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Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bosnian children write about mines

22-11-2001 News Release 01/46

The latest edition of Lastavica , a 16-page quarterly magazine focusing on mine awareness, will soon be rolling off the press. First published at the end of 1998, Lastavica , which is named after a bird (the swallow), is the brainchild of 24 teachers working as Red Cross mine-awareness instructors in the mixed Croat/Bosniac cantons of Central Bosnia and Zenica/Doboj.

The readership of the magazine, which is aimed at children of primary-school age, has almost doubled since its initial print run of 6,000 copies three years ago. Sixty per cent of the input comes from children, and the teachers and their pupils compile and edit all the material themselves.

In addition to articles on Red Cross mine-awareness programmes, assistance to victims and the work of other organizations involved in mine action in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lastavica covers other traditional Red Cross activities and subjects such as international humanitarian law. There are also cartoons, comic-strips and photographs. The magazine is printed at a local Red Cross press in Kotor Varos, in Republika Srpska. 

Bosnia-Herzegovina is among the most heavily mined countries in the world. Today, six years after the end of the war, there is still an average of nine mine accidents a month, the majority of them involving children. The ICRC, through its network of 96 Red Cross mine-awareness instructors and supervisors, organizes community-based presentations, gathers mine data, conducts media campaigns and gives assistance to mine victims. Lastavica is part of the effort to involve children themselves in getting mine-awareness messages across to their peers.

" Every child can find something of interest in the magazine " , explained Valter Gros, head of the ICRC’s field office in Zenica. “It's a very effective communication tool.”

At present, publication costs are met by the ICRC, but a major local fundraising campaign is planned to enable the project to become financially self-sufficient when the ICRC starts to scale down its support next year.