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LIBYA: Educating children about the explosive remnants of war

Source: MAG (Mines Advisory Group) - Fri, 16 Nov 2012 09:16 GMT
Author: MAG (Mines Advisory Group)
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ten-year-old Muhammad’s story shows how lethal munitions can find their way into homes...

Muhammad lives in Rujban, in the Western Mountains, a region that was the scene of heavy fighting during the revolution last year.

In this area, like many other parts of Libya, the war's explosive legacy continues to be felt.

MAG cleared 15,000 items of unexploded ordnance in the country in September alone, and 235,000 people have benefited from our 'Risk Education' safety sessions over the past 18 months.

A MAG Community Liaison team visited Muhammad's school in June, to give Risk Education to pupils and teachers.

The session Muhammad attended may well have saved one or more lives, including his own.

During the war, Muhammad's younger brother, Ziad, had been given some rocket fuses by a stranger.

Unaware of the danger, he brought them home to play with, but when the boys' uncle saw them he took the items away, burying them next to the house to keep them away from children.

And there they stayed – posing the threat of serious injury or death if hit by a spade, for example – until MAG's arrival at the school.

Having listened to the safety messages, Muhammad went home and insisted that his uncle report the buried fuses to MAG.

Treating the matter as a top priority due to their location in a residential area, a technical team removed the dangerous items, and transported them to a demolition site to be destroyed.

The school principal thanked MAG for teaching his pupils and staff to report any suspicious objects they see, and enabling them to take responsibility for their own safety. “Muhammad's actions will encourage other students to report any dangerous or suspected items they find,” he said.

Fore more information on MAG's work in Libya, please go to www.maginternational.org/libya.

Thanks to all the public, institutional and government donors to MAG's operations in Libya, including: AECID (Spanish Government); Canadian Department for Foreign Affairs and International Trade; European Commission; Good Gifts; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Sterling International; Swiss Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs; UNHCR; The Vitol Foundation. Without this support, MAG's lifesaving work in the country could not be carried out.

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