Pakistan

Safe disposal of silent killers

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Author: Farhan hafeez

When the Community Based Risk Education Focal Person asked the dealers if they had any Unexploded Ordnance in their scrapyards, they refused to share any information from fear of arrest by the police

IGNORANCE IS NOT BLISS: A PRCS professional educates owners and workers at a scrapyard about the threat posed by the Unexploded Ordnance.

READY FOR DISPOSAL: Police officers stand with the Unexploded Ordnance collected from different scrapyards.

A teenage boy working at a scrapyard in Lower Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was handling a waste piece of iron when it exploded with a deafening sound, killing him on the spot.

This waste piece of iron that the boy was treating as unharmful like hundreds of pieces he daily dealt with turned out to be a UXO (Unexploded Ordnance). He was the sole breadwinner of a poor family, leaving them out on a limb. No sooner this sad news hit the eardrums of the Community Based Risk Education (CBRE) team head than he decided to save the lives of other scrap dealers in the locality through the Mine Risk Education (MRE) program.

The team adopted the following steps:

Assessment of scrap shops in Timergra Bazaar Liaison

Informal session/one to one sensitization UXO/IED identification

Planning for safe removal of UXO from different scrapyards.

IDENTIFICATION OF SCRAPYARDS: The team visited Timergara Bazaar and identified 46 scrapyards where more than 100 owners and workers were working. They team met some of them to develop liaison and shared the basic objective of the visit.

In the next step, the team visited shops and told the owners and workers about the explosion in which the young boy was killed.

Informal sessions were conducted in which the participants were shown pictures of different explosives.

POVERTY, LACK OF EDUCATION BLAMED FOR DEATH: When the team asked the scrap dealers as to who was responsible for the unfortunate death of the boy, an old man among the scrap dealers blamed it on poverty and a lack of knowledge.

LACK OF COOPERATION: When the team asked the dealers if they had such objects in their scrapyards, they sealed their lips, refusing to share information from fear of arrest by the police. The only useful thing was that they gave the team their contact numbers.

THE ICE BREAKS: The next day they called in the CBRE Focal Person for a meeting. The scrap dealers told him that they had such materials in their shops shown by the CBRE team.

The team advised them to bring this issue into the notice of the area police and other law enforcement agencies (LEAs) but they drew back in fear. The CBRE team advised them to constitute a committee under the leadership of bazaar union president and to meet the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP).

The scrap dealers met their president as per the CBRE team instructions. The president constituted a committee that met the DSP.

JOB DONE: The DSP assured the committee that no one would be arrested. As per agreement, the DSP deployed the Bomb Disposal Unit (BDU) in the area to collect dangerous objects and defuse them as soon as possible. The BDU searched each scrap shop and collected 26 dangerous items. It was due to effective mobilization and strong coordination among the community, police and other law enforcement agencies that a potential threat to the lives of scrap dealers and the general public was eliminated. The community, traders and authorities were all praise for the CBRE team.

The contributor is District Officer CBRE, Lower Dir