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Namibia: Angolan refugees learn about the landmines threat

28-02-2006 News Release

In February 2006, the ICRC’s regional delegation for Southern Africa completed a mine risk education course for Angolan refugees in the Republic of Namibia.

The programme was launched in May 2003 to coincide with the voluntary repatriation of Angolan refugees after the end of the war, with a view to reducing death and injuries from unexploded ordnance when they returned.

Under the scheme, around 10,000 Angolan returnees were made aware of the dangers posed by mines and other unexploded devices which still litter their country, and how to avoid them. The 4,600 Angolan refugees who remain in Namibia, and whose repatriation is not yet scheduled, have also undergone mine risk education. Angola is a country considered one of the worst affected by mines in the world.

In order to asses the effectiveness of its programme, the ICRC conducted random interviews in Osire refugee camp. The findings showed that the refugees had grasped the key messages, and that they viewed the scheme as a valuable contribution to the reconstruction of Angola. Once back home, some refugees who had undergone the training in Namibia were recruited by organizations active in mine risk education.

Landmines are against both the spirit and the letter of international humanitarian law because they do not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, and they continue to kill and maim long after the fighting has ended.

 The ICRC’s regional delegation for Southern Africa, is based in Harare, Zimbabwe, and also covers Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia.