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ICRC community-based mine/unexploded ordnance awareness programme in Peru

10-02-2003

 

Background 
 

The efforts of the ICRC and the Peruvian authorities raised mine awareness during 2002. Recent cases, together with the vulnerability of communities close to the 1,000 or so electricity pylons that are still mined, prompted campaigns to protect people against anti-personnel mines.

The National Commission for the Study and Application of International Humanitarian Law ( Comisión Nacional de Estudio y Aplicación del Derecho Internacional Humanitario , CONADIH) has been focusing on anti-personnel mines and UXO. The Commission put forward proposals for criminal legislation along the lines of the Ottawa Convention, but these were rejected. A working group entitled CONTRAMINAS has drawn up guidelines for a national plan to counter the dangers of anti-personnel mines. CONTRAMINAS includes representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Education, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Health and the National Commission for the Disabled ( Comisión Nacional para los Discapacitados , CONADIS), and is the body responsible for organizing and coordinating action against anti-personnel mines. The ICRC is coordinating and participating in meetings convened by CONTRAMINAS.

The ICRC ran a press campaign to raise awareness of the dangers posed by anti-personnel mines, particularly those laid near electricity pylons during the years of armed violence. In 10 newspaper articles and a television interview, the ICRC urged the State and the electricity companies to work for the demining of the country. The campaign was well received by the public and by the relevant authorities, especially the National Police ( Policía Nacional del Perú , PNP). The PNP is responsible for the question of mines and explosives, and the ICRC has good working relations with them.

 
Mine awareness 
 
General public 
 
  • During the first half of 2002, the ICRC placed features in leading media to make the public more aware of the dangers of mines and the importance of demining.

  • The ICRC also carried out mine-awareness programmes, with the support of the PNP and the Union of Communities of the Central Sierra of Peru ( Unidad de Comunidades de la sierra central del Perú, UCSICEP) in the following central sierra communities: Huayucachi, Cullhuas, Sapayanga, Pampas, Cocha, Tucuma, Mullaca, Carpapata, Wanqayqasa, Acostambo, Ñahuimpuquio, Pazos, Chuquitambo and Colcabamba. Over 7,000 people attended the puppet shows, talks and question-and-answer sessions.

  • Community leaders helped translate ICRC and PNP puppet theatre scripts and presentations into Quechua.

  • The delegation ran a photo competition on the theme of anti-personnel mines for the 2003 calendar.

    

 
Young people 
 
  • In November 2002, the ICRC made it possible for Fredy Mendoza – a young Peruvian mine victim – to travel to Santiago, Chile. He had been invited to attend the first meeting of young people against anti-personnel mines and an international seminar entitled “Working with Youth for a Mine-free World” ( Trabajando con la juventud por un planeta libre de minas ) organized by the ICBL (International Campaign to Ban Landmines).

  • In June 2002, the ICRC began a series of puppet theatre shows in two primary schools located near electricity pylons in the Nueva Esperanza district of Lima. Between 19 and 25 September, the ICRC visited 14 communities (over 7,000 people) in the departments of Junín and Huancavelica as part of the mine awareness campaign.

    

 
Authorities 
 
  • During 2001, the ICRC attended five mine destruction events organized by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the army. Peru has destroyed all 321,000 of its anti-personnel mines, fulfilling one of the requirements of the Ottawa Convention.

  • The ICRC has drawn the attention of the authorities to the need for demining on a number of occasions. It has also offered to support mine-awareness campaigns. The ICRC attends the CONTRAMINAS working meetings (of which there have been four so far) aimed at drafting a national mine-awareness plan.

  • One of the objectives was to encourage the authorities to undertake mine-awareness activities among the communities affected. The ICRC has been encouraging the authorities to establish a policy on humanitarian demining and has laid the foundations for such a policy through its awareness-raising work with the PNP and the public.

  • The joint ICRC/PNP community mine-awareness programme in the central sierra (using puppet theatre) was the first of its kind in Peru.

    

 
Helping the victims 
 

Another objective was to ensure that people injured by armed violence, mines or other explosive devices received appropriate treatment, including surgery, limb-fitting services and rehabilitation.

The families of these people cannot pay for treatment or rehabilitation, so the ICRC negotiates on behalf of the injured to obtain the medical care they need. Most of those affected are children.

During 2002, the ICRC helped 11 people injured by mines, of whom seven were new cases and four were people continuing treatment started previously.

In conjunction with the Instituto Nacional de Rehabilitación , the ICRC made a presentation to representatives of the ministries of health, education and defence, the Office of the Ombudsman and CONTRAMINAS on the statistics involved and the challenges facing the health services in their efforts to treat and rehabilitate mine victims. This information will serve as input to the national mine-awareness plan.