Landmine Awareness, Training Programs Continue

More than 24 million mines have been detected and defused  so far, but 16 million are still undetected.More than 24 million mines have been detected and defused  so far, but 16 million are still undetected.

Over the past 12 years, five million people living in Iran’s border regions have received training on ways to prevent landmine-related injury and disability under the auspices of the State Welfare Organization.

According to Minou Rafi’ei, deputy for disability prevention at the SWO, 787,000 people in five landmine-affected provinces have been trained, IRNA reported.

“Changes in the ways people in the border regions respond to mine incidents and the rates of mine-related fatality have been studied since 2005,” she said at the opening ceremony of a two-day course on landmine management in Orumiyeh, West Azarbaijan Province.

She did not provide details on the outcome of the study and its effectiveness.

The SWO has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to benefit from the valuable global experience of the prominent organization.

Mark Ackerman, ICRC representative in Iran said that this committee has been conducting awareness raising programs and rehabilitation for landmine victims in Iran for 13 years and has cooperated with several relevant organizations including the SWO.

“The collaboration is centered on training instructors and joint research projects,” he said.

Saeid Farivar, provincial head of the SWO, said 236,000 people in the border areas of the northwestern province have received training so far.

“The SWO’s educational programs saw a 16% increase in 2016 compared to the  previous year, which indicates its determination in raising awareness and reducing disabilities caused by landmines,” he said.

Currently, the target community consists of nomad populations, school children, border commuters and farmers.

However, given the displacement of mines by landslides, children and housewives in high-risk regions will also be offered education.

West Azarbaijan was acknowledged last year for outstanding performance in mine-related educational programs. It is among the five provinces infested with mines left over from the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88) along with Kermanshah, Kurdestan, Ilam and Khuzestan provinces.

Iran is said to be the second country in the world with the highest number of landmines. Nearly 40 million mines were planted in the country during the Iraqi-imposed military hostilities.

More than 24 million mines have been detected and defused so far, but 16 million are still undetected, according to UN reports.

Iran’s Army estimates that 1.5 million to 1.8 million hectares are still infested with Iraqi landmines which have severely restricted agricultural production in the five border provinces.

The number of landmine victims has never been officially released by Iran’s Mine Action Center (IRMAC), but unofficial statistics point to one person being maimed or killed every day.

The Iranian Institute of Medical Research for Handicapped Veterans, says over 92% of mine victims are unprepared and lack the basic education to avoid an encounter with the deadly explosive.

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