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Pakistan: floodwaters increase dangers posed by unexploded munitions

10-08-2010 News Release 10/148

Geneva (ICRC) – Three young children were seriously wounded in Dera Ismail Khan today by a homemade bomb that detonated when one of them touched it.

The ICRC and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society raising public awareness of the danger of mines in Pakistan in 2009.    
  ©Reuters/Adrees Latif    
An elderly man is evacuated through rising flood waters in Baseera, a village in the Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan's Punjab province.    

The device was apparently dislodged from its original position by floodwaters before the children came in contact with it. This tragic incident is a reminder of the risk posed by explosive remnants of war and the additional danger caused when they are moved by floodwaters.

Several parts of the country have recently been rocked by armed violence. The use of booby traps and makeshift bombs, and the presence in some areas of mines and unexploded ordnance, remain a real threat to the unwary.

" All persons living in areas affected by fighting – or in adjacent areas subject to recent flooding – should be aware of the risk posed by explosive remnants of war, " said Luiza Khazhgerieva, an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) mine-risk education specialist. " Areas that may once have been considered free of weapons can easily be re-contaminated when mines and unexploded ordnance are carried into them by floodwaters. "

People living in unsafe areas are urged to contact local authorities for reports of any weapons that have been discovered there, and not to touch dangerous or suspicious objects. Children are especially vulnerable and should be reminded of the risks. Unexploded munitions can be reported to the local authorities, the army, the police, or any Pakistan Red Crescent Society or ICRC staff person.

Meanwhile, food and shelter items for more than 100,000 people have been dispatched from the ICRC's logistics hub in Peshawar in the last week for distribution by Pakistan Red Crescent volunteers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. In addition, medicines and medical supplies have been sent to Paroa Hosp ital in Dera Ismail Khan and to Bannu.

In cooperation with the Pakistan Red Crescent and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the ICRC continues its relief operations in the many disaster-stricken areas.

  For further information, please contact:
  Michael O'Brien, ICRC Pakistan, tel: +92 300 850 8138
  Christian Cardon, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 26 or +41 79 251 93 02