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Pakistan: Forgotten weapons continue to destroy lives

01-07-2004 News Release 04/79

A few weeks ago, 12-year-old Taha and nine-year-old Alida were tending cattle in the family fields adjacent to the village of Kunar, in northern Pakistan near the “line of control” between Pakistan-controlled and Indian-controlled Kashmir.

On that day, the familiar, age-old chore of herding cattle turned to horror when Taha stepped on an unexploded artillery shell.

The resulting detonation inflicted severe injuries to Taha’s abdomen and Alida’s leg. The children received first aid at the nearby army base and were then flown to the armed forces’ Combined Medical Hospital in Skardu. Though now out of danger, to resume a normal life both children need extensive treatment: reconstructive surgery, skin grafts and, in Alida’s case, help for her to learn to walk again. Taha and Alida are still at the military hospital but will soon be discharged and flown home.
 
The ICRC is advocating measures to ensure that victims of unexploded ordnance receive the treatment they need.
 
These deadly devices are scattered along the line of control in this remote part of the Himalayas. Thanks to the ceasefire agreed between Pakistan and India at the end of 2003, displaced people started returning to their villages this spring. Despite efforts to clear away unexploded ordnance, accidents still occur.
 
Working in close conjunction with the local authorities, the ICRC is currently assessing the situation with a view to launching programmes to raise awareness of the dangers posed by mines and other unexploded ordnance.

    

 For further information, please contact:  

 Frédéric Gouin, ICRC Islamabad, tel. +9251 282 47 80