance. This role is fulfilled by “Mine Action Support Teams.”[53] All mine awareness organizations were already required to meet specific accreditation standards prior to project implementation. The MACC monitors mine awareness programs and maintains a database that helps investigation of new casualties and future planning, and feeds into the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) Mine Awareness Module.

In Central Asia, in June-July 2001, the GICHD conducted a mine awareness and advocacy assessment mission on behalf of the UNICEF Area Office in Almaty. The assessment covered three countries—Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan—but as of going to press the findings and recommendations of the mission were not publicly available. The ICRC was planning to conduct a mine awareness needs assessment in Tajikistan in summer 2001 using expertise from its Moscow delegation.

In the Middle East and North Africa, programs have been implemented in Iran (in Kurdistan province), Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria (including the Golan Heights) and Yemen. In Lebanon, following Israel’s withdrawal from the south, a number of actors including Hezbollah, the ICRC, the Landmines Resource Center, the Lebanese Red Cross, Rädda Barnen, UNESCO and UNICEF have conducted mine awareness activities, including emergency interventions. In Libya, it is reported that the authorities have provided mine awareness training that may include training in mine clearance.

In Egypt, mine awareness activities by the Landmine Struggle Center, the sole NGO conducting mine awareness education in affected areas, have been curtailed due to lack of funds. The ICRC has started collecting data on mine and UXO casualties in southern Iraq as a preliminary step toward defining an appropriate mine awareness strategy. In 2000, the ICRC held discussions with the local authorities and the Iraqi Red Crescent on the object of the data collection, on future plans for mine awareness activities and in an effort to reach an agreement with the government and the next step was to be an in-depth needs assessment, scheduled for July 2001. In the Western Sahara, a mine awareness education program conducted by NPA ended in May 2000. According to the UN Peace Plan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will be responsible for providing mine awareness prior to the planned repatriation of Sahrawi refugees.

International Developments 

As part of the ongoing process of professionalization of mine awareness, a number of significant developments have taken place internationally, many led by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN focal point for mine awareness education. In September 2000, following the adoption by the UN of the International Guidelines on Mine and Unexploded Ordnance Awareness Education,[54] UNICEF presented “preview” copies of two UN Mine Awareness Training Modules to the Second Meeting of States Parties. The training modules, which were funded by the United States Department of State, each comprise a trainers’ guide and resource manual. One module focuses on Mine Awareness Program Managers, who have overall responsibility for planning and implementing mine awareness activities in a given context. The second is devoted to the training of “Community Facilitators”—the individuals who will actually be conducting mine awareness activities at the community level.

In May 2001, however, the UNICEF Global Focal Point for Landmines said that the use of the modules had been suspended, on the basis that there had been insufficient participation in their development.[55] UNICEF subsequently declared that the modules were used to train trainers in North Caucasus in September 2000 but “are now being reviewed as part of the development of the International Standards for Landmine and UXO Awareness/Risk Reduction Education.”[56] At the same time, UNICEF stated that it would “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.”[57] It is not clear how these “how to” manuals relate to the existing resource manuals included in the training modules.

In addition, UNICEF, which is in the process of reviewing its mine action strategy,[58] has announced its intention to develop Guidelines for the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of Mine Awareness Programs and International Standards for Landmine and UXO Awareness/Risk Reduction Education Programs.[59] The Standards, which will be elaborated within the context of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS),[60] will replace the existing UN Guidelines and the Monitoring and Evaluation Guidelines will become Technical Notes to the Standards.[61] UNICEF declared its intention to set up a working group to guide the process of standard development; a first meeting was tentatively planned to take place in Geneva toward the end of August 2001.[62]

The UN Mine Action Service, in cooperation with UNICEF, commissioned CARE to prepare a Landmine and UXO Safety Handbook, and an accompanying video and training module. These will be used to provide security briefings in affected countries to UN staff, peacekeepers and NGOs about the dangers of landmines and UXO.

Handicap International has also been active in promoting the development of mine awareness, notably through the publication of its Mine Risk Education (MRE) Guide 2001. The Guide, which is “to be considered as an accompanying tool, covering a broad spectrum of MRE project functions and activities[,] ... represents a distillation of Handicap International (France & Belgium) experience in implementing this type of educational program over a period of nearly a decade in seven countries around the world.”[63] The Guide is divided into four sections—“Preliminary” (exploratory mission), “Setting up human and technical resources” (partnerships, local personnel recruitment, training, and messages), “Deployment” (communication, data collection, monitoring, and data base), and “Extensions” (capacity building, assessment, and capitalization).

On 7 March 2001, at the ICBL General Meeting, a four-year plan for the Mine Awareness Sub-Group (of the ICBL Mine Action Working Group) was adopted with the following objectives: to promote improvements in the quality of mine awareness programs; to advocate for and maintain higher profile of mine awareness in Standing Committee meetings and Meetings of States Parties and mine action community in general; to advocate and provide guidance to the international community as to where/what and how mine awareness is needed; and to advocate and encourage development of more programs and improved sustainability of programs.[64]

The Sub-Group’s agenda for the first year has been: to improve cooperation between ICBL agencies, UNICEF, UNMAS, ICRC, and try to come up with a joint approach at the Third Meeting of States Parties; to encourage clarification of respective mandates and activities (UNICEF, ICRC and GICHD in particular); to gather, synthesize and present working group members’ inputs in different fora; to launch a Code of Conduct on the sharing of mine awareness tools, and follow it up; to serve as an alert system for all ICBL mine awareness agencies; and to improve the sharing of information (Aden Workshop, lessons learned, resource center database).

The Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Process 

To date, the MBT intersessional Standing Committee (SC) meetings have played a relatively low-key role in the development of mine awareness, which is grouped with victim assistance as it is in Article 6 of the Mine Ban Treaty. A proposal has been put forward to move mine awareness to the SC on Mine Clearance and Related Technologies;[65] the Third Meeting of States Parties will decide whether or not to approve this. The ICBL Mine Awareness Sub-Group has expressed a wish for more time to be accorded in the SC meetings to discussing mine awareness;[66] the co-chairs and co-rapporteurs of the respective SC will have to decide how to proceed. During the May 2001 SC meetings, UNICEF organized a first interagency mine awareness user focus group (UFG) under UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) auspices. The originally stated objectives of the UFG were to “provide a mechanism for inter-agency cooperation, in order to support the development of: better quality mine awareness/risk reduction programs; greater capacity to respond to mine awareness/risk reduction needs, especially in emergencies; models of mine action in which all components are integrated, mutually reinforcing, and sustainable; links between mine action and other sectors of humanitarian and development work.”[67] It was planned to convene the second meeting of the group, subsequently renamed the Mine Awareness Working Group and convened as a subcommittee of the Steering Committee on Mine Action, in Managua around the Third Meeting of States Parties.[68]

The Use of Media in Mine Awareness

Increasing attention has been paid in 2000-2001 to the use of media, tools and materials in mine awareness. These are often the backbone of any program, despite doubts as to their pedagogic effectiveness and cost efficiency. In November 2000, with a view to addressing these wider strategic issues, the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) initiated a study of the use of media and materials in mine awareness programs, focusing on three countries/contexts—Cambodia, Kosovo, and Nicaragua. It is expected that the study, which is funded by the US Department of State, will be published by the end of 2001.

On 19-22 February 2001, Rädda Barnen (Save the Children Sweden) organized in Aden, Yemen, an International Workshop on the Design of Materials, Resources and Other Media in Mine Awareness Programs (the Aden Workshop). The Aden Workshop, which was attended by 35 participants from 20 countries, sought to discuss the design of all forms of media (that is, all tools and resources, and not only mass media) used in mine awareness programs. Through a combination of presentations, working groups and plenary discussions, the workshop sought to exchange experiences, draw together lessons learned and identify unmet needs, with a view to strengthening the effectiveness of future programming.[69]

A summary report of the workshop identified 14 key lessons, including that community participation in mine awareness is essential to the effectiveness and the sustainability of the program; adaptation of materials from one context to another is not recommended; field-testing of resources, tools, media and materials is essential prior to their widespread dissemination; and an effective improvement in mine awareness programs demands greater coordination and operational support internationally and locally.[70]

HI informed the Aden Workshop of progress in its ongoing in-house evaluation of mine risk education tools from its programs in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Senegal. The evaluation is looking at whether the tools managed to create a sustainable educative dynamic within the community, and considers the appropriateness of the messages and the conduit for their transmission. Methodology is based on interviews and an analytical workshop. The results are due to be published before the end of 2001.[71]

HI also indicated its intention to pursue the adoption of a code of conduct on ethics on “how to share tools,” out of a concern about the misappropriation of awareness or educational materials.[72] A draft code of conduct, circulated in April 2001, laid down five conditions for an organization to share the concept of its mine awareness tools with another organization:

  1. The tool is transferable and will be used in a strategy adapted and respectful of its original function;
  2. The organization interested in all or part of the tool makes a written request to the “parent organization;”
  3. The organization, which borrows all or part of the tool, clearly quotes the source on the new material;
  4. The organization, which borrows all or part of the tool, undertakes to send one specimen of the new tool to the “holder organization” headquarters; and
  5. The organization which borrows all or part of the tool, undertakes to re-field test the tool in the new context and provides a copy of the results to the parent organization.

<Casualties and Assistance | Funding>

[36] See “Case Study of Kosovo,” Appendix 1, A Study of Socio-Economic Approaches to Mine Action,” (Geneva: UN Development Program and Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining, March 2001), pp. 106-107 and 114-115.
[37] UNICEF contribution to Landmine Monitor—Appendices, undated but received 13 July 2001.
[38] Information provided by Hugues Laurence, MRE Coordination Officer, HI, Lyon.
[39] Information provided by Stan Brabant and Véronique Royen, HI, Brussels, June 2001.
[40] ICRC contribution to Landmine Monitor—Appendices, 1 June 2001.
[41] For further information on mine awareness in Kosovo see “An Analytical Review of the State of Mine Awareness,” in the appendices to this edition of the Landmine Monitor.
[42] Information provided in email from Stan Brabant, Head, Mines Unit, HI-Belgium, 24 July 2001.
[43] See Lionel Dyck and Bob Macpherson, “An Outline for Mine Awareness Action,” Journal of Mine Action, Issue 4.3, Fall 2000, pp. 24-28.
[44] Information provided by UNICEF, 10 May 2001.
[45] Aparna Swaminatham et al., “Angola Mine Awareness Evaluation: Summary,” UNICEF, DFAIT and CIET, 31 July 2000. See the report on Angola in this edition of the Landmine Monitor.
[46] Letter by Esperanza de Morales, President of the Nicaragua Red Cross, to Landmine Monitor, 12 January 2001. See ICRC, “ICRC mine/UXO awareness programs worldwide,” at <>, updated 20 April 2001. Information contained in the report on Nicaragua in this edition of the Landmine Monitor.
[47] Information contained in the report on Azerbaijan in this edition of the Landmine Monitor.
[48] Laurence Desvignes, “The International Committee of the Red Cross Mine/UXO Awareness Programs,” Journal of Mine Action, Issue 4.3, Fall 2000, p. 7.
[49] See “ICRC mine/UXO awareness programs worldwide,” available at: <>, accessed on 19 July 2001.
[50] Ibid.
[51] Information provided by Eric Filippino, Head, Socio-Economic Study Group, GICHD, 15 July 2001.
[52] Information provided by the ICRC, 11 July 2001; see report on FYROM in this edition of the Landmine Monitor.
[53] For further details see “An Analytical Review of the State of Mine Awareness,” in the appendices to this edition of the Landmine Monitor.
[54] The International Guidelines were formally presented to the international community at the First Meeting of States Parties in May 1999.
[55] Remarks during the UNICEF/UNMAS User Focus Group on Mine Awareness, Geneva, 10 May 2001.
[56] UNICEF contribution to Landmine Monitor—Appendices, undated, but received 13 July 2001.
[57] Ibid.
[58] UNICEF has stated that in 2001 it has “embarked on a consultative process with other mine action stakeholders in order to further define its role and to develop a mine action strategy. The consultation is due to be completed by the [end] of 2001, and will complement the UN interagency 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 contribution to Landmine Monitor—Appendices, undated but received 13 July 2001.
[59] UNICEF contribution to Landmine Monitor—Appendices, undated but received 13 July 2001. See also Landmine Monitor Report 2000, pp. 39-40.
[60] Remarks during the UNICEF/UNMAS User Focus Group on Mine Awareness, Geneva, 10 May 2001.
[61] UNICEF contribution to Landmine Monitor—Appendices, undated but received 13 July 2001.
[62] Email from Polly Brennan, UNICEF Global Focal Point for Landmines, 11 July 2001.
[63] Letter from Bill Howell and Hugues Laurenge, HI, Lyons, 20 July 2001.
[64] See <> for further information about the ICBL Mine Awareness Sub-Group.
[65] Report of the Meeting of the Meeting of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Socio-Economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness, 7-8 May 2001, Geneva, para. 24.
[66] Ibid.
[67] Draft Terms of Reference for Mine Awareness User Focus Group, attached to email from Polly Brennan, UNICEF Global Focal Point for Landmines, 11 April 2001.
[68] Email from Polly Brennan, UNICEF Global Focal Point for Landmines, 11 July 2001.
[69] Summary Report of the International Workshop on the Design of Materials, Resources and Other Media in Mine Awareness Programs, Rädda Barnen, Beirut, May 2001.
[70] Ibid..
[71] Presentation by Hugues Laurenge, MRE Coordination Officer, HI, Lyons, to the Aden Workshop, 19 February 2001.
[72] Ibid, 22 February 2001.