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AZERBAIJAN: WORKING WITH JOURNALISTS TO REDUCE IMPACT OF MINES AND EXPLOSIVE REMNANTS OF WAR

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in close cooperation with the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) and the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines (AzCBL) held a workshop for local journalists to raise their awareness about the important role of the media in reducing the problems caused by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). The Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society selected seven journalists from affected regions of Azerbaijan who attended the workshop on mine action from 14 to 16 November 2006 in the Khanlar Regional Office of ANAMA. During the workshop the presentations have been made on preventive mine action and mine victim assistance, as well as on the international norms related to mines and ERW. Journalists had also an opportunity to witness a mine clearance conducted by the ANAMA, as well as to visit a project of reintegration of mine victims in Azerbaijan through vocational rehabilitation and establishing of association of mine survivors. The ICRC mine action responsible from the Northern Caucasus and a journalist from Chechnya shared their experience of working with media on mine related issues. Both of them had a chance to learn about the mine action activities in Azerbaijan and in particular the important role of the national mine action centre there. Information Manager of ANAMA, Aziz Aliyev, noted that the media is not for providing people with opportunities of "effectively" spending their free time, but for sensitizing them to the problems of their country and their communities, mobilizing for solution of these problems with mine problem involved. "Nobody can remain indifferent to mine threat and to those who suffers from it," he stressed. Tofiq Yusif, chief editor of "Yeni Terter" newspaper said: "During this workshop I became aware that mine problem is a serious problem for civilian population and the attention should be paid to this issue constantly. Apart from providing information to the public, which we did so far, we should educate people about safe behavior and how to protect themselves from this threat. We as journalists have a moral responsibility to support mine victims and therefore we have to present their problems to the society. As of today I have decided that this issue should be regularly on the agenda of our newspaper bearing in mind the high level of risk existing in Terter region." "By working together, the journalists and mine action actors can effectively contribute to reducing the risk from mines and ERW for the civilian population. The stories about victims and other problems caused by mines and ERW, published by journalists raise the awareness about the devastating effect of these weapons on people's lives - and of possible solutions - and contribute to the overall efforts to reduce impact," Herbi Elmazi, ICRC Regional Mine Action Advisor of CIS countries, said.