Some of the 3,700 tonnes of unexploded ordnance cleared by MAG from the Goz Beida area during June. [Photos: MAG Chad]
MAG has been praised by UNICEF for its work reducing the threat posed by deadly unexploded ordnance in Eastern Chad.
After a recent surge in violence between Government and rebel forces in
May, at least six children were tragically killed when several items of unexploded ordnance (UXO) blew up close to the town of Goz Beida.
MAG’s technical teams collect and destroy any unexploded bombs that are found during detailed surveys of areas known to have been targeted during the conflict.
During June, MAG’s teams cleared 13,100 items – about 3,700 tonnes – of UXO from in and around Goz Beida.
Responding to reports from the International Committee of the Red Cross of contaminated land in other villages, MAG has been sending emergency tasking teams to various settlements to assess the danger.
Funded by the European Commission, last week MAG cleared a further 142 items of unexploded ordnance from a town called Am Dam.
The rebels who venture into Eastern Chad are very mobile, waging war from pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns.
As a result, the Government’s responding air strikes cover a large area, so as well as clearing dangerous explosives, MAG must also educate as many people as possible on the dangers of living on contaminated land.
MAG staff prepare a safe demolition of collected items.
As part of The Day of the African Child on 16 June, UNICEF arranged an awareness-raising event that included activities and talks around the theme, ‘The danger UXO presents for my friends and me’.
Children and their families were encouraged to learn about the dangers of living on land contaminated with unexploded weapons, and how to report them when found.
The discussions were recorded by Internews Network – a non-governmental organisation working to empower local media outlets worldwide – and the sessions will be aired on three local radio stations, hopefully reaching as many people as possible.
Violence in Eastern Chad has driven many people from their homes in recent months. As they return and try to restart their lives they are put at great risk from unexploded ordnance.
It is a difficult situation, but Laurette Mokrani, Head of Office for UNICEF in Goz Beida, has congratulated MAG on the fantastic work being done in the region.
MAG Chad’s Country Programme Manager Ronald-Paul Veilleux said: “The deaths of these children were devastating, and we want to do whatever we can to try and prevent any more from being hurt or killed.
“Our teams in Eastern Chad have cleared thousands of dangerous items in the last few weeks, and we are committed to continuing our work in the region to reduce the threat to children and their families.
“We are really pleased to be working with UNICEF to educate people on the dangers of unexploded weapons, and we’ve already seen some positive results of our work.
“We hope people will continue to alert us to where these dangerous items are, so our expert teams can remove them and help people safely begin to rebuild their lives.”
13 July 2009