Landmine Monitor 2002

Mine Risk Education

The term mine risk education (MRE) is now used by most practitioners as the term to designate the “educational process aimed at ensuring that communities are not only aware of the risks from mines and UXO (mine awareness), but are encouraged to behave in a way which reduces the risk to people, property and the environment. The objective is to reduce the risk to a level where people can live safely; to create a situation where economic, social and health development can occur free from the constraints imposed by landmine contamination.”[66] The term mine risk education now replaces the previously used term “mine awareness.”

According to the latest draft of the mine risk education international mine action standards (IMAS), “MRE also fulfils a broader mine action function by assisting communities to share information on the impact of mine and UXO contamination on the lives and daily routine of the communities. This liaison function ensures that community needs and priorities are placed at the very center of mine action programs. Mine risk education also provides a system which enables individuals and groups to inform demining authorities on the location and extent of contaminated areas. This can greatly assist activities such as technical survey, marking and fencing. The existence of rapid response teams contributes to a reduction of the risk from mines and UXO by providing communities with access to a demining capability, thus reducing the temptation to clear the hazard themselves.”[67] Originally developed in the mid-1990s by some mine action NGOs, this approach was adopted by most mine action practitioners, before eventually becoming part of the UN standards and policy.[68]

In 2001 and the first half of 2002, two trends became more visible: more standardization of MRE, and increased integration of MRE with other humanitarian mine action programs and activities. 

In addition, a growing number of mine risk education programs underwent evaluation during this period, including in Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Croatia, Laos, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and Yemen, as well as in Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Somaliland. UNICEF initiated a process to review its MRE activities in a dozen countries to examine lessons learned from their experience.[69]

Various key operators reported difficulties in obtaining funding for their MRE activities, in particular in Angola, Chad, Ethiopia and Somaliland. 

New programs were initiated in ten countries (Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, Macedonia FYR, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, and Vietnam), while MRE programs closed in Ethiopia and Yugoslavia, as well as Kosovo.

A need for more MRE was reported in Angola, Burma, Chad, Georgia, India, Iran, Nepal, and Somalia, as well as Palestine, while the humanitarian impact of landmines and UXO remained at an alarming level in these countries. Other mine or UXO-affected communities that were not known to receive any MRE programs included Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, as well as Western Sahara.


Government agencies and NGOs in mine-affected countries reported a growing number of MRE programs in 2001 and in the first half of 2002. Internationally, the principal MRE actors remained the same: the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Handicap International (HI), the International Save the Children Alliance (Save the Children Sweden, UK and U.S.), Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and Handicap International Belgium (HIB). In Central America, the Organization of American States (OAS) has been active in a number of affected countries.[70]

UNICEF reported that it was “undertaking, supporting or planning mine action programs, mostly mine awareness education and advocacy in 25 countries.”[71] It views these activities as a part of integrated UN mine action programs and no longer as a stand-alone activity. UNICEF assisted UN mine actions programs in Afghanistan, Albania, Cambodia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Laos, and Sudan. The organization sees its main role as “to identify needs and to ensure – usually through working with implementing partners – that they are met in a timely and appropriate fashion.”[72]

In 2001, working directly through National Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies or other entities, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) conducted MRE programs in Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia (Abkhazia),[73] Iraq, Lebanon, Macedonia FYR, Nicaragua, Tajikistan, and southern Serbia in FR Yugoslavia, as well as the northern Caucasus region of the Russian Federation (including Chechnya and Dagestan), Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh. The ICRC conducted assessment missions to assist the National Red Cross Societies in Colombia, Eritrea and Namibia to implement MRE programs. In 2002, new programs were planned or developed in Angola, Colombia, Namibia, and Peru, as well as Palestine. The ICRC generally applies a community-based approach, using existing structures rather than developing new networks and the ICRC’s MRE activities are increasingly integrated with other components of mine action (in particular, data collection and mines clearance).[74]

In 2001, Handicap International (HI) implemented or supported MRE programs in six countries: Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Thailand.[75] HI worked through local NGOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Guinea-Bissau. An MRE program in Ethiopia ended in June 2001. HI conducted needs assessment missions in Sri Lanka and FR Yugoslavia. HI launched KAP (knowledge, attitudes, practices) surveys in Angola, Ethiopia, Thailand, and Somaliland.[76]

In 2001, the International Save the Children Alliance implemented MRE in five countries: Afghanistan (Save the Children US), Lebanon, Sri Lanka (Save the Children Fund UK), Sudan and Yemen (Save the Children Sweden), as well as Palestine. MRE programs developed and supported by the different branches of the Alliance favor a community-based approach and promote children’s inputs in the design and dissemination of materials.[77]

In 2001, Mines Advisory Group provided MRE in Angola, Cambodia and northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan), while in July 2002, it announced the establishment of two Mine Awareness Support Teams in the north of Sri Lanka for a six month period. MAG generally considers MRE an integral part of its mine action strategy and therefore does not distinguish its MRE work from other components of its programs. In practice, this means that MAG’s mine action teams are multi-skilled with capabilities including mine clearance, survey, marking, EOD, MRE and community liaison.

In 2001, Handicap International Belgium provided MRE in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and DR Congo. The HIB MRE programs are closely linked to other components of mine action (especially data collection and mine clearance). HIB chairs the ICBL’s Mine Risk Education Sub-Group of the Mine Action Working Group and moderates an informational egroup for MRE practitioners around the world.

In 2001, the Organization of American States (OAS) supported mine risk education programs in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. All three programs include radio campaigns, MRE classes and distribution of MRE materials.[78]


At the Third Meeting of States Parties, in September 2001 in Managua, States Parties responded positively to a proposal originally made by the ICBL in 1999 to move mine awareness/mine risk education to the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance and Related Technologies. At the first meeting of the reconstituted Standing Committee in January 2002, the co-chairs acknowledged that “mine awareness is closely interrelated with mine clearance and that its incorporation into this Standing Committee instead of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance was fully justified.”[79]

UNICEF remained the main UN focal point for MRE and was tasked with leading the development of the international standards (IMAS) for MRE. Between June 2001 and April 2002, UNICEF convened meetings of key MRE practitioners to enable them to comment on the draft standards produced by two consultants contracted by UNICEF. The drafts were also made available on the Internet at At a meeting in September 2001, participants agreed to change the term of “mine risk reduction education” to “mine risk education.”[80] In July 2002, UNICEF was finalizing a “Guide for the Management of Mine Risk Education” as part of the IMAS.[81] The standards are intended to replace existing guidelines and incorporate monitoring and evaluation. A second draft should be completed by the end of 2002.[82]

After a consultation process, in January 2002, UNMAS selected Handicap International as its implementing partner for a Landmine Safety Project (LSP).[83] According to UNMAS, the purpose of the LSP “is to provide general landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness and safety information to organizations and individuals working in the vicinity of areas affected by these weapons, and to help them.”[84]

In 2002, UNICEF established a Mine Risk Education Working Group (MREWG), co-convened by UNICEF and the ICBL, and made up of non-profit organizations and agencies engaged in MRE. It brings together MRE practitioners to better coordinate activities, share lessons learned, and to identify and find ways to meet field support needs. The MREWG is overseeing the development of the MRE components of the IMAS, and will steer the development of the MRE implementation manual for the IMAS standards.

In July 2002, the GICHD released a study entitled, “Communication in Mine Awareness Programmes,” and an operational handbook for practitioners, “Improving Communication in Mine Awareness Programmes.” 

HI released three methodological documents on MRE in 2001 and 2002: “MRE implementation guide,” “MRE in the East of Ethiopia: Evaluation of effects” and “Tools for MRE in Mozambique and in the East of Ethiopia: Capitalisation.”[85]



An urgent need for more mine risk education (MRE) was reported in Angola, Burundi, Chad and Somalia. No MRE was reported in Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Somalia, despite the landmine and UXO problem affecting these countries. MRE programs were conducted in at least sixteen countries: Angola, DR Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Somaliland, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Basic MRE activities were conducted in Burundi, Chad and Mauritania. An increasing number of African government ministries, African NGOs and Red Cross societies are operating MRE programs, in countries including Angola, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

  • In Angola, the Ministry of Education formally accepted MRE into the national curriculum. UNICEF funded seven local NGOs to provide MRE in seven highly mine-affected provinces. The ICRC conducted a needs assessment in July 2002.[86]
  • In Eritrea, the UNMEE MACC employed a consultant to develop a series of MRE workbooks and training packages. In late 2001, a comprehensive MRE education program for schoolteachers began in the high-risk Gash Barka and Debub regions.
  • In Ethiopia, the local NGO RaDO extended its MRE program to the largely rural community of Afar regional state in April 2001. In eastern Ethiopia HI ended its program for Somali refugees in June 2001. 
  • In Mozambique, the National Demining Institute (IND) took over MRE activities that HI had developed over the past decade.
  • In Somalia, the UNDP had hoped to initiate MRE from its mine action offices in Baidoa and Mogadishu, but had to scale back plans due to continued conflict. 
  • In Zimbabwe, the National Demining Office (NDO) carried out MRE in coordination with the Police, and civilian population.


Mine risk education programs were carried out in Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru, and, to a limited extent, in Chile and El Salvador. National Armies and government agencies conducted MRE in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru, while local organizations were reported to conduct MRE in Colombia, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.


Urgent needs for more MRE were reported in Burma (Myanmar), India, Nepal and Pakistan. Significant MRE programs continued in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam, while smaller scale activities were conducted in Bangladesh, India, South Korea, and Nepal. Community leaders, local NGOs or government agencies conducted MRE in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, South Korea, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam.

  • In Afghanistan, eleven organizations provided MRE to a total of 730,000 people in 2001, using a variety of approaches. In January 2002, HIB released the results of an external evaluation of its community-based MRE program, which concluded that HIB should engage in mine/UXO clearance in order to provide a better response to the high number of requests generated by its MRE program.
  • In Burma (Myanmar), a three-day mine information workshop, including MRE, took place in Rangoon in February 2002.
  • In Cambodia, CMAC launched a community-based mine/UXO risk reduction pilot project in October 2001.
  • In South Korea, the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines conducted MRE in primary schools near the demilitarized zone. 
  • In Sri Lanka, MAG launched an emergency mine action program in July 2002, including the deployment of two mine awareness support teams. 
  • In Vietnam RENEW, a project entirely managed by Vietnamese staff, was authorized in July 2001 to conduct an 18-month mine action pilot program in a district of Quang Tri province. The program includes MRE theatre, workshops and educational spots for television.


Needs for more MRE were reported in Georgia and Turkey. MRE programs were carried out in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Yugoslavia as well as Abkhazia, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kosovo, and Nagorno-Karabakh. New programs were launched in Macedonia FYR and Tajikistan, as well as Dagestan (Russia). Government agencies and local organizations operated MRE programs and activities in Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia FYR, Poland, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as Abkhazia, Chechnya, and Kosovo.

  • In Kosovo, an external evaluation concluded that “the mine awareness lessons learned over the past ten years still primarily rest with various pioneering NGOs.... [T]he MACC was not in a position to lead from day one as there was no mine awareness experience represented within the MACC. NGOs such as the Mines Advisory Group, Handicap International and the ICRC introduced their own community-based approaches, grounded in years of experience. These approaches were then adopted by the MACC and embodied in the mine action support team (MAST) concept.”[87]
  • In Macedonia FYR, the ICRC and the Macedonian Red Cross launched a community-based MRE program in September 2001. 
  • In Russia, the Mine Action Center Foundation, in cooperation with specialists of the Engineers Corps of the Russian Army, medical experts, and the NGO IPPNW/Russia produced a MRE lecture course for 12 to 16-year-old students.
  • In Tajikistan, the ICRC, the Tajik Red Crescent and the Ministry of Emergency Situations and Civil Defense launched a pilot-project based on the principle that, “all activities start and finish in the community.” In practice, mine-affected communities are involved in all stages of the project (survey, need assessment, design of materials, field-test, training, evaluation). 


A need for more MRE was reported in Egypt, and Iran, as well as Palestine, and Western Sahara. Programs were implemented in Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria (including the Golan Heights), and Yemen, as well as northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan) and Palestine. Basic MRE is conducted in Kuwait, while government agencies and local NGOs are reported to run MRE programs in Algeria, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen, as well as northern Iraq (Iraqi Kurdistan) and Palestine.

  • In Iraq, the ICRC conducted four MRE sessions in March 2001, together with the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. 
  • In Lebanon, a National Mine Risk Education Committee was established in April 2001, made up of the major actors in MRE in the country. The Landmines Resource Center is now developing community liaison as a part of its MRE work. 
  • In Palestine, the NGO Defense for Children continued its MRE work in 2001, primarily in mine-affected areas, military training zones and the areas of confrontation. Because of the current crisis, local media gave more attention to MRE messages. 
  • In Yemen, the Yemen Mine Awareness Association (YMAA) continued its MRE activities focused on communities living close to mined areas.

[66] “Guide for the Management of Mine Risk Education”, IMAS 12.10 Draft Version 1.0, UNMAS, (no date), p.1.
[67] Ibid., p.2.
[68] See The Praxis Group Ltd, “Willing To Listen: an Evaluation of the United Nations Mine Action Programme in Kosovo 1999-2001”, United Nations Mine Action Service, New York, February 2002, pp. 51, 63.
[69] Telephone interview with Hugues Laurenge, MRE Coordination, Handicap International, Lyon, 31 July 2002. The results of UNICEF’s review are due to be released by the end of 2002. “Things that go bang!” UNICEF Newsletter, Issue Four, 13 May 2002; UNICEF contribution to the Appendices of this report.
[70] Other agencies active in MRE included the Association for Aid and Relief-Japan, the BBC/Afghan Education Project, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, CARE, Caritas, Catholic Relief Services, Danish Church Aid, the HALO Trust, HELP, HMD Response, HUMAID, INTERSOS, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Islamic Relief Worldwide, the Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), the Mines Awareness Trust, Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), Oxfam, Peace Trees Vietnam, UNDP, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), World Education, and World Vision. Some international private companies were also reported to be developing MRE programs including Defense Systems Limited and Mine Tech.
[71] Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Kosovo), Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Russian Federation (North Caucasus), Panama, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria (Golan Heights) and Vietnam. Landmine Monitor also received reports of existing or planned MRE programs by UNICEF in FYR Macedonia, Kyrgyzstan, and Senegal. See UNICEF contribution to the Appendices of this report. 
[72] See UNICEF contribution to the Appendices of this report.
[73] In Georgia (Abkhazia), the ICRC supports the work of HALO (training and equipment). Email from Laurence Desvignes, ICRC Mine-Program Coordinator, 25 July 2002.
[74] See ICRC contribution to the Appendices of this report; and Email to Landmine Monitor (HIB) from Laurence Desvignes, ICRC Mine-Program Coordinator, 4 July 2002.
[75] Email to Landmine Monitor (HIB) from Cathy Badonnel, Mine Risk Education Coordination, Handicap International, Lyon, 24 June 2002.
[76] Telephone interview with Hugues Laurenge, Mine Risk Education Officer, Handicap International, Lyon, 24 June 2002. 
[77] Presentation by Christina Nelke, Landmines Focal Point, Save the Children Sweden, to the Mine Risk Education Working Group, Geneva, 30 May 2002.
[78] See OAS contribution to the Appendices of this report
[79] Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Awareness and Mine Action Technologies, Conclusions of the Co-Chairs 29-30 January 2002.
[80] Minutes of the meeting of the Mine Risk Education Working Group held in Geneva, 30 May 2002.
[81] “Guide for the Management of Mine Risk Education”, IMAS 12.10 Draft Version 1.0, UNMAS, (no date). See also
[82] See UNICEF contribution to the Appendices of this report.
[83] Email to Landmine Monitor (HIB) from Hugues Laurenge, Mine Risk Education Officer, Handicap International, Lyon, 19 June 2002.
[84] See the UNMAS website,
[85] Email to Landmine Monitor (HIB) from Hugues Laurenge, Mine Risk Education Officer, Handicap International, Lyon, 19 June 2002.
[86] Email to Landmine Monitor (HIB) from Laurence Desvignes, Mine Program Coordinator, ICRC, 25 July 2002.
[87] The Praxis Group Ltd, “Willing To Listen: an Evaluation of the United Nations Mine Action Programme in Kosovo 1999-2001”, United Nations Mine Action Service, New York, February 2002, pp. 51, 63.