MRE is one of the main pillars of mine action aimed at spreading safe behavior rules and messages among people living in mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) affected areas, at the same time ensuring safety of development and rehabilitation projects from the threat of explosive devices.
Our program covers population of 26 districts and towns of the republic, including internally displaced people from occupied territories settled in IDP camps and frontier areas.
After analysis and studying of demographical situation and national mentality, and needs of the local folks vulnerable to threat as well, we set up our MRE strategy of:
1. developing of a national capacity capable to educate people;
2. implementation of community based MRE activities and;
3. integration of MRE into curriculum of schools in near border and frontline districts.
Formed in 2000, the MRE Working Group (WG), consisting of representatives of several republic ministries, including representatives of district executive authorities, some international/national entities and some other NGOs, played great role in setting priority tasks, in discussions of current activities and adopting of annual work plan.
As a rule, ANAMA operational groups and support staff in the field, at the same time officers of the non-governmental national (RELIEF and IEPF) NGOs regularly conduct educational and awareness related talks, discussions and briefings at the beginning of their activities or before operations. So, at present these have become an essential part of all mine action related activities in communities.
Analysis of mine/ERW incidents show that casualties and deaths among civilians, especially among schoolchildren, in comparison with previous years decreased noticeably.
Community based activities
After organizing of intensive dissemination sessions and meetings with local residents the community members began their voluntary activities in mine/ERW contaminated areas.
The group leader selected by the volunteers takes obligations for submitting monthly reports on awareness/risk education activities, performed by the group members in their community, to the district coordinator at the end of each month. The district coordinator, on his/her turn, totals all reports, collected from all established MRE committee leaders, and sends to ANAMA HQs.
So, up to now 158 ‘MRE Committee’s have been established in 10 program targeted districts by our officers. Last year the group leaders organized different types of awareness trainings, talks, discussions and briefings for 26 663 residents. Our analysis show that the population are very sensitive to this problem than before. They immediately inform about found hazardous objects to local authority, ANAMA officials, MIA and MES’s “Hotline Call Centers”. Only in previous year the place of 16 mines and 4 841 ERW found and were reported by local residents.
Large MRE billboards have great impact on public awareness. In the previous year, more than 100 billboards were produced and set up on entrances and exits of the contaminated hazardous areas and on road sides.
We shall continue community based activities in the coming years too, so, we intend reestablishing of “MRE Committees” in 158 communities, selecting of the new members, providing them with new awareness materials, at the same time organizing of new billboards setting and replacing the old ones in places.
MRE during emergency situations
uring past years several explosions noticed in some strategic military plants of the republic. So, the first explosion happened in the military plant situated in Shirvan city area. At the result of explosion thousands of shells exploded and great majority of other ordnance scattered over the area where the local residents live. MRE officers together with other operators were immediately sent to the area. At the first stage risk reduction activities were implemented among the locals nearby, our specialists walked streets one by one, from home to home to aware the fared residents who lived in danger.
So, including children, the awareness work covered all categories of population, along with this they daily reported the found unexploded ordnance and shells, scattered over vast area, to the headquarters established in the yard of the plant. Altogether, within a month during risk reduction activities executed by MRE specialists 2 908 locals were awared and 1 446 different types of education materials distributed.
The next explosion, in summer, happened in the military deport situated in Khizy district, at the result thousands and thousands of different types of ordnance and shells scattered over the araes of nearby communities.
By the task of a formed government comission emergency risk education activities were implemented among the local population who lived around the military deport.
Education activities were conducted at schools, at houses, in the overcrowded places, in the farms, generally, in all inhabited and non-inhabited corners.
So, in a shortest period of time the inhabitants became aware and the the threats that would happen in future overcame. The education activities covered 9 247 residents and 898 different types of materials were distributed among them.
School program activities
Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (on May 11, 2004) on integration of MRE into school curriculum by the leaders of the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan Republic, ANAMA and UNICEF allowed resolution of a lot of problems that have been pending for years.
A ‘Methodical Board’ was formed just after signing of Memorandum. A resolution on development of textbooks for students and manuals for teachers was adopted. The already experienced 16 “Master Trainers”, who had full training course, began to train local teachers in mine-affected districts applying and using modern training methods.
Altogether, including trainings in previous years, 195 training sessions for 3 635 teachers from 1 200 schools in 26 districts have been conducted. Total of teachers attended during 10 years consisted of 1 200 males and 2 435 females. Every year, 55 000 students in secondary schools have MRE classes. Up-to now, 765 000 students in the secondary schools have been targeted.
Analysis of the incidents in past years show that study of MRE at schools significantly impacted to decrease the number of mine/ERW incidents among children.
Since signing of Memorandum of Understanding, altogether 109 000 textbooks for students and 6 900 manuals for teachers, at the same time various types of awareness materials, have been produced and distributed to education departments. For effective conduction of the lessons, additionally, the selected schools have been provided with different types of training posters, too.
Based on our strategic plan it has been intended that to conduct monitoring at 1200 schools, provide all schools with textbooks and teachers manuals and publish additional materials in 2020.
Collaboration with national/international entities
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society (Az.RCS) and ANAMA on collection of mine/ERW incidents and casualties’ data has been signed. Based on MoU AzRCS officers of district branches fill in special IMSMA forms for injured or dead residents few days later incidents and forward them to ANAMA HQs. Along with this in close collaboration with AzRCS and the ICRC more than 60 large billboards, produced by our Agency, set up in hazardous areas of contaminated communities in near border and frontline districts, at the same time awareness and risk education activities conducted among the residents around.
At present, ANAMA MRE department owns experienced officers who are able to organize trainings and seminars for staff members of international NGOs and MACs. Thus, the previous years, due to effective use of capacity in mine action and MRE related trainings for several groups from Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and Georgia, were very important and significant.
By the task of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan the Cabinet of Ministers, within frames of non-military humanitarian assistance to Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, beginning from 2009, ANAMA has continued its activities on different purposes. So, together with preparation of the specialists on demining affairs, at the same time, by our support a pilot project on MRE has also been commenced.
After translating of the existing MRE book and the manual into English, we tried to finalize the process, so, by the support of Afghani specialists those books were translated into Dari language. At the first stage, within the pilot project by the financial support of Azerbaijani Government, we produced 24 000 units of books for students and 1 500 manuals for teachers and delivered to the Republic Ministry of Education and Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA).
ANAMA specialists sent to Afghanistan had official meetings with ANDMA, Department for Mine Clearance (DMC), and Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan (MACCA) responsible officers, at the same time they came with advantageous, for both sides, suggestions. Later, our specialists visited ANDMA, Ministry of Education and Country Parliament and had significant and important meetings with the officials of those entities too.
A press conference, regarding 'handing over' ceremony of the books financed by the Government of Azerbaijan within its ‘non-military’ humanitarian support program for Afghani students, was organized in Kabul city which was broadcasted through 5- 6 local TV channels and some other means of media.
According to the trip program, with the support of DMC and MACCA specialists, methodical briefings for 950 teachers (in Kabul city and Parvan province) conducted. So, beginning from the 2010 academic year, integration of MRE into curricula of schools has officially been approved by the Ministry of Education of Afghanistan.