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By The Australian Government

Australia will provide $2.4 million for prosthetics and the rehabilitation of Iraqi landmine survivors and other victims of conflict.

This assistance through the United Nations Development Programme builds on our existing support for mine clearance activities across Iraq, through which more than 9.4 million square meters of land has been cleared. It will continue to prevent injuries from landmines and other explosive remnants of war, and help and support survivors.

Australia will also donate 10 Australian-made landmine detectors to the United Nations in Nepal to help clear 45 minefields across the country and reduce the risk of death and disability.

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By United Nations Children’s Fund

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

GENEVA, 3 April 2009 – Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to pose an enormous threat to children worldwide, UNICEF noted today in the lead up to the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April.

Every day, civilians in dozens of countries around the world are injured and killed by landmines and other lethal leftovers of conflict, years after hostilities of war have ended. In 2007 alone, an estimated 5,426 people were killed or maimed by mines and other explosive devices that have been left behind by armed forces.

Children – particularly boys – are most likely to be harmed and account for over 30 per cent of all victims of landmines and ERW, which they often mistake for toys.

Approximately 60 per cent of ERW casualties in 2007 were children – some 49 per cent were boys, with girls making up around 12 per cent of the victims.

Injuries can include loss of arms and legs, sight or hearing and often cause lifelong disabilities that mean victims require urgent care and long-term support. However, in some countries where these injuries occur, the absence of medical care and rehabilitation capacity means children are unable to attend school and thus their prospects in life are limited.

When parents are killed or maimed by landmines, the lives of children are also severely affected. Childhood without one or both parents may be marred by inadequate nutrition or immunization, lack of protection from exploitation and abuse, or early withdrawal from school to supplement family income.

Uncleared landmines/ERW also interrupt the lives of whole communities. Accessing homes, schools, health and other social services, can become a challenge and when farmlands become mine fields, well-being and livelihoods of families are also damaged.

As of August 2008 – a decade after the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force – over 70 states are still believed to be affected by mines. Over 25 states are contaminated by unexploded cluster bombs and submunitions.

The elimination of landmines and ERW and improved capacities to meet the needs of victims and assist with their reintegration into societies are essential, if children in affected countries are to be able reach their full potential. This requires international and donor assistance to support countries and organizations working to reduce the damage caused by landmines and ERW.

http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/MUMA-7QS4A2?OpenDocument

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By Lisa Schlein, Voice of America

The International Committee of the Red Cross says political instability and fighting is worsening in Pakistan and Afghanistan and civilians are bearing the brunt of these conflicts.

The committee says the armed conflict in Afghanistan is intensifying and affecting more areas of the country. It says civilians are suffering severe hardship in the northwest of Pakistan due to an increasingly volatile security situation.

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By Frieda Berrigan, Foreign Policy in Focus

Good news is in short supply. The economy remains bleak. The war in Iraq entered its seventh year last week, and violence reaches new pinnacles in Afghanistan. But there is one bright light amid all this gloom. Real progress is being made to ban cluster munitions. These are canisters of different sizes that release hundreds of bomblets on detonation, scattering deadly devices over an area as large as several football fields.

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By BBC News
Sri Lanka fury at ‘aid coalition’

The Sri Lankan government has attacked what it calls a “vicious coalition” of aid and humanitarian agencies for their actions over the country’s civil war.

The defence ministry said those “pretending to be humanitarian and aid agencies” were prolonging the conflict “to secure their income”.

Rights and aid groups have continued to criticise both the government and Tamil Tiger rebels over civilian casualties.

A new Human Rights Watch report again condemns “indiscriminate shelling”.

‘Hardcore cadre’

The defence ministry website said the “vicious coalition” that had “been pretending to be humanitarian agencies, aid agencies, free media, civil rights movements, etc, have made the continued bloodshed on Sri Lankan soil a lucrative business for them”.

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By the Advitiser

Wars around the globe have killed three times more people in the second half of the 20th century than previously estimated, a study released yesterday shows.

About 5.4 million deaths were caused by armed conflicts between 1955 and 2003 in 13 nations surveyed, ranging from 7000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo to 3.8 million in Vietnam. (more…)

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Conference opens in Dublin to ban cluster bombs

By Robin Millard
Agence France Presse

Representatives from around 100 countries opened a 12-day conference Monday in a bid to agree a global ban on cluster bombs, one of the most lethal weapons facing civilians caught up in conflict.

The talks, at Dublin’s Croke Park Gaelic sports stadium, is aiming for a wide-ranging pact that would completely wipe out the use, production and stockpiling of cluster bombs by its signatories. (more…)

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