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Russian Federation / Chechnya: Beware of mines!

28-04-2004 News Release 04/58

"My brother and I went from Gudermes to the Vedensky region to find out what had happened to our house. We took the short cut to the village that we had used before. My brother saw an object on the ground and picked it up. It exploded. He died and I lost my hand and eyesight. I underwent several operations in Moscow but could not get my eyesight back".

Islam Gazimagomaev tells his story in one of the four TV spots produced by the ICRC to help people avoid mine accidents. One hears such stories in Chechnya almost every day: " I decided to use a different road and the absence of vehicles didn't stop me - I didn't realize this was telling me that the road was mined " ; " I picked up a flashlight and it exploded in my hand " ; " I found some strange object and decided to see what was inside " ; " I went inside a destroyed building and stepped on a mine. "

Carelessness and curiosity in mine-affected Chechnya cost lives. Ignoring clear signs of danger, using overgrown paths or abandoned roads, or picking up unknown objects can lead to tragedy. The ICRC mine-awareness programme tells children and adults about the risks they face when taking a short cut, collecting firewood or grazing livestock. Visual images in TV spots and on billboards not only tell people about the danger but also remind them of the practical need to keep it in mind every day.

The Chechen Ministry of Emergency Situations has already put up 25 ICRC-produced billboards on the main roads in Chechnya and will have another nine in place by the end of April. The double-sided billboards advise drivers to avoid deserted side roads and dirt tracks, and urge children to stay away from short cuts on their way to school or to meet with friends: " Keep on the safe roads, beware of mines! "

 For further information, please contact:  

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

 Anastasia Isyuk, ICRC Moscow, tel. ++7 095 926 54 26  

 Flore Blancpain, ICRC Nalchik, tel. ++7 866 295 45 74