MAG teams in Angola are stepping up risk education activities following two explosive ordnance accidents in less than seven weeks that have claimed the lives of two children and left 12 others injured.

In the latest incident, which happened on January 9, a six-year-old girl was killed and six of her playmates were injured.

The children are thought to have been playing with an item of explosive ordnance, unaware of its danger, when it exploded in a village in Moxico Province.

Three of the children have been discharged from hospital while three others continue to be treated following the accident.

The accident follows one at the end of November last year, also in Moxico Province, which led to the death of a seven-year-old girl with six others injured. Two of the inured are still in hospital.

MAG staff have visited the communities to offer their condolences and to deliver additional risk education sessions to reinforce safety messages.

MAG’s specialised digital risk education experts have also launched an emergency campaign to deliver safety advice to Angolan communities using social media platforms such as Facebook. 

The campaign will target people living in the eastern Angolan provinces of Moxico, Lunda Sul and Lunda Norte. MAG delivers innovative digital risk education activities in countries across the world with funding support from the US Government. Such campaigns are designed to augment traditional face-to-face risk education sessions.

MAG Director of Programmes Greg Crowther said: “Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the children who have lost their lives and with all those who have suffered injuries. 

“Incidents such as these are a tragic reminder of the continuing impact of landmines and explosive ordnance in countries many years after the end of conflict – and also a reminder of why the work of MAG and its partners remains so important.

Our teams on the ground are working with our partners in Angola to quickly establish what steps we can take to reinforce safety messaging in the areas where the accidents happened.” 

The Landmine Monitor estimates some 60,000 to 88,000 people were killed or injured by landmines in Angola between 2008 and 2019.

MAG has been active in the country for almost 30 years, during which time there has been significant progress in clearing unexploded ordnance and landmines following the country’s 40-year conflict. 

Through a partnership of national authorities, non-governmental organisations, and international donors, communities have become significantly safer over that time. Diana, Princess of Wales, was also instrumental during her lifetime in raising awareness of the dangers of mines and other unexploded ordnance in Angola and beyond. Currently, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Sweden and Japan are providing support for MAG’s work in Angola.

MAG’s Senior Community Liaison Advisor, Sebastian Kasack, said: “While the conflict in Angola ended many years ago, children and their communities still live under the constant threat of these deadly incidents.

“Aside from clearing land, providing risk education is of the utmost importance. These sessions help communities learn how to recognise, avoid and report threats. 

“It is impossible to completely eradicate risk while explosive ordnance remains but our education and awareness-raising programmes make a real contribution towards reducing the threat to families in their daily lives and helps create a safer environment for children to grow and play, free from fear and danger.”