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Explosive weapons: risk education to protect local people

Explosive weapons Prevention
Chad

After decades of armed conflict, the Lake Chad region remains littered with explosive remnants of war. HI puts up warning signs around hazardous areas and runs risk education sessions to protect local people from explosive remnants.

An HI community officer leads a risk education session for children in a school in the Lake region.

An HI community officer leads a risk education session for children in a school in the Lake region. | © Benoit Almeras / HI

Teaching people how to avoid accidents

A small two-person team from HI is raising the risk awareness of people living in Baga Sola and Liwa, in Chad’s Lake region. These sessions are held outside in the shade, in front of a mosque, or in school playgrounds where HI staff use cartoon strips to teach small groups of 25 people about explosive remnants of war, the harm they can do, and how to prevent it. Six thousand people had their awareness raised in the first quarter of 2018, of which the majority are displaced people who have fled the violence of Boko Haram.

Explosive remnants warning signs

When an explosive remnant is found, a sign is put up as a warning to local people. MAG[1], a partner organisation, then removes and destroys the explosive remnants.

HI’s team regularly returns to sites where explosive remnants have been identified in order to check several things: Is the explosive remnant still visible? Has sand covered it? Are warning signs still there?

Warning signs often disappear, buried in the sand or used by local people for firewood. Some explosive remnants are recovered by Boko Haram for use as improvised explosive devices.

Risk education and putting warning signs around contaminated areas therefore go hand in hand. Thanks to HI, once local people have been informed of the risks, they are more alert and stay away from explosive remnants identified by HI. This reduces the number of accidents before the area can be cleared of explosive weapons. HI and its partner organisations will begin clearing explosives from land in North Chad at the end of this year.

 

[1] Mines Advisory Group

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