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Former Yugoslavia: facing up to the danger of mines

14-08-1996 News Release 96/32

Every month, mines in former Yugoslavia continue to kill and maim the unwary. It is therefore crucial to warn people of the potential danger they face when moving around.

At the beginning of the year, the ICRC launched a major mine-awareness campaign to alert the largest possible number of people in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. It is now following up with a second phase which, besides a visual approach with posters and a radio and TV media campaign, also consists of community training for population groups most at risk.

These groups include displaced people who return to places from which they had fled, farmers who hav e no choice but to work in the fields and children who might venture into dangerous areas, even though they have been told to be careful and stay away.

To help keep the population mine-conscious in the long term, the ICRC is beginning to train mine-awareness field officers based throughout the region. In Croatia, these field officers will train local Red Cross volunteers to work within the community, whereas in Bosnia they will themselves take the message to the most vulnerable population groups.

To ascertain the actual danger that mines represent for the population, the field officers will also collect data from communities about the number of accidents, where they took place and the type of risks the victims had taken when they were injured or killed by a mine.

" Although the conflict has ended, mines will remain a very real danger for years to come " , said Norman Farrell, ICRC diss emination delegate in Bosnia. " This programme is a vital step towards developing a sustainable community-based approach which, by heightening the population's awareness of mines, will help to save lives in the future. "