The term Mine Risk Education (MRE) replaces the previously-used term “mine awareness.” MRE is not normally a stand-alone activity, but an integral part of mine action program planning and implementation. According to the draft international MRE standards, MRE “seeks to reduce the risk of injury from mines/UXO by raising awareness and promoting behavioural change; including public information dissemination, education and training, and community mine action liaison.”
Internationally, the principal MRE actors are UNICEF, the ICRC, Handicap International (HI), the International Save the Children Alliance (Save the Children Sweden, UK and US), Mines Advisory Group, HI Belgium, the OAS and HALO Trust. UNICEF is the MRE focal point in the United Nations system. National NGOs and Red Cross/Crescent societies conducted MRE programs in at least 28 countries in 2002 and 2003.
More than 4.8 million people took part in MRE sessions in 2002. Millions more received MRE through radio and television, as well as through short briefings, such as those scheduled for refugees returning to Afghanistan.
Landmine Monitor recorded MRE programs in 57 of the 82 mine-affected countries. There were significant MRE programs in 36 countries, and basic or limited MRE activities in 21 countries. No MRE activities were recorded in 25 mine-affected countries.
Landmine Monitor recorded MRE programs in 36 countries in 2002 and 2003. This included 23 States Parties: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Croatia, DR Congo, Ecuador, Eritrea, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, FYR Macedonia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, and Yemen. It also included 13 non-States Parties: Azerbaijan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Pakistan, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, and Vietnam. There were also MRE programs in Abkhazia, Chechnya, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Palestine.
MRE programs were closed in Eritrea in July 2002, and in April/May 2002 Operation Normal Life ended in Kosovo. New programs were initiated in nine countries (Angola, Colombia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Vietnam, Zambia), as well as in Palestine.
Some positive developments included expanded program activities.
- In Afghanistan, twelve NGOs provided MRE to returning refugees and displaced persons. More than 2 million people reportedly attended short MRE briefings.
- In Angola, MRE programs expanded; in late 2002, the ICRC initiated a community-based MRE capacity-building project with volunteers from the Angolan Red Cross, while HI reinforced its direct MRE activities in 2002.
- In Bosnia and Herzegovina, MRE became part of the school curriculum, reaching 541,550 students.
- In Cambodia, at least eight organizations are involved in a wide range of MRE activities including community based mine risk reduction, MRE integrated with mine clearance operations, and MRE integrated in primary school curricula.
- In Chechnya, some MRE agencies shifted their focus in 2003 from working with internally displaced people in Ingushetia to supporting local structures in Chechnya.
- In Colombia, a new community-based MRE project began in 14 municipalities in Antioquia and Cauca departments.
- In Croatia, most MRE activities are now being conducted by Croatian governmental and non-governmental agencies.
- In Iraq, a number of agencies, including UNICEF and HI, have been conducting large-scale emergency MRE activities following the coalition occupation. In the northern governorates local NGOs and MAG implemented MRE. MAG distributed MRE materials to displaced persons in the northern regions prior to and during the main hostilities in 2003.
- In Iran, the UNDP signed on 25 July 2002 an agreement with the government to establish multiple aspects of mine action in the country, including MRE and survivor assistance programs.
- In Kyrgyzstan, the Red Crescent initiated an MRE program in the Batken region.
- In Laos, an MRE curriculum was introduced in 911 schools, reaching a total of 86,500 students.
- In FYR Macedonia, the ICRC and the Macedonian Red Cross launched a media campaign aimed at reaching a wider audience.
- In Nagorno-Karabakh, the ICRC launched in 2003 a program to create play spaces for children away from mined areas.
- In Nicaragua, five different agencies provided MRE across the country.
- In Palestine, the NGO Defense for Children continued its MRE work in 2002, primarily in mine-affected areas, military training zones, and areas of confrontation. UNICEF and the Palestinian Red Crescent Society also carried out MRE activities, while ICRC did so in Gaza.
- UN agencies conducted MRE in the Golan areas of Syria; the Syrian government also runs MRE programs.
- In Peru, some mine-affected communities living near mine-affected high-tension electrical towers in Ica, Junín and Huancavelica received MRE for the first time.
- In Serbia and Montenegro, local and state-run media carried out MRE programs.
- In Sri Lanka, UNICEF and NGOs have increased MRE activities following the February 2002 cease-fire, which has led to many families returning to their homes in mine-affected areas.
- In Sudan, at least six NGOs are involved in the provision of MRE across the country.
- In Thailand, three agencies conducted MRE. MRE programs were also conducted in six Burmese refugee camps.
- In Vietnam, the government carries out mine/UXO risk education as part of a national injury prevention program, while NGOs and others also conduct education programs in heavily affected areas.
Other developments included surveys and assessments to better plan and implement MRE activities.
- In Abkhazia, ICRC provided technical assistance to HALO to conduct a survey on the level of MRE awareness and to adapt the MRE program accordingly.
- In Albania, a survey of MRE activities was conducted in August 2002, resulting in a revised MRE strategy.
- In Angola, a comprehensive MRE asessment report was released in 2002.
- In Azerbaijan, an external consultant evaluated the MRE program developed by UNICEF and ANAMA.
Trainings of MRE trainers and workshops are also viewed as positive developments.
- In Burma, Nonviolence International facilitated an advanced MRE program for cross-border medical workers in January 2003. In June 2003, MAG carried out an MRE workshop.
- In Ethiopia, a MRE community liaison training session was held in March-April 2003 for mine action agencies and regional government representatives. RaDO is the only agency conducting MRE in Ethiopia.
- In Jordan, twenty MRE instructors from four countries received training at a three-week course held in October 2002.
- In Senegal, HI and the Ministry of National Education developed a new schoolteacher MRE training program.
Some negative developments include:
- In Eritrea, the July 2002 proclamation disbanding mine action NGOs negatively affected nascent MRE activities.
- In Kosovo, the designated local bodies failed to plan for MRE. MRE was subsequently carried out by UNICEF, ICRC, the German NGO Caritas and the local NGO ARKA.
- In Rwanda, a lack of funds led to the closure of all MRE programs in 2002.
- Funding problems also hampered MRE activities in Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Limited MRE Activities
Basic or limited MRE activities were recorded in 21 countries, including 11 States Parties (Bangladesh, Chad, Chile, Djibouti, Jordan, Malawi, Mauritania, the Philippines, Tunisia, Zambia and Zimbabwe) and 10 non-States Parties (Belarus, Burma, Burundi, China, India, Israel, Nepal, Poland, South Korea, and Ukraine), as well as the Falklands/Malvinas and Somaliland.
No MRE Activities
No MRE activities were recorded in 25 countries, including 11 States Parties (Algeria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Liberia, Moldova, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, and Venezuela) and 14 non-States Parties (Armenia, Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Iran, North Korea, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Somalia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan), as well Taiwan and Western Sahara.
A pressing need for MRE, or increased MRE, was apparent in Angola, Burma, Burundi, Chad, Georgia, India, Iran, Nepal and Somalia. Operators reported difficulties in obtaining funding for MRE activities in Angola, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Somaliland.
International MRE developments and evaluations
In 2002 and 2003, some key actors re-focused their community-based MRE programs on highly mine-affected communities, while using the media (radio and television) and the school system to reach the wider community. Emergency MRE was conducted in a number of places, including Iraq where at least four agencies provided MRE. They used different approaches to disseminate MRE messages, such as meetings with local and religious leaders, training of school teachers and Red Crescent volunteers, distribution of leaflets and posters, and production of television spots and newspaper articles.
There were signs of a closer integration of MRE with other components of mine action, as some mine clearance agencies developed MRE activities. Most mine action centers now have an MRE branch. Some MRE agencies developed ways to respond to communities’ clearance requests, while also reinforcing the exchange of information between MRE and survey.
UNICEF has been developing international standards (IMAS) for MRE since 2001. In 2002, it worked with Cranfield University and a User Focus Group made up of agencies and individuals recognized in the field of MRE to finalize the standards. A final draft of the standards should be presented during the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty.
At the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, States Parties agreed to change the name of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Awareness and Mine Action Technologies to the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies. In May 2003, mine-affected States Parties reported on MRE programs, in accordance with the “4P approach.” At least 24 mine-affected States have mentioned MRE in their Article 7 Reports, under Form I, ”measures to provide warning to the population.”
The ICBL’s Mine Risk Education Sub-Group of the ICBL Mine Action Working Group continued to serve as a resource on MRE issues for the ICBL and others during 2002 and 2003, with its co-chair, HIB, acting as Landmine Monitor’s thematic research coordinator for MRE. The Sub-Group co-organized two meetings together with UNICEF for mine risk education operators on 19 September 2002 and 13-14 March 2003, in Geneva. The Sub-Group delivered statements to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, as well as to the February and May 2003 intersessional Standing Committee meetings. These are available on the Sub-Group’s webpage at www.icbl.org.
In January 2002, UNMAS contracted HI to develop the second phase of the Landmine Safety Project (LSP). The project aims to “provide the UN and NGO staff with safety information, materials and training that will allow them to fulfill their mandates in a safe manner.” During its second phase starting in August 2002, LSP provided training to 126 people in Burma, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Poland, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Tajikistan, and Vietnam, as well as Chechnya and Western Sahara. A review of the project by UNMAS was scheduled in 2003.
Evaluations of MRE programs and KAP (knowledge, attitudes, practices) surveys were reported in Albania, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Laos, Senegal, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam and Yemen, as well as in Abkhazia and Somaliland.
In 2002, HI reinforced its KAP methodology for evaluating the effects of MRE. UNICEF reviewed its MRE work in 12 countries, but the results had not been made public as of July 2003. In Yemen, Rädda Barnen supported a participatory evaluation of its work with the Yemen Mine Awareness Association.
The ICRC commissioned an external evaluation of its MRE pilot programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and then-FR Yugoslavia. The evaluation commended the MRE programs for their high level of coverage and noted their effectiveness in changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. It stated, “For the same impact, television can be twenty times cheaper than theatre, or five times cheaper than posters and publications.” It called on ICRC to develop an ongoing monitoring capacity. The report said there was a “need to continue a more steady but more limited MA programme in each country,” advised the ICRC to “proceed with a selective involvement in EOD/clearance, possibly through an external standby mechanism,” and recommended a redefinition of the general objective of ICRC’s mine awareness as “generating an efficient risk information capacity.”
 For a broader definition of mine risk education, see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p.34.
 “Guide for the Management of Mine Risk Education,” IMAS 12.10 Draft Version 1.1e, UNMAS, 25 February 2003, pp.1-2.
 Other international agencies active in mine risk education include: the Association for Aid and Relief-Japan (AAR), the BBC/Afghan Education Project, Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief (CPAR), CAMEO, CARE, Caritas, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), DCA, DDG, 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, Nonviolence International, NPA, Oxfam, Peace Trees Vietnam, SBF, UNDP, VVAF, World Education, World Learning, World Rehabilitation Fund, World Vision. Some international private companies are also reported to implement MRE programs, including Humanitarian Force and MineTech.
 Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, FYR Macedonia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Sudan, Uganda, Vietnam and Yemen, as well as Chechnya, Kosovo, and Palestine.
 Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, Chile, DR Congo, Croatia, Djibouti, Ecuador, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, FYR Macedonia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Senegal, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.
 KAP MRE surveys look at knowledge, attitudes and practices of mine-affected communities in order to assess the needs and adapt MRE programs accordingly. For more information, see www.gichd.ch.
 A summary of the evaluation report is available at www.icrc.org.
 ICRC, “Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)/Kosovo. ICRC community-based mine/unexploded ordnance awareness programme,” Geneva, 4 November 2002.