+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Landmine Monitor Report 2003

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

2003 represents UNICEF’s 11th year of direct engagement in the sector of humanitarian mine action, starting with Mine Risk Education (MRE) programmes in El Salvador, Somalia and Cambodia. Over the years, UNICEF has supported mine action activities in 35 countries, with 29 country programmes planned, ongoing, initiated or concluded in 2002 and by early 2003. Following the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, Mine Action and Effective Coordination: the UN Policy was welcomed by the 53rd session of the UN General Assembly in 1998. The Policy defines humanitarian mine action as having five components: mine awareness [a.k.a: mine risk education]; advocacy; survey, mapping and clearance; ‘victim assistance’; and stockpile destruction. The Policy divides the responsibility for these activities across eleven UN agencies and departments, outlining co-ordination mechanisms for UN and other organisations. UNICEF has accepted responsibilities in relation to three of these five components: MRE; the rehabilitation of landmine survivors; and advocacy for a total ban on anti-personnel landmines. These responsibilities are carried out in close cooperation with concerned partners.

UNICEF Mine Action Strategy 2002-2005

The UNICEF Mine Action Strategy was formulated to provide a framework for UNICEF to fulfil its commitments in the field of mine action laid out in the UN Policy. The Strategy encapsulates UNICEF’s humanitarian agenda and provides a rights-based approach for action. Following is an outline of UNICEF’s approach to mine action, reflected in the Strategy.

In mine affected countries, UNICEF works with and supports states, non-state actors, other UN agencies and like minded civil society partners and international organisations to help children, their families and their communities understand how to reduce mine risks, focusing in particular on MRE, and advocates for and with them on mine related issues. UNICEF acts to identify at-risk populations, carry out emergency and long term MRE, and support other risk reduction activities, such as hazardous area marking.[1] Included in UNICEF’s action is a commitment to address problems associated with other explosive remnants of war (ERW), such as cluster munitions, and to work for the further development of international law in relation to ERW.

UNICEF works to promote ratification and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty: helping to ensure that states and non state actors are aware of the threat of landmines and fully conscious of their terrible effects; that existing landmines are destroyed, hazardous areas marked; that new landmines are neither procured, manufactured nor laid; and that services are in place for survivors - particularly women and children.

UNICEF advocates for and with mine survivors and other people with disabilities to ensure their voices are heard, rights respected, basic needs met and that they are able to fully participate in their societies. The main role of UNICEF is in identifying needs, and advocating for them to be addressed in the planning and provision of health, social, education and other services. UNICEF focuses on access of mine survivors and other people with disability to services and programmes, rather than on service provision itself. Among the 29 countries where UNICEF is supporting mine action, eleven have survivor assistance components.

In all its activities, UNICEF takes a rights-based approach to mine action, which recognises the legal and moral obligation and accountability of states to the rights and needs of their peoples, and affirms that children, women and men are subjects of rights - rights holders - rather than objects of charity. It thus follows that they should have the opportunity to express their views, and participate in decision-making on issues affecting their lives. For these reasons, UNICEF places affected children, their families, and their communities at the centre of mine action, and encourages its partners to do likewise. UNICEF believes mine action responses must be integrated with political and advocacy initiatives, and that initial mine action responses and life-saving assistance should move rapidly toward medium and long term solutions, with an emphasis on national capacity building, community participation and community based recovery strategies. UNICEF sees mine action as a crucial supporting element of the broader humanitarian, development and peace building agenda, and sees coordination within mine action and other sectors as essential to the effectiveness of mine action programmes.

Global Projects & the Landmines Team

To support the implementation of the Mine Action Strategy and provide technical assistance to UNICEF country and regional offices, UNICEF’s Office of Emergency Programmes maintained a mine action support capacity within its New York headquarters. In order to manage an ever increasing workload the team expanded in 2003 to include five staff. The primary responsibilities of the Team include:

  • UNICEF mine action policy development and coordination
  • The maintenance and development of international mine action partnerships and cooperation with agencies such as UNDP, UNMAS, UNOPS, DDA, Cranfield Mine Action, GICHD, Center for Disease Control, the ICRC, the ICBL, NGOs, and donor organisations, among many others
  • Coordination and the promotion of best practice in MRE, including co-convening the MRE Working Group with the ICBL
  • Global advocacy on mines and other explosive remnants of war, the rights and needs of mine affected communities and mine accident survivors

The team also supports UNICEF regional and country offices in:

  • Assessing MRE needs and ensuring these are met, especially in emergencies
  • Building national/local capacity through the provision of guidelines and training
  • Supporting local advocacy initiatives
  • Mobilising resources and facilitating international partnerships

During 2002/3 the team focussed on the provision of support to country offices through its ‘Flying Team’. This Team is a roster of mine action professionals managed by the Landmines Team who are deployed to country offices on a relatively short term basis to provide timely technical support to mine action implemented by UNICEF and its partners. In 2002-2003 this capacity has been deployed to Lebanon, Angola, Chechnya (Russian Federation), Burundi, Eritrea, Occupied Palestine Territories, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Chad, Afghanistan, Iran and most recently to Iraq.

In addition the Landmines Team was busy with the finalisation of the UNICEF Mine Action Strategy; the development of the MRE component of the International Mine Action Standards; co-convening the MRE Working Group with the ICBL; the development of a UNICEF landmines advocacy kit and a publication on children’s rights within the framework of the Mine Ban Treaty; and a study of best practice and lessons learned for UNICEF in mine action.

The Team was also fully involved the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional process, meeting of State Parties and attended the various Standing Committees. The Team was engaged in the development of the UN Victim Assistance Policy and participated in the second Ad Hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral International Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disability.

UNICEF with UNMAS have also provided support for the innovative work of Geneva Call to engage armed non-state actors in the ban on landmines, and continued to support calls for an optional protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons regarding ERW.

Country Programmes & Activities

During 2002 and 2003 UNICEF was supporting, planning or concluding mine action activities in 29 countries, including: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Iran, Georgia, Kosovo (FYR), Lao PDR, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Panama, Russian Federation (North Caucasus), Somalia, Sri Lanka, north and south Sudan, Syria (Golan Heights), and Vietnam.[2] In these countries, UNICEF’s approach to mine action differs according to the particular context: some country programmes incorporating a wide variety of mine action activities; while in others focussing on a particular element of mine action, such as school based MRE. In 2002, UNICEF’s global financial requirements for mine action exceeded 17,000.000 US dollars and in 2003 are forecast at more than 19,000.000 US dollars. Some examples of UNICEF country programmes are briefly outlined below:


As one of the most heavily mine affected countries in the world, over 2002/3 UNICEF stepped up its mine action efforts in Afghanistan. Along with the placement of MRE technical advisors in the national Mine Action Centre, UNICEF with its implementing partner META continued to support the development of generic training package and training of all implementing partners on community based MRE methodologies. With regard to school based MRE, after training 18,000 school teachers as part of the winter teacher training program UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, is currently working to organise and train more teachers over the summer of 2003.


Angola is acknowledged as having the third highest level of mine contamination in the world. During 2002/3, UNICEF continued to support community based NGOs working in the seven most mine affected provinces, training MRE trainers and working with authorities to provide life-saving information to children and women prior to resettlement. However, financial limitations continued to hamper the urgent need to expand MRE activities in 2003 to newly accessible municipalities, outside provincial capitals. Presently UNICEF is increasing its efforts to raise support in response to increased population movements and avoid a likely rise in the number of mine incidents during 2003.


UNICEF has been involved in the implementation of mine risk education since 1995. In 2002, an MRE Technical Advisor was assigned to support the Mine Action Centre (BHMAC), while UNICEF continued to support the MRE efforts of the Ministries of Education within the framework of BHMAC co-ordination mechanisms. With the local NGO Genesis, UNICEF undertook school-based risk education for young children through interactive and participatory puppet shows and workshops. This project was broadened to include disability awareness and collaboration with victim assistance agencies to allow for the referral of persons with disability to appropriate services. UNICEF also continues to support the Child Landmine Victim Assistance Project implemented by the NGO Jesuits Refugees Services which aims to facilitate the reintegration of children who have been disabled by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Presently, UNICEF is preparing a comparative study on the provision of assistance to mine victims and people with disability and problems of inequity and non-fulfillment of entitlements. The findings of the study will provide essential baseline information to support the development of a national policy on landmine victim assistance.


Cambodia remains one of the most mine and UXO affected countries in the world and one of UNICEF’s oldest and most comprehensive mine action programmes. Throughout 2002, UNICEF Cambodia with its many partners was supporting the integration of MRE in schools, victim assistance activities, focussing particularly on children, proximity mine clearance and mined area marking, and the development of a new approach to MRE with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, with a greater focus on community orientation, integration and liaison. In addition UNICEF has consistently supported initiatives linked to the promotion and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, as well as public information events such as the National Mine Awareness Day. In view of its wide range of activities in Cambodia, the country office released a document which collects practices and lessons learned over the years in the area of mine/UXO accident prevention and survivor assistance.[3]


MRE in Iraq is UNICEF’s newest project and has been urgently established to respond to the burgeoning problem of stockpiles of explosive remnants of war, particularly associated with UXO in the immediate aftermath of the recent conflict. UNICEF, with HI and WFP, has disseminated 172,000 MRE posters and leaflets throughout the country. This material was designed to complement the ICRC mass dissemination campaign implemented at the same time. The initial emergency public awareness campaign is now moving into a longer term capacity building phase, engaging the involvement of networks such as the education and public health systems, religious organisations and civil defence organisations. Casualty data gathering systems are also under development, which will provide a better understanding of vulnerable groups and dangerous activities, and drive the development of more targeted, community oriented MRE. UNICEF in partnership with MAG is working with UNMAS as a member of the UN Mine Action Co-ordination Team, and ensuring that MRE activities are coordinated nationally, are complementary and integrated into mine survey and clearance. National standards are also under development through the MRE Technical Working Group, chaired by UNICEF.

[1] See UNICEF’s Cambodia programme for an example.
[2] In ten of these countries, UNICEF is the only UN agency working in mine action.
[3] A Collection of Practices from UNICEF’s Mine Action Experience in Cambodia; UNICEF Cambodia, June 2002.