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Azerbaijan/Nagorny Karabakh: ICRC mine action

31-10-2002

Community-based mine/unexploded ordnance awareness programme

The ICRC has pursued a mine/unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness programme (MAP) in Nagorno Karabakh (NK) from 1999 until the present day (spring 2002). This programme aims to change people's behaviour in order to prevent mine and UXO-related accidents and targets high-risk population groups such as children and residents of rural communities, particularly agricultural workers. All ICRC MAP activities are conducted in close coordination with the NK Mine-Awareness Working Group (MAWG), which includes representatives from all the relevant ministries involved with mine issues, as well from the British NGO, the Halo Trust.

There are three principal projects that make up the ICRC's Mine-Awareness Programme (MAP) in NK: (1) MA School Programme (including " child-to-child " activities), (2) Community Based Mine Awareness (CBMA) and (3) Public Education Campaign (PEC). The School Programme focuses on MA activities targeting children, in which mine awareness lessons have been integrated into the school curriculum. The CBMA targets the rural population residing in villages surrounded by mined/UXO contaminated areas.

 1. MA School Programme  

Before the actual launch of the MA School Programme, the ICRC conducted some preliminary MA activities with children and teachers. In May 2000, the ICRC organised 34 presentations of the puppet show " Danger Mines! " for 10'400 children in the communities most affected by the mine/UXO problem. Such presentations aimed to show children the correct behaviour in case they encounter mines or unexploded ordnance (UXO). Additionally, as part of these presentations, children were asked diff erent questions before and after the puppet shows with the aim to find out what they know (or what they had learned) about mines/UXOs and the correct behaviour with regard to such devices.

During the summer of 2000, meetings were held with teachers in order to introduce the concept of the MA School Programme, as well as to gather teachers'ideas for the programme itself, for the development of a MA school curriculum and for the production of MA school materials.

In August of 2000, 113 teachers from all regions of NK participated in four 3-day Train-the-Trainer seminars, with the aim to transfer the skills necessary to conduct MA lessons/activities in the classroom.

Since September 2000, the ICRC has cooperated closely with the NK Ministry of Education to ensure that lessons describing the danger of mines/UXOs are presented to all school children in Nagorno Karabakh. These lessons aim to teach children how to behave correctly in mine affected areas in order to reduce the incidences of mine accidents. In total, MA lessons have been integrated into the curriculum of 228 schools, reaching approximately 22'000 students. Since the training of teachers and the integration of MA lessons into the curriculum of secondary schools, the ICRC has visited schools on a regular basis in order to evaluate MA lessons, as well as to conduct periodic seminars with teachers and to distribute teaching materials to support instruction.

During the autumn of 2000, standard kits with MA teaching aids (including MA school curriculum, copy books with warning messages, photos of mines/UXOs, as well as posters describing safe and unsafe areas/objects) were distributed in 220 schools throughout NK. Since the beginning of the 2001/2002 school year, the ICRC has been conducting a second distribution of MA teaching materials IN 228 schools.

In March and autumn of 2001 and during the winter 2001/2002, the ICRC actively monitored MA lessons at 37 schools in different regions of NK.

 Child-to-Child Projects  

In order to reinforce the mine-awareness message taught in schools, during the summer of 2001 the ICRC and the NK Ministry of Education decided to establish a network of youth puppet groups from different villages of Nagorno Karabakh. During June and July, the ICRC organised specialised training for children from eight villages in the Hadrout, Martouni, Mardakert and Askeran Regions. With each puppet group being made up of 15 children, they were taught how to develop a scenario integrating mine-awareness themes, construct puppets and props, as well as perform puppet shows. In total, 120 children were trained as puppeteers.

The eight newly trained groups organised puppet shows at different summer camps in August, reaching about 560 children. At the end of August 2001, the ICRC organised a Puppet Festival in Stepanakert, at which all eight puppet groups participated. More than 500 children and adults attended this festival.

During the autumn of 2001, the ICRC travelled to remote villages in the Hadrout and Shoushi Regions in order to monitor the school programme, as well as to organise a tour of the youth puppet groups in those villages particularly affected by the mine problem. Puppet shows were performed in 15 schools (11 in the Hadrout Region and 4 in the Shoushi Region), reaching about 600 children.

So as to enhance the ability of mine-awareness lessons to influence the behaviour of children, the ICRC initiated another " child-to-child " project in July 2001. The ICRC conducted a seminar for 20 youth instructors (grades 7-8) from different regions of Nagorno Karabakh. They were trained in mine-awareness skills so that they may assist teachers in their work with the youngest students, as well as conduct min e-awareness activities outside of school with other children and adults

 2. Community Based Mine Awareness (CBMA)  

The ICRC's Community Based Mine Awareness (CBMA) Programme aims to reinforce the information available to local communities on the presence and danger of mines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) in and around their villages.

Different meetings with the population in local communities were held during the summer of 2000 with the aim to identify what people know about the existing danger from mines/UXO in their immediate living environment. After such consultations, the ICRC concluded that one of the key components of any CBMA in NK would be the production and distribution of " white-boards " . Such signs would be placed in mine-affected areas and display a preventive message to warn residents of the presence of mines/UXOs. Since the start of this project in mid-2000, the ICRC, in cooperation with the NK Civil Defence, has distributed 95 white-boards throughout the territory of Nagorno Karabakh.

During the autumn of 2001, efforts were made to monitor all the white boards which had been previously installed, in order to evaluate their functioning in local communities, as well as to determine additional needs.

 3. Public Education Campaign (PEC)
 

During the period 1999-2001, the ICRC produced 6 MA video spots in cooperation with a local TV crew provided by Karabakh State TV. These 6 spots were broadcast regularly on NK TV (generally once every 2 months, with one spot shown per day) and reached an estimated 50'000 to 60'000 residents of NK.

 4.  Victim related statistics  

    

In Nagorno Karabakh, the demining, the investigation of minefields and the destruction of unexploded ordinance is ongoing. All of these activities are co-ordinated by the members of the governmental Mine Awareness Working Group, the ICRC and the British NGO "The Halo Trust" . Active support to the ERS (Emergency Rescue Services) for conducting mine clearance is provided by representatives of the Armenian Missionary Association in Stepanakert. The following table provides information about mine incidents in NK during the period 1999-2001 (01.01.2002).

 No  

 Designation  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

  Reduction*  

1

Number of incidents

21

12

12

0

2

Number of victims

30

15

18

-20%

 

children

13

2

0

100%

3

Number of people killed

8

4

4

0

 

children

3

0

0

0

* in comparison with the year 2000

 By Regions:  

    

 No  

    

 Regional Names  

 Number of incidents  

 Number of victims  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 1999  

 2000  

 2001  

 adults  

 children  

 adults  

 children  

 adults  

 children  

1

Hadrout Region

5

3

0

2

7

3

0

0

0

2

Martouni Region

8

3

3

10

1

3

0

3

0

3

Martakert Region

5

3

2

2

3

5

1

3

0

4

Askeran Region

3

3

6

4

1

2

1

11

0

5

Shushi Region

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

 

 Totals  

 21  

 12  

 12  

 18  

 12  

 13  

 2  

 18  

 0  

    

The table shows the decrease in mine incidents and victims, which is the result of the active efforts of all the above-mentioned members. Individual cases are caused by the careless behaviour of some persons. For example, two family members, having discovered an antipersonnel mine in their garden, decided to disassemble it and, due to the explosion, both were injured.

In case of any mine incident, the NK government provides financial support to the family. During 2002, four families received such financial assistance.

 (Text by the Head of the Mine Awareness Working Group, Mr. Hakobjanian)  
 
 
 
ICRC activities in Nagorno Karabakh from January to June 2002 
 
In Nagorny Karabakh's front-line areas, organizations concerned with mine action, working together with affected communities, have managed to reduce the number of accidents caused by anti-personnel mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Further efforts are necessary to heighten people's awareness of the risk -- with their readiness to communicate, children are particularly suited to conveying the message -- and allow mine-clearance teams to make contaminated areas safe.

Over the first half of 2002, the ICRC expanded the scope of its community-based mine awareness programme , whose cornerstone had been the distribution of billboards with mine-awareness messages. The ICRC initiated a comprehensive project with the NK Emergency Rescue Services (ERS) to train a network of Civil Defence representatives in community based mine-awareness skills. They, in turn, will co-operate with mine-affected communities in order to reinforce information available to villagers - particularly to agricultural workers - and to ensure that such information is indeed used correctly by the population. The ICRC organized a two-day " train-the-trainers " seminar in mid-June for 12 regional civil defence representatives. In June, the ICRC and the Nagorny Karabakh Emergency Rescue Services/Civil Defence (NK ERS/CD) signed a cooperation agreement regarding the transfer of responsibility for all community-based mine-awareness activities and for the public education campaign, to the NK ERS/CD.

The ICRC completed its project to distribute bill boards with mine awareness mesages and handed the full responsibility for the maintenance of all boards to the NK ERS/CD. By June 2002, a total of 100 boards had been put up in and around 46 communities, for a population of about 42,000 people.

In support of community-based activities in rural areas, the ICRC and the ERS designed and printed 1,000 copies of a new mine awareness poster "Types of Mines" .

In 2002, the ICRC also aims to support the British NGO HALO Trust in carrying out minefield marking and demining activities in Nagorny Karabakh. The first part of the ICRC's support, including the donation of first-aid supplies and minefield marking materials, was delivered during the second quarter.

As part of the ICRC's mine awareness activities for schoolchildren , mine awareness lessons have been integrated into the curriculum of 228 schools across Nagorny Karabakh (as well as in the Lachin and Kelbajar Regions), reaching an estimated 22,000 children. In support of these lessons, the ICRC continued to distribute sets of school materials, delivering materials to a total of 64 schools in the Askeran and Lachin Regions.

In order to reinforce the information and advice provided to children through MA lessons, the ICRC designed and printed 1,000 copies of a Mine-Awareness Game Resource Book , which provides a description of 11 MA games that teachers may use with children from grades 1 to 8. The ICRC also produced 500 copies of a Mine-Awareness Game Board , which is to be used in conjunction with the resource book.

To introduce these new teaching materials, the ICRC organized four mine awareness seminars for 113 teachers and representatives from the Regional Educational Departments in the Martuni, Askeran, Martakert and Shushi Regions. The participants received additional resource materials, including new poster on the theme of "What to Do If You See a Mine" .