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Landmines victims: ICRC appeals for 18 million Swiss francs

06-06-1997 News Release 97/16

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today launched a Special Appeal for 18 million Swiss francs (12.24 million US dollars) to donor governments, supranational organizations, and Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The funds are to be used to provide greater assistance to the victims of anti-personnel landmines. They will be allocated to the ICRC's 19 prosthetic/orthotic projects   in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Georgia, Iraq and Rwanda, and to surgical programmes for mine victims in Afghanistan and Rwanda.

The appeal was launched today by Paul Grossrieder, ICRC Director of General Affairs, at a meeting in Geneva of Permanent Mission representatives. Mr Grossrieder stressed the urgent need to care for those who fall victim to the landmines epidemic and at the same time to strive for a total ban on this horrifying weapon.

In addition to raising funds for the ICRC's own programmes and activities, the Special Appeal is also intended to help mobilize financial support for the ICRC-administered Special Fund for the Disabled . Using the Special Fund , the ICRC regularly visits and assists many of the 26 projects it has handed over to local organizations, the ministries of health and social welfare, or specialized non-governmental organizations in 16 other countries, providing technical and material support where needed.

Landmines, recognized worldwide as having reached epidemic proportions, are responsible for the worst of all war wounds, usually causing survivors some form of permanent disability. Victims are left requiring a lifetime of rehabilitative care.

Child amputees outgrow their artificial limbs every six months; for adults, the replacement period is every three to five years. A 10-year-old amputee will need approximately 15  prostheses during his or her lifetime, each costing on average 180 Swiss francs. That amounts to 2,700 Swiss francs over the course of a lifetime -- an insurmountable cost in countries where the average per capita income may be only 15 to 25 Swiss francs per month.  In such cases, crutches are the only alternative.