UN in Libya Press Release: UN Joins Ministry of Education and NGOs to Mark Mine Awareness Day

4 Apr 2013

UN in Libya Press Release: UN Joins Ministry of Education and NGOs to Mark Mine Awareness Day

TRIPOLI, 4 April 2013 – The Ministry of Education, The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and international and local NGOs are today marking the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action to raise awareness of the continuing threats of mines, explosive remnants of war (ERW), fireworks, and weapons, especially among children.

UNICEF Country Director Carel de Rooy pointed out that considerable efforts had taken place since April 2011 to locate, remove, and destroy explosive remnants following the conflict in Libya under the coordination of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) through UNMAS.

"At the same time, it's important to note that children in particular face new threats from the improper use of fireworks as well as the increasing proliferation of weapons that continue to cause casualties among Libyans." Unsecured ammunition storage areas further compound the risk posed to Libyan communities and their neighbors.

UNICEF has been working with Handicap International to develop the capacity of staff from the Ministry of Education and school teachers to deliver a school-based mine risk education programme, including information on small arms and light weapons. One component of this support was to develop education materials to be used by teachers in classrooms.

"We developed posters and leaflets to help children understand the risks associated with mines, explosive remnants of war, unexploded ordinance, and weapons" said Ms. Najia Sabha, national MRE Coordinator at the Ministry of Education. "We will distribute these materials across Libya for teachers to use in their classrooms".

Sara Rijavec, the small arms and light weapons project manager at Handicap International, said it was important to use vivid images and simple straightforward messages in the these materials. "Our aim is for children to understand the risks associated with these dangerous items and we know that posters and leaflets are an effective way of changing their behaviors."

As part of today's activities in Tripoli, a group of approximately 400 Libyan Boy Scouts will march to raise awareness about mine action activities in Libya. A small quantity of the newly designed posters and leaflets will be distributed to crowds along the way, before they are sent to schools across the country.

Mine Risk Education is one component of a €3.1 million two-year project funded by the European Union and implemented by UNICEF to improve access to quality education for all children in Libya, with a special focus on the most vulnerable children, including those affected by the conflict and those that are internally displaced. Of the total 2013 appeal of US$ 21 million for international mine action, weapons and ammunition management activities in Libya in line with national priorities, a shortfall of approximately 65 percent remains.

For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org.

For more information about UNDP and its work visit: http://www.undp.org

For more information about UNMAS and its work visit: http://mineaction.org

For more information on April4th events in Tripoli please contact:

Yosi Burckhardt
Reports Officer, UNICEF Libya
Tel. : +218 91 93 59 765