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LIBYA > EDUCATION, TRAINING AND RESEARCH

Don’t touch, stay safe n Children discussing the danger of handling weapons

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Despite the official end of the Libyan uprising, explosive remnants of war and small arms continue to pose a threat to the lives of the civilian population, particularly children. The European Union and UNICEF support Libya’s effort to raise awareness of the dangers and to keep children safe. In total, over 240 teachers have attended training of trainers sessions, and are now master trainers. And 650,000 people – mostly children – have been reached with awareness messages. An EU Neighbourhood Info Centre journalist has this report. Text by: Reda Fhelboom Pictures by: AFP © EU/Neighbourhood Info Centre

TRIPOLI - “I felt nothing when it happened: I picked up this bullet, I thought I could play with it, so I started hitting it against the tar, then it exploded and everything turned black…” Mahmoud is nine years old, and last year a blast took his right hand away. He is a victim of a war whose consequences continue to hit hard. Since the Second World War, Libya has been contaminated by explosive remnants of war. Landmines have been used during different regional conflicts, but the situation has worsened dramatically since the outbreak of the 17 February revolution, when rockets, grenades and mines were cast all over the place, and the country was flooded with small and light weapons. Despite the official end of the Libyan uprising, explosive remnants of war and small arms continue to pose a threat to the lives of the civilian population, particularly children. "Kids are more at risk of being injured because these items are often colourful and shiny, and are mistaken for toys," says Lucille Knight, Child Protection Specialist at UNICEF, adding: "As for small arms, their constant exposure This publication does in homes, in the streets, and even in the movies, normalizes the very existence of these weapons and increases not represent the the chances for these children to find it normal to get hold of them official view of the EC and use them.” or the EU institutions. EU Neighbourhood Info Centre When it comes to the proliferation of weapons and their availability to The EC accepts no Feature no. 111 children, the responsibility of adults is high: “It is very important for adults responsibility or This is a series of features on projects liability whatsoever to understand that they need to safely dispose of weapons,” continues Ms funded by the EU, prepared by with regard to its Knight, “making sure they are unloaded, and ammunitions kept in a journalists and photographers on the content. separate place.” ground or the EU Neighbourhood According to the UNICEF specialist, there is no formal reporting Info Centre. mechanism in place for what concerns small and light weapons, but 87 © 2013 EU/Neighbourhood Info Centre casualties were reported from March to May 2013 through scanning of


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Don’t touch, stay safe EU Neighbourhood Info Centre – Feature no. 111

n Teachers Abdullah Abdul Salam Al Husoma (L) and Taher Abu Nawara looking at different kinds of weapons

media and security reports alone. "Tripoli is perceived to be the region most likely susceptible to small weapons’ incidents," she says. Teachers training teachers to reach kids: a life-saving chain In May 2011, UNICEF started its engagement in mine risk education in eastern Libya as well as in Misrata. “By the beginning of 2012, more than 100 Libyan schools had been cleared of remnants of war and rehabilitated,” says Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Representative. “At the same time, a large number of teachers and members of local NGOs were trained to deliver risk education sessions to the children, and to distribute materials to help raise awareness and keep Libyan children safe.” In December 2011, the EU allocated €2.4 million for an education programme through UNICEF to improve the quality of basic education, including the development of teaching materials and teacher training, with a focus on the most vulnerable children. But since the risk of mines was still high, the EU decided to also provide €2 million funding for mine clearance. These resources enabled the removal of unexploded ordinances and booby traps in many battleground areas in Libya. But the need to stress awareness of the danger was widespread. In 2011 and 2012, two mine risk education workshops were held in Tripoli, under the leadership of the Libyan Ministry of Education, supported by UNICEF and the EU, and with the participation of the Libyan Ministry of Defence, the United Nations Mine Action Service and non-governmental organizations involved in the clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war. As a result, a plan for a comprehensive programme was designed to be delivered in all Libyan schools. “Training of trainers, sessions for teachers and inspectors, from different parts of the country, have been conducted during 2012/2013 to prepare them as master trainers,” says Najia Sabkha, coordinator at the Ministry of Education. “Today there are 243 master trainers engaged in training other teachers across the country.” Thousands of songs to pass the message After attending an intensive training course in December 2011, Khiare Bilhaj, the coordinator in the city of Zawiya, called the education authority in town to nominate two teachers from each school in the city. “Twenty-four teachers from 12 schools responded to the call and attended the course, and are now ready to deliver their knowledge to fellow teachers and children,” says Mr Bilhaj. “I have benefited from the course myself,” agrees Taher Abu Nawara, a teacher at Shibani Bin Nasrat School in Zawiya. “I am ready to share the skills with others in my school, and I am looking forward to receive the teacher’s kit that has been prepared by the Ministry of Education, in cooperation with UNICEF and Handicap International." “We have distributed millions of leaflets and posters to

“Kids are more at risk of being injured because these items are often colourful and shiny, and are mistaken for toys. As for small arms, their constant exposure in homes, in the streets, and even in the movies, normalizes the very existence of these weapons…”

“By now, about 650,000 children and adults have better knowledge of the risks of mines and unexploded ordnance”

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Educational material for middle school students explaining the dangers of handling weapons left behind in post-conflict zones


Don’t touch, stay safe

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EU Neighbourhood Info Centre – Feature no. 111

primary and secondary schools,” adds Ms Sabkha, “and also over 6,000 CDs with awareness songs. As part of the outreach programme, awareness messages were also printed on the covers of textbooks. By now, about 650,000 children and adults have better knowledge of the risks of mines and unexploded ordnance.” For further support in the classrooms, a teacher's kit has been designed, with different modules on landmines, unexploded ordinance, small and light weapons. “A teacher’s booklet and a children's activity book will be merged in one kit, which is now under its final development stage. It will be distributed to all schools across Libya," concludes Ms Sabkha. “I’m now aware of the danger,” says Hosam Nayif, a year nine student at Shibani Bin Nasrat School. "The posters on the school board have given me good advice not to touch or approach strange objects on the street and to stay away from weapons and explosives."

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Hossam Bassem Flute with a school friend look at different kinds of explosive war remnants

Better trained teachers are key to quality education “I’m now aware of the danger. The posters on the As part of ongoing efforts to improve the quality of school board have given me good advice not to education in Libya, the European Union and UNICEF are touch or approach strange objects on the street supporting authorities in enhancing access to quality and to stay away from weapons and explosives." education for all children, with special focus on the most vulnerable ones. “For example, more than 140 teachers have been trained on child rights, child-centred teaching and positive discipline,” says Katharina Imhof, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Libya. One component of the project is to study various aspects of the Libyan teaching system, such as teachers’ qualification, motivation, recruitment, deployment and management. Classroom observations aim at and lead to action for improved teaching. “Prior to this, a nationwide school assessment on 4,800 schools was conducted,” says Ms Imhof: “the data and analysis of both studies will inform a high level road map for more effective teachers’ management, the establishment of a solid Education Management Information System and enhanced child-friendly school environments. All this action lays a solid ground to enhance education administration and governance."

Mine Risk Education The project aims to raise awareness of the danger of explosive remnants of war and small arms and to reduce the danger of civilian population, particularly children, being exposed to the risk, by delivering ‘train the trainers’ sessions of mine risk education to teachers and members of local NGOs, and by distributing informative materials. Timeframe: May 2012 September 2013

To find out more: UNICEF in Libya: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/laj.html

Budget : €335,000

EU support to Libya http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=MEMO/11/779&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN& guiLanguage=en EU Neighborhood Info Centre - Libya: EU adopts €10 million package for education, administration and civil society http://enpi-info.eu/medportal/news/latest/27475/Libya:-EU-adopts-%E2%82%AC10-million-package-foreducation,-administration-and-civil-society EU Neighborhood Info Centre - Libya http://www.enpi-info.eu/countrymed.php?country=11

EU Neighbourhood Info Centre An ENPI project The EU Neighbourhood Info Centre is an EU-funded Regional Information and Communication project highlighting the partnership between the EU and Neighbouring countries. The project is managed by Action Global Communications.

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Libya feature mine awareness eng  
Libya feature mine awareness eng  

Feature in English on mine awareness in Libya

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