After decades of armed conflict, the Lake Chad region remains littered with explosive remnants of war. Humanity & Inclusion (which operates under the name of Handicap International) puts up warning signs around hazardous areas and runs risk education sessions to help protect locals from the dangers of explosive remnants.
A two-person risk education team from HI is teaching people living in Baga Sola and Liwa, in Chad’s Lake region, how to spot, avoid, and report any weapons they may find in their communities. These sessions are held outside in the shade, in front of a mosque, or in school playground 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. Since January 2018, six thousand individuals, of which the majority are displaced after fleeing the violence of Boko Haram, have taken part in these risk educations sessions.
When an explosive remnant is found, a sign is put up as a warning to local people. MAG, a partner organization, 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 it been covered by sand? Are necessary warning signs still there and visible?
Warning signs often disappear. Sometimes they are buried in the sand or taken and used by local people for firewood. That’s why, our team regularly returns to sites to make sure the signs are still there and visible. Some explosive remnants are recovered by Boko Haram for use as improvised explosive devices.
Once individuals been informed of the risks, they are more alert and are better equipped to stay safe from explosive remnants identified by HI. This reduces the number of accidents before the area can be cleared of explosive weapons.
By the end of this year, HI and its partner organizations will begin clearing explosives in North Chad. Learn more about the work we’re doing in Chad.
 Mines Advisory Group
As the Iraqi authorities announced the end of the battle in Mosul on Sunday, July 9, Handicap International is worried about the aftermath and the immense trauma that the civilian populations experienced during nine months of intense battle. Since the beginning of the offensive, in October 2016, more than one million people have been displaced. Two weeks ago, forces launched the final assault on the old city, where hundreds of thousands of civilians were still trapped.
"The fighting has been very intense and civilians have faced an extremely risky situation," says Elisa Fourt, Project Manager for Handicap International in Iraq. "There are several reports of thousands of people who have been used as human shields. Hundreds more were shot when they tried to flee the conflict. In cooperation with other humanitarian actors, we try every day to help the wounded who are still arriving in hospitals. And we also intervene with the displaced population in the camps, among whom are a large number of people in need of rehabilitation care. More than 15,000 civilians have been wounded since the start of the offensive (people referred to the hospital) and thousands more were killed in the fighting.”
Malnutrition and trauma
"A number of civilians who have managed to escape the city also suffer from malnutrition and are in a state of extreme fatigue,” Fourt adds. “Our teams work with many people who are in a state of psychosocial distress in the face of what they have experienced in recent months. Some witnessed scenes of torture, crimes and survived in extremely difficult conditions."
Handicap International has deployed field psychologists for the most severe cases of trauma. Of the 800,000 internally displaced Iraqis who remain in the camps, many civilians have lost their homes and are so traumatized that they are not considering returning at this stage.
Increase in returns
In addition to assisting the displaced, the association also intervenes to help civilians who have already made the decision to resettle in Mosul. Since the start of the offensive, more than 200,000 civilians have already returned to their neighborhoods. This trend is likely to increase in the coming weeks come.
"More and more people are deciding to go home,” Fourt notes. “Living conditions in the camps are particularly difficult: it is very hot, there is still no electricity, so there are many displaced people who choose to return, despite the risks. Explosive remnants of war still very present throughout the city. We are raising awareness of the dangers of explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices, so that they can identify and protect themselves when they’re back in Mosul and surrounding areas."
Handicap International and the Iraqi crisis
More than 200,000 people have benefited from Handicap International’s actions since the launch of its emergency operations in Iraq in 2014. The organization’s actions are regularly reviewed and adjusted to ensure they take into account a highly volatile situation across the whole of Iraqi territory. Handicap International currently organizes population protection activities, raises awareness of the risk from mines and conventional and unconventional weapons, conducts non-technical surveys and clears hazardous areas, provides physical and functional rehabilitation, psychosocial and psychological support, supports health centers, organizes training and advocacy and provides technical support to partners to enhance the inclusion of vulnerable people (people with disabilities, casualties, older people, and others) within their services.
To support Handicap International's work in Iraq, click here.
Simon Elmont is a demining expert protecting civilians from explosive remnants of war in Iraq by clearing areas contaminated in previous and ongoing conflicts, including the territories occupied by the Islamic State. Simon recently made time to tell us about his work.Read more
Bombs under the rubble — Study of awareness of explosive remnants of war among the populations of Gaza (2015)
This baseline assessment was undertaken by Humanity & Inclusion in October 2014 in Gaza.The focus was to collect baseline data related to the knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding explosive remnants of war contamination in communities impacted by the recent conflict. View report here.
This paper examines the lives of victims/survivors of landmines by tracking their historical background, the accident and their present conditions. A broader victim assistance and disability framework serves as the backdrop of analysis in this report. View report here
This guide provides a systematic basis for the implementation of a KAP (knowledge, attitudes and practices) survey on landmines and explosive remnants of war. View report here
Humanity & Inclusion recommendations to support stakeholders involved in creating and updating National Action Plans on Victim Assistance (2010-2014), in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights standards. View report here
Ninety-eight percent of people killed or injured by cluster submunitions are civilians living in the aftermath of war. This Humanity & Inclusion report documents the impact of cluster munitions on the lives of people and communities in 25 countries and territories. View the report here.
Knowledge, attitudes, practices related to landmine and unexploded ordnance: North West zone, Somalia (2007)
This study evaluates the impact of the Mine Risk Education project implemented by Humanity & Inclusion in Somaliland, by gathering information on the evolution of the population’s knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding mine and unexploded ordnance safety and awareness. View report here
Recommendations for the victim assistance provisions in a treaty banning cluster munitions: A practitioners’ perspective (2007)
This document provides common recommendations for victim assistance provisions, which should be included in a future treaty to ensure that its implementation will respond to the needs and rights of cluster munition victims. View report here
What rights for mine victims? Reparation, compensation: From legal analysis to political perspectives (2005)
This study examines different areas of international law in order to compile the potential legal means which could be claimed by landmine victims, allowing for compensation. View report here
Acting Against Landmines: The Position of Handicap International (now known as Humanity & Inclusion) (2001)
Humanity & Inclusion helped to initiate and run an international movement aimed at the total prohibition of landmines: the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). View report here
Towards Real Assistance to Landmine Victims: the Position of Handicap International (now known as Humanity & Inclusion) (2000)
By banning antipersonnel landmines, States Parties committed themselves to providing assistance to landmine victims. Despite the efforts first made and the declarations of intention, much remains to be done in the area of victim assistance. View report here
Libyans are in danger. Millions of small arms and light weapons are in circulation, posing huge threats to the population, which isn't trained to use them.Read more