The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has expressed concern about increased deaths and serious injuries to children involved in landmine explosions which have claimed at least 30 lives since June in Somalia.
Nejmudin Kedir Bilal, acting UNICEF representative in Somalia, said several children have been victims in three separate incidents that involved discharges of unexploded ordnances in recent days. “Countrywide, at least four children are reported dead, and five children have been left with life-threatening injuries after playing with remnants of war,” Bilal said in a statement issued in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, Saturday evening.
The UNICEF called upon all parties to the conflict in Somalia to conduct regular risk mapping, take responsibility for handling explosive remnants of war with care, and clear existing mines and unexploded devices.
It’s unacceptable that these occurrences are increasing in Somalia, following the reported deaths of six children in a landmine explosion in Hirshabelle State in June, and the reported 20 children’s deaths in South-West State, in July, Bilal said. “We offer heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of the victims. Every child has a right to a safe and protective environment. This must be a top priority in all situations, especially in Somalia, where the protracted conflict has left behind a legacy of explosive hazards.”
He said there is a need for scaled-up explosive ordnance risk education among children and communities, promising that the UNICEF will work closely with the government and humanitarian actors to reduce the risks that landmines and explosive remnants of war present to children.
“This involves technical guidance and programming on risk education,” Bilal added.
More than 1,200 Somali civilians were killed or injured in 2022 due to explosive ordnance, including explosive remnants of war, landmines and improvised explosive devices, according to the UN.