Somali women in mine action

4 Apr 2014

Somali women in mine action

Mogadishu, 4 April - Living in a settlement for internally displaced people in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, Amina Dualleh Ahmed’s life is a constant cycle of challenges, further compounded by her son’s disability.

She is grateful, however, that the mine explosion that saw her son lose a leg did not kill him. Two children lost their lives in the same accident. They had been playing in a former combat zone.

“It is not good to regret,” she says, urging mothers to think about the dangers in the country that could leave their children disabled. Amina’s story is just one of thousands.

“We have to make our children aware of areas that are dangerous and prohibited,” she adds.

Following more than two decades of conflict, Somalia continues to suffer the effects of explosive remnants of war. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is committed to increasing women’s contribution to all sectors of mine action work across the country, working hand in hand with the local community to execute this.

As part of efforts to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness on 4 April, UNMAS conducted a number of activities in Mogadishu, which were aimed at creating awareness about land mines. Together with the Somalia Humanitarian Demining Organization (SOHDO), a local NGO, the teams conducted several activities around the city.

This included the display of 10,000 red balloons with mine risk awareness messages around the city and sensitization at a school, an IDP settlement and a youth centre.

This year’s efforts saw women playing a stronger role in the dissemination of information on the dangers of mines to Somalia’s youth in order to free Somalia from the risks they pose.

“The role of women in UNMAS is at the frontline of peace and security and stabilizing the country. Therefore, to have women out there visibly leading in this dangerous traditionally male dominated mine action work is incredibly important,” says Elena Rice, senior programme officer at UNMAS.

UNMAS collaborates with partners in Somalia, including SOHDO, to ensure an effective, proactive and coordinated response to the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.

SOHDO conducts mine risk education for Somali civilians through three teams, consisting of 12 men and women.

“Its formation came at a time when Somalis were in total anarchy, lack of security, civil strife and displacements, one of the worst periods in the country’s history, “ explains the organization’s head, Eng. Mohamed Ahmed Mohamoud, noting that considerable progress has been registered.