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Albania: Mine clearance, mine awareness

11-04-2002 News Release 02/15

The ICRC is working with the Albanian Red Cross and local communities in remote northern areas to prevent accidents caused by mines and unexploded ordnance. The problem dates back to the war in Kosovo. The explosive remnants of that conflict have taken a heavy toll not only in terms of people injured or killed but also in damage to the region's social and economic fabric. The population of these isolated areas already struggle with long winters and generally harsh conditions. Mines and unexploded ordnance further deprive them of freedom of movement, making it that much more difficult to farm the land, collect firewood, graze cattle and so on.

The ICRC is working closely with local branches of the Red Cross and two organizations engaged in mine clearance (the Swiss Federation for Mine Action and Danish Church Aid). This week a theatre group set up by the ICRC and Albanian Red Cross visited the villages of Cahan and Topojan on the Kosovo border. Despite snow and low temperatures, schoolchildren and adults gathered to hear a message that could spell the difference between life and death.