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Bosnia-Herzegovina: the deadly threat

20-03-1996 News Release 96/11

With an estimated 2 to 3 million landmines and unexploded ordnance lying scattered throughout Bosnia-Herzegovina, the civilian population faces constant, grave danger. Many people have no choice but to live and work in areas which are heavily contaminated with these deadly devices, especially people close to the former confrontation line, where four years of war have rendered the ground an extremely dangerous place to set foot.

Among the most vulnerable groups are children, who often play in mined areas and who are tempted to pick up strange-looking objects if they are not made aware of the danger. Displaced people on the move and farmers are also easy targets for mines. Precise information about the number of civilians maimed or killed in mine accidents is not known.

The ICRC has launched a comprehensive mine-awareness campaign, in cooperation with the network of more than 150 local Red Cross branches, to inform the civilian population in all of Bosnia-Herzegovina about the threat. Citizens in all communities are being told how to avoid mines and whom to contact if a mine is found.

This emergency information programme consists of daily radio and TV spots sent out by local broadcasters as well as the distribution of 100,000 brochures and 10,000 posters to schools, community centres, various associations, public kitchens and medical facilities, in order to reach the greatest number of people.

The second phase of the mine-awareness campaign will begin next month when a mine expert arrives in Bosnia to conduct workshops with 150-200 local Red Cross volunteers, who will be taught how to disseminate information on landmines in their local communities.