Nearly half of all recorded civilian victims of mines and explosive remnants of war are children—and most do not return to school after their accidents. On April 4, the United Nations’ “International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action,” Handicap International calls on States to allocate the human and financial resources necessary to secure accessible education for all.
Children represented 46% of all civilian casualties (whose ages are known) in 2013, according to the Landmine Monitor 2014, published in November. The annual report counted at least 1,112 child casualties of mines, cluster bombs, and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in 39 States and three territories, killing 333 children, and injuring 779.
Accidents in Afghanistan, Syria and South Sudan helped fuel the increase in the number of child casualties in 2013–up from 39% in 2012. This is the second highest percentage of total annual child casualties since the Monitor began examining the ages of casualties in 2005.
DEPRIVED OF EDUCATION, CONDEMNED TO POVERTY
The majority of children with disabilities don’t complete primary school, according to UNICEF. And in many countries, children injured by a mine or ERW do not return to school following their accidents. Marion Libertucci, Handicap International’s operational advocacy unit manager, explains: “Families generally find themselves in a situation of extreme poverty because they have to cover the cost of post-accident medical care. They simply can’t afford to send their child to school. Injured in an accident then condemned to poverty, these children suffer a double blow.”
Impoverishment is not the only factor that makes it harder for children to return to school–recovery and rehabilitation takes months. “Once they’ve been taken out of school, it’s very difficult for a child to go back, especially if they are in a vulnerable situation, and suffering from serious trauma,” Libertucci says. “Other obstacles include physical factors—the distance between home and school, inaccessible classrooms, and problems with teacher training.”
The States Parties to the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention and the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions are officially obliged to implement assistance policies that take into account an injured person’s age. For children, this means, for example, that assistance must take into consideration the fact that they are growing and will need to change their artificial limbs or braces on a regular basis, and that governments must ensure that children who suffer the effects of mines and ERW, and other children with disabilities, can attend school.
Handicap International runs inclusive education programs in 26 countries. A member of the “Global Campaign for Education”, Handicap International calls on States to implement ambitious national policies, particularly in terms of accessibility, training, awareness-raising and the allocation of funds and human resource to ensure these policies are put into practice.
In honor of April 4, Handicap International is asking people all over the world to #StandwithKanha, a Cambodian teenage injured by an ERW as a little girl, but for home anything is possible thanks to a range of support from Handicap International.