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2007.04.09
* UNICEF: Awareness campaign helps protect Colombian children from deadly landmines * 01 Mar 2007 Army engineers will train dogs to sniff out explosives, such as rudimentary -- but sometimes lethal –landmines that are commonly used in Colombia’s long-standing internal war between Government troops, guerrillas, and paramilitary forces. But there is no humanitarian de-mining in Colombia. Because of the conflict, landmines and unexploded ordnance lurk in many areas of the countryside. SOUNDBITE (English) Sharon Ball, UNICEF mine action officer: “Last year alone we had 65 new child victims” Child victims like Irma Janeth, now 16, who was only ten years old when she put her left foot on landmine while walking through the woods. The explosion tore off her leg and left her unable to ever bear children. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) child mine victim Irma Janeth: “It’s too horrible, what happens to people with these mines.” Irma Janeth is determined to put the past behind her. SOUNDBITE (Spanish) child mine victim Irma Janeth: “How do to get on with your life if you just keep crying about what happened to you? Having lost two years of school because of the accident, she’s now resumed her studies. But like other young victims, she will still need help. SOUNDBITE (English) Sharon Ball, UNICEF mine action officer: “A child victim will need a new prosthesis every 4 months especially if they’re living in a rural area because of wear and tear – and that’s a dramatic cost for a family coming from a poor area”. In rural areas, where 96 percent of mine-related accidents take place, a heavy toll is taken on young lives even when children are physically unscathed. These kids will likely struggle to complete their schooling. Their father has lost the use of his leg -- and one eye -- to a landmine. He’s now unable to farm his small plot of land. The impact of accidents like these on local communities is devastating, says mine risk educator Martina Murillo: SOUNDBITE (Spanish) Martina Murillo, mine risk educator: “It’s created panic among people here “ Making children wise to the dangers landmines is one way to fight the panic -- using songs and games. Until nationwide de-mining can be undertaken here, prevention measures like these -- coupled with help for the victims’ families -- are the most realistic ways to counter the constant threat of landmines.
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