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Pooling mine-action experience

04-03-2003 News Release 03/23

Last week, mine-action staff from the ICRC's Geneva headquarters and delegations around the world met in Moscow to pool their experience and define a new approach to their work. In the process, they finalized a draft of the first-ever Guidelines on Mine Action for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

The workshop discussed various approaches to raising public awareness of the dangers of mines and unexploded ordnance. Among other things, the meeting drew up a mine-awareness strategy that should ensure harmonization of the approaches taken by the various ICRC programmes around the world. The participants also consolidated the organization's experience in the domain into one document setting out the lessons learned and recommendations for the future.

The workshop saw a need to combine the ICRC's mine-awareness work with other aid activities to form a comprehensive programme in countries contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance. Mathieu Soupart, who specializes in mine awareness at ICRC headquarters, stressed how essential it is to reduce the horrifying impact that landmines and unexploded ordnance are having on people who live in war zones. " This meeting will help us change risky behaviour patterns " , he said. " Our aim is to promote socio-economic alternatives adapted to the community concerned.”

The ICRC is currently running mine-action programmes in conjunction with National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in 23 countries in Africa, South America, the Middle East, Central and South Asia, the Caucasus and the Balkans. The particularity of the recommendations made by the Moscow meeting is their emphasis on community-based work focusing on local needs. Many of the suggestions put forward at the meeting were in fact the ideas of residents of mine-affected countries.

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