UN demining agency promotes public awareness about explosive hazards in Somalia

Baidoa, Somalia (PANA) - Many years of armed conflicts in Somalia have bequeathed a lethal legacy of explosive devices, including landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) which, according to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), affect marginalized communities in conflict-affected areas and along border regions.

“The threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the country remains an ever-present source of danger,” UNMAS said on Wednesday as the world observed International Mine Awareness Day.

Established in 1997 by the United Nations General Assembly, UNMAS leads, coordinates and implements all aspects linked to the mitigation of the threats from mines and explosive remnants of war under the umbrella of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

It said almost 3,000 civilians have been killed or injured in IED incidents in Somalia over the last three years. Of these, 2017 was the deadliest, in large part due to an IED attack on 14 October in Mogadishu which killed more than 500 people and injured over 300. Children accounted for three-quarters of all casualties caused by unexploded ordnance last year.

“The threat posed by explosive hazards is a grim fact of life for many Somalis, causing the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods and affecting the physical and emotional well-being of people in many parts of the country,” UNMAS elaborated.

On International Mine Awareness Day, UNMAS highlighted how mine action operations provide a tangible form of protection, reducing the explosive threats faced by affected communities, as well as vulnerable populations such as internally displaced persons and refugees.

Abshir Mahdi Isakh, an UNMAS specialist on unexploded ordinance in Somalia, said: “Last month, a farmer in Baidoa was trying to expand his farm. As he was trying to remove an old fence, he found a serious-looking ERW. He reported it to our office, so we went to the farm and removed it. He can now continue his work.”

Isakh educates residents of the southwestern Somali city of Baidoa about the risks of explosive devices and carries out demining operations to help keep communities safe.

UNMAS data shows that in 2017 alone more than 70 communities in Somalia benefited from the clearance of explosive remnants of war in over 450 locations. Similar work is being carried out currently in more than 40 districts nationwide to rid communities of explosive hazards.

According to the agency’s approach to conflict prevention – which draws from the central role of development in sustaining peace – as contaminated land is cleared, communities are empowered to recover and rebuild their towns, cities and economies.

Isakh also underlined the benefits of knowing the risks associated with landmines and other explosive hazards, and the action that can be taken to mitigate them.

“Increasing awareness regarding threats of explosive remnants of war creates room for saving many lives. Nothing is more valuable than knowledge. Awareness is the best solution for this issue,” he added.
-0- PANA AR 4April2018

04 Abril 2018 16:21:10

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