SOMALIA: The Big Day
Community Liason staff lead the public march through Garowe.
Held annually on 4 April, International Mine Action Day is an important occasion designed to raise awareness about Explosive Remnants of War, which continue to pose a threat to individuals and communities in all three regions of Somalia.
Walking into the Nuwaawi Intermediary School in Garowe, MAG’s Community Liaison teams were greeted with a sign: “Learn today, teach tomorrow”.
It was a fitting message, as Risk Education encourages everyone to spread the word about risks associated with Explosive Remants of War (ERW).
Bright red wristbands were given to all students, who proudly displayed them and shouted the message written on them: “Don’t touch unexploded ordnance!”
The wristbands were launched by MAG in early 2011 to reinforce the safety messages displayed on classroom posters and storyboard leaflets.
Mine Action cooperation
Students at Nuwawi Primary School learn about Mine Risk Education.
Everyone marched together to the government ministries' compound, displaying banners with messages such as “No Arms but Farms” and “UXO, a silent killer” in English and Somali.The spirit of cooperation is strong within the Mine Action sector, so members of United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the Puntland Mine Action Centre (PMAC), Danish Demining Group (DDG), Handicap International (HI), Puntland Government Ministries (Women, Education, Labour, Sport and Security) and local non-governmental organisations joined forces with MAG on 4 April to raise the profile of the vital work being carried out in the country.
Chants of “Peace in Garowe” and “Don’t touch the UXO!” rang out, sending messages to the people lined up to watch the rally.
Following speeches by UNMAS and PMAC, the Vice President of Puntland addressed the crowd, commending the continued ERW clearance as well as the efforts of the MAG Community Liaison teams and other Mine Action agencies.
Two representatives of MAG’s Community Liaison teams then addressed the crowd, proudly announcing that in the past six months more than 19,100 people had received Risk Education from the teams. This news brought great applause.
The crowd were then entertained with the energy, comedy and music of the Garowe Music Group’s ten-minute performance about the risk of UXO.
A sporting Chance
PMAC Director addresses the crowd at the public rally in Garowe town center. [Photos by MAG Somalia]
After lunch, more than 150 people turned out to watch a football match between two local teams – Reds (Hantiwadaag) v Blacks (Waberi) – at Garowe Stadium, which Hantiwadaag won 2–1.
The inaugural “Mine Action Day Cup” was presented by the Director and the Operations Manager of PMAC, Minister of Sport and Labour, and the UNMAS Chief of Operations and Capacity Building Technical Advisor.
Following the presentation, one of the players approached a MAG Community Liaison Officer and asked, “I would like to give the team a bit of information, can you help us?”
The CL officer gave an impromptu Risk Education session to the teams and handed out safety message leaflets.
There was perhaps no better example to highlight the achievements of the day.
MAG thanks the following donors to its Somalia operations: Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, US Department of State; Act for Peace