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Israel and the occupied/autonomous territories: UXO-awareness activities in West Bank and Gaza Strip

13-06-2002 News Release 02/24

A recent ICRC assessment concluded that landmines or unexploded ordnance (UXO) represent a low-level but recurrent threat, associated with periods of increased military activity, for inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In April, for example, 18 casualties, eight of them children, were reported in and around Jenin refugee camp within one week. Two children were killed and three others injured by an unknown explosive device in Bethlehem on 1 May, and mine or UXO incidents are regularly reported in Gaza.

To alert people living in or returning to affected areas to this danger, and hence to reduce the risk of death or injury, the ICRC has launched community-based UXO-awareness projects. In June 2002 it will conduct three four-day training sessions for participants from all over the area on the dangers of UXO and mines in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. About 100 people, most of them Palestine Red Crescent Society volunteers, but also persons designated by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, will attend. Subsequently the participants will work to raise awareness of mines and UXO in their respective communities, with the help of communication tools provided by the ICRC. The project is being coordinated with UNICEF and relevant Palestinian ministries, and the Israeli authorities have also been informed.

The first training session, taking place in Hebron between 9 and 12 June, will be followed by sessions in Gaza and Jenin.

    

The project is backed up by large posters displayed in and around Jenin refugee camp with pictures of the explosive devices most likely to be found, so as to give the l ocal population an idea of what these dangerous objects look like. In addition, the ICRC is building two playgrounds in Jenin town in order to provide children and adolescents with safe areas to play.