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ICRC appeals for 20 million Swiss francs to help landmine victims

18-03-1998 News Release 98/09

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today launched a Special Landmines Appeal for 20,225,000 Swiss francs (13,815,000 US dollars) to governments, supranational organizations, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and private and public donors worldwide. The funds will be used to provide proper care for victims of landmines, reduce the risk of mine-related incidents, and promote universal adherence to and full implementation of the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel mines.

" Although the Ottawa treaty represents a prescription for ending the epidemic of mine injuries, the cure will require sustained and costly, long-term efforts, " stressed ICRC Mines Campaign coordinator Catherine Hubert during the meeting of Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva at which the appeal was launched.

More than 80% of the funds will be allocated to ICRC programmes which provide surgical care, medical assistance and physical rehabilitation for mine victims within the context of the organization's overall assistance to the war-wounded. The ICRC is about to open three new limb-fitting centres in Tajikistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. It also provides direct medical assistance to health facilities and appropriate training for nurses, doctors and surgeons treating mine victims. At present such programmes exist in Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

In cooperation with a number of National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC currently runs mine-awareness programmes in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Similar programmes are being drawn up in Angola, Georgia and Sudan. They aim to reduce the risk of mine-related death or injury by providing people in mine-affected areas with information on the precautions to be taken until the mines can be cleared.

The ICRC will also continue to promote the establishment of a " mines information system " in mine-affected countries, involving cooperation and the exchange of information among governments, NGOs, UN agencies, Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the ICRC itself. It includes standardized data collection, the promotion of humanitarian criteria for setting operational priorities in mine-affected areas, and cooperation among those engaged in mine clearance, assistance to victims, mine-awareness, and decision-making at government level.

The entire International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will do its utmost to ensure that the Ottawa treaty comes into force as quickly as possible. To date 124 States have signed the treaty, and five of them have ratified it. Forty ratifications are needed for it to come into force. The Movement w ill also actively promote the treaty among States which have not yet signed it.

The European Union (EU) has agreed to co-finance the 1998 ICRC Special Appeal. Every donation to the appeal results in an additional contribution from the EU. This will cover up to 40% of the value of donations received. A sum of 8 million Ecus (12.8 million Swiss francs) has been made available for this purpose.