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Azerbaijan: Safe-play areas project on track

14-06-2005 News Release 05/49

Last week the ICRC and Azerbaijan's National Agency for Mine Action held a four-day workshop near Baku to raise awareness of the risk posed by mines. The event was part of an ICRC project to create safe play areas in villages near former conflict zones in Azerbaijan.

Fifteen members of the Red Crescent Society of Azerbaijan took part.

" Ten years after the ceasefire in the Nagorny Karabakh conflict, mines are still an extremely serious problem in Azerbaijan, " said Musa Jalalov, head of mine-risk education at the National Agency for Mine Action. " Our studies have led us to designate 11 areas as high-risk, 101 as medium-risk and 970 as suspicious. " The workshop represented a first step in what was to be three-way cooperation between the ICRC, the National Agency and the Azerbaijani Red Crescent. This cooperation will enhance the Agency's existing mine-awareness work and help reduce the number of mine victims, especially children. Mine-risk education in high-risk areas is one of the Agency's main activities.

Fifteen safe play areas would be created this year, said Herbi Elmazi, ICRC coordinator for the project. " We're helping to gradually build up the mine-education capacity of the Azerbaijani Red Crescent, " he added. The project will involve working together with local communities, helping them to identify the specific mine problems they face and to protect themselves. The Red Crescent will play a key role in the work with those communities.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Gulnaz Guliyeva, ICRC Baku, tel. +99 412 465 63 34 or +99 412 440 62 22  

 Annick Bouvier, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 24 58