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Bosnia and Herzegovina: working for a safer neighbourhood

09-10-2002

How the ICRC works with communities to raise awareness of the dangers of mines and other explosive debris of war.

 Contents:  

    Introduction    |      ICRC community-based mine/unexploded ordnance awareness programme    |      Past activities    |      Statistics on mine/UXO victims: Bosnia and Herzegovina  
     

 Mine awareness competitions in Bosnia-Herzegovina  

Mine awareness of the ICRC and the Red Cross in BiH is undertaking series of activities, which are implemented by the network of 96 instructors employed in each municipality throughout the country. One of these activities was recently carried out with a great success. Namely, Red Cross in cooperation with the ministries of education of the two Bosnian entities successfully organized mine awareness competitions for the elementary school children.

   
Summary 
 

  Mine awareness instructor doing mine awareness to new returnees at their homes in Rastosnica village, Tuzla.  
ref. BA-N-00013-26
 
 

In March 1996, in response to the more than 3,346 men, women, and children injured or killed from landmines and UXO's during the conflict and in t he immediate post-conflict period, ICRC launched an intensive emergency campaign which has evolved into an extensive Mine Awareness Program in an operational partnership with two main entities red crosses which form the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzgovina (RCSBiH). Since 1996, a total of 128 mine awareness instructors have been trained in the Bosnia and Herzgovina Red Cross Society with currently 96 instructors based in local red cross offices throughout the country with two coordinators and 8 mine awareness supervisors who monitor and report overall activities. Children have, in the past, been one of the main target populations. A recent evaluation contracted by ICRC for its Mine Awareness program in Bosnia and Herzgovina (early 2002) indicates that males between the ages of 17 and 39 are still one of the highest risk groups, particularly those who, for economic and other reasons, engage in income earning or other activities in mine-affected areas. Returnees - persons who were displaced during the war and are returning to their homes or original place of residence - remain a deep concern and are also one of the most affected groups. 

From a high of over 600 mine victims per year, mine victims have been reduced to approximately 100 per year through the Mine Awareness programs conducted by ICRC and other organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Current mine victims for the country number 4,771 (as of December 2002) (see detailed tables below). Minefields in the country are still estimated to number a minimum of 18,600 with up to 30% still unaccounted for. With former frontlines crossing main roads, urban strees and rural homes and farms, the continued prevalence of mines in remains a very high concern and will impact the residents of Bosnia and Herzegovina for years to come. 

Through the network of the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzgovina, which has 165 local red cross offices throughout the country, ICRC and RCSBiH have one of the most comprehensive capacities to collect and maintain a database on mine victims in local communities. This information is shared with all partners and stakeholders in the country regularly (see statistics in this report). ICRC advocates strongly for integrated programs in Mine Action--those which include Mine Awareness with other Mine Action activities--to include mine victim assistance and demining. ICRC refers mine victims who require post-surgical or other assistance to local red cross branches or other organizations who provide direct assistance to mine victims. ICRC and the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzegovina provide personnel or materials, or both, for mine awareness activities in conjunction to demining of local minefields. 

ICRC's focus in Mine Awareness activities in Bosnia-Herzegovina include data collection and analysis, mass-media campaigns, school programs (both for students and teachers), and community level awareness activities. One very special area of Red Cross concentration has been the integration of Mine Awareness curriculum and activities into the school systems to insure ongoing, long term capacity to educate each successive age group entering the BiH school system in the risks and preventative behavior. To this end, an ongoing collaboration with the Ministries of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports continues up through this date (2002). 

ICRC is proceeding in its goals to handover the program to the Red Cross Society of Bosnia and Herzgovina through 2003 who is expected to adapt and modify the program to meet the changing needs which have been identified through the recent 2002 Mine Awareness Evaluation results as well as future adhoc surveys and analysis of the database information system. ICRC, with RCSBiH, coordinates with government, international organizations, and other local partners to meet the humanitarian needs of mine-affected communities and mine victims, to include UNDP, Intern ational Trust Fund (ITF), Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC), Ministries of Education, SFOR, APM (Action Against Mines) and other local organizations. 

The recent Demining Strategy for Bosnia and Herzgeovina (2002) provides additional opportunities to insure that Mine Awareness education is integrated into ongoing Mine Action and to coordinate with government and non-government actors who work with the government as it seeks to implement the Ottawa Treaty in all aspects of assistance to mine victims, demining, mine awareness education, and socio-economic reintegration.

 
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ICRC community-based mine/unexploded ordnance awareness programme 
 

  Mine awareness poster produced from a child's drawing. 
 

In its sixth year in 2002, the ICRC Mine Awareness program in Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to focus on four main components: data collection & analysis, and dissemination, community level mine awareness programs, school programs, and mass media campaigns. Community level activit ies focus on formal and informal presentations, to include targeting high risk groups in local pubs or other gathering adult or teenage places. In 2001 alone, a total of 4,398 presentations were held and 5,603 " discussion groups " conducted with 170,644 adult and child participants throughout the country. Through August 2002, 1,562 presentations and 3,231 " discussion groups " were conducted for 64,000 participants. The change in these numbers reflect the recent evaluation which ICRC conducted in early 2002 to 1) determine overall public awareness of the risks of mines and 2) most effective mediums for reaching the highest risk target groups. ICRC and its local Red Cross partner will be modifying the overall Mine Awareness program in late 2002 to focus on the highest risk groups (adult males, engaged in woodcutting, forestry and other activities) and the most effective ways of reaching these individuals while maintaining traditional activities for other age groups to maintain a level of awareness and preventative behavior. While males continue to be the overall highest risk group, the last two successive years have shown a marked increase in adult women.

Materials production from the onset of the program has focussed on printed materials and messages on day-to-day objects which members of the community use daily, such as work gloves, t-shirts, pens, pencils, school notebooks. Special poster campaigns have been conducted together with TV and radio messages to maintain public awareness. Strong vegetable bags for agricultural workers have been printed with Mine messages to remind people in the fields to watch out for landmines and unexploded ordnances while picking ripe vegetables from the fields. 

 
Data Collection, Analysis, and Dissemination 
The ICRC, in close cooperation with the RCSBiH, is the only organization in Bosnia and Herzegovia which systematically collects and publishes data on mine victims. The RCSBiH network of staff and volunteers follow up all formal and informal reports on mine/UXO accidents in their community. They obtain details on victims, circumstances of the incident, location and other information to submit to NS coordinators who, in turn, submit them to ICRC. ICRC adds them to the database which is updated regularly. ICRC uses the information internally to plan and implement direct targeted messages to certain high risk groups and their locations in the country. Data is shared with all formal and informal relationships in Bosnia and Herzegovina as an ongoing contribution to the overall humanitarian efforts to reduce the risks of landmines and unexploded ordnances to men, woman, and children of the country. ICRC and RCSBiH conduct more concentrated survey of specific groups at different times to evalauate and re-evaluate the overall situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, assess the effectiveness of programs, and define effective campaigns and messages. 
ICRC Support to Ministries of Education, Science, Culture and Sports in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Secondary Schools) 
 

  Mine awareness poster 
 

Starting in 2000, ICRC and RCSBiH began work with the Ministry of Education Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to train teacher-trainers and prepare Mine Awareness curriculum for secondary school students. ICRC provided materials, technical information, and financial suppo rt for production of 22-page curriculum materials for all secondary schools. A total of 85 teachers were trained as trainers to train other teachers, 60 in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and 25 in Repulbic of Srbska. In 2001, an additional 64 teachers were trained as trainers in six of ten cantons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the request of the Ministry. In 2002, ICRC has collaborated extensively with representatives of the Republic of Srbska Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, and Sports for the formulation of their entity level mine awareness curriculum in Serbian language for secondary schools. The final curriclum package is expected to be finalized in October 2002. These activities are a continuation of initial ICRC-supported school programs in 1997 and 1998 which trained primary school teachers in mine awareness and mine awareness activities for children.

 
School Programs 
A variety of programs are conducted in individual schools based on the local community and needs which are identified at the local level. Games, quizzes, comic books, and interactive group sessions continue to be used with teachers and student groups. A Mine Awareness Newsletter for primary school children continues to be published 3-4 times a year in Zenica with a circulation of 10,000. It is published in Zenica for two cantons - Zenica-Doboj and Central Bosnia - and produced by RCSBiH mine awareness instructors with contributions from school children, teachers, and members of the mine-affected communities. These programs, together with ICRC-Ministry collaboration, are expected to institutionalize overall mine awareness activities in the education system to insure each successive age group has direct knowledge of mine awareness and preventative behavior information to reduce the risk of mine or UXO accidents for children. 
Nationwide Mine Awareness School Competitions 
Each year since 1999, over 500 schools have participated in a nationwide Mine Awareness Competition, the level of the consituent entities of the state. With school teams composed of three team members each, up to 1,500 students between the ages 9 - 12 compete each year in activities designed to demonstrate their knowledge of the danger of mines and unexploded ordnances and the correct preventative behavior in certain circumstances. Students compete on behalf of their school with winners at municipal, canton or regional levels, and entity levels. Winning teams and their schools receive prizes, with prizes for schools designed to contribute to the educational process, such as audio-visual equipment. In 2002, these competitions will continue during the school term of October - December 2002.  
Community-based activities 
Red Cross volunteers at the local community level identify local needs and design a response based on the locally-defined needs by gender, age groups, and other definitions of target populations. They respond to members of the community who may identify or request specific assistance. As members of the community, they are able to initiate ad hoc action towards the most high risk groups, such as refugees, returnees, associations of hunters and fisherman, agricultural workers, and other local residents. 
Media campaigns 
ICRC and RCSBiH continue to use all types of radio and t.v. exposure to highlight the risk of landmines and UXO's, to include talk shows, t.v. spots, interviews, quizzes, radio spots. In September 2002, ICRC is in the process of identifying specific radio programs a nd their listener publics for targetting more specific messages over the radio. 
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Past activities 
 

 Social-Drama and Video-Related Activities  

 
"Little Red Riding Hood" 
 

  Mine awareness in Republika Srpska using theater "Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf".
ref. BA-N-00006-16
 
 

 From late 1999-July 2000, A play based on "Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf"  for children in the 3 to 10 age group was being performed throughout with the full support of the entity Red Cross organizations and Ministries of Education. Over 120 performances were conducted for this age group, with promotional material such as comic books, songs and posters carrying MA messages distributed as part of the project. Based on the well-known story of Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, the play portrays the wolf as the bad character who is trying to lure the little girl into a minefield planted with mines in the form of flowers, toys, etc. A cicada sings songs containing mine awareness messages.

 
"Tarzan" Project 
 

  Child going to the movie "Tarzan".
Ref. BA-N-00005-26
 
 

 ICRC conducted the "Tarzan" project  in collaboration with UNICEF, UNDP, BHMAC and SFOR. Mine Awareness spots for children were shown and MA materials distributed prior to a showing of the Tarzan movie. With the consent of the Ministry of Education of both entities, the Obala Art Centre, acting as distributor, arranged further showings of the film for primary- and secondary-school children in both the Federation of BiH and Republika Srpska (the two constituent entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina). Schoolchildren saw it as part of their normal school curriculum (which includes two compulsory lessons on film culture). It was a highly effective means of targeting all schoolchildren with mine awareness messages. By the end of March 2000, some 140 000 children had seen the film and MA footage as a result of 902 projections in the Federation of BiH. The project was launched in Republika Srpska at the beginning of April 2000 and continued for 6 months. 

 







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Statistics on mine/UXO victims 
 

 Number of victims  

As of end of May 2002, the ICRC database contained information on 4,733  mine victims (injured or killed). As may be seen from the following table, the number of victims in BiH has been steadily declining. The largest number of victims in the post-conflict period was recorded in 1996, the first post-conflict year and also the first year of implementation of the mine awareness programme.

 Period/Year  

 Number of Victims  

1992-1995

 

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

Total after the war (1996 - 2002)

 

  Grand Total   

3346

 

632

290

149

95

100

87

72

 

1425

 

 4771  

 
 

 Seasonal variations  

Seasonal variations indicate periods of high risk for the population. Most of the accidents recorded occurred during spring (March to May) and late summer (July and August) as these are the months of peak agricultural activity. The majority of victims were injured while farming (rural males) and incurred the risk deliberately because of economic need.

 

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

 TOTAL per month  

January

64

15

13

15

3

5

5

120

February

34

17

9

9

7    

3

10

89

 March   

103

55

35

9

13

14

9

238

 April  

105

40

22

11

5

13

9

205

May 

60

32

15

7

8

8

5

135

June

58

30

10

4

10

10

3

125

 July  

57

27

11

7

13

13

3

131

August 

46

26

12

3

17

4

4

112

September

29

13

4

10

2

6

8

72

October

32

20

12

5

10

8

9

96

November

24

8

2

6

6

2

5

53

December

20

7

4

9

6

1

2

49

 Total  

 632  

 290  

 149  

 95  

 100  

 87  

 72  

 1425  

 Knowledge of the danger (percentage)  

    

    

 1992  

 1993  

 1994  

 1995  

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

  Yes  

12,7%

11,4%

14,0%

11,5%

18,2%

25,5%

34,9%

37,9%

26,0%

35,6%

41,6%

  No  

87,3%

88,6%

86,0%

88,5%

81,8%

74,5%

62,1%

62,1%

74,0%

64,4%

58,4%

Note: this table shows the precentage of people injured in areas they knew to be dangerous. Over the years, we can see an increase of the percentage of people injured in known dangerous areas. These accidents can be explained due to economic reasons, people don't have other alternative than to cultivate their land, cut the wood, etc.

 Number of victims by age at the time of the accident  

    

Age

Number of Victims

0-10

11-20

21-30

31-40

41-50

50-60

Over 60

Unknown

  Total  

71

294

285

249

227

130

106

63

 1425  

    

    

 Number of victims by age group  

    

    

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

Children (0-18 years)

151

55

22

19

29

12

19

Adults (19-39 years)

254

118

56

39

40

36

26

Adults (40-60 years)

158

84

44

25

24

23

22

Elderly (over 60 years)

40

20

17

10

7

7

5

Unknown

29

13

10

2

0

9

0

 
 

 Fatal and Non-fatal injuries per year  

    

    

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

 Fatal  

110

88

60

38

35

32

26

 Non fatal  

522

202

89

57

65

55

46

 Type of devices causing injuries or death  

    

    

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

 Mine  

 UXO (unexploded ordnance)

 IED (improvised explosive device)

 Unknown  

387

101

24

120

186

73

11

20

85

50

4

10

65

15

6

9

68

24

1

7

55

27

1

4

40

28

.2

2

In 1997 and 1998 the number of injuries caused by UXO (unexploded ordnance) and IED (improvised explosive devices) accounted for one third of the overall cause of accidents.

 Types of injury (1992 - 2002)  

    

    

 number of mine victims  

Foot amputation

Below knee amputation

Above knee amputation

Upper limbs amputation

Fragmentation wounds eye

Fragmentation wounds upper body/arms

Fragmentation wounds lower body/legs

634

1002

290

348

411

1285

1410

Note: The total does not correspond the total number of casualties because some of the victims have suffered more than one injury.

 Number of Victims - Civilian or Military  

    

    

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

 Military  

114

17

4

6

4

3

   0

 Civilian  

518

273

145

89

96

84

72

 Victims by gender  

    

    

 1992  

 1993  

 1994  

 1995  

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

  Male  

95,2%

93,7%

96,3%

96,4%

90,3%

90,3%

90,6%

93,7%

91,0%

87,4%

90,2%

  Female   

4,8%

6,3%

3,7%

3,6%

9,7%

9,7%

9,4%

6,3%

9,0%

12,6%

9,8%

    

 Casualties by origin  

    

    

 1996  

 1997  

 1998  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 2002  

 Internally displaced  

 Returnees  

 Local residents  

90

65

477

51

32

207

32

18

99

31

7

57

14

19

67

12

20

55

5

13

54

 Location of mine victims by canton/region  

    

 Region/Canton  

 Number of Victims  

Birac region

Bosnian Podrinje canton

Central Bosnia canton

Doboj region

East Herzegovina region

Herceg Bosnia canton

Hercegovina Neretvian canton

Krajina region

Mrkonjic Grad region

Old Hercegovina region

Posavina canton 

Prijedor region

Sarajevo canton

Sarajevo-Romanija region

Semberija, Majevica, Posavina region

Tuzla canton

Una Sana Canton

Western Hercegovina canton

Zenica-Doboj canton

 Total  

404

151

365

512

124

50

109

188

88

267

23

97

334

251

337

363

678

26

404

 4771