Mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) are taking a heavy toll on Chadian civilians, particularly children who make up the majority of the victims of the deadly scourge in the African nation, according to the United Nations.
Some 95 people have been killed by mines and UXO this year in Chad, of whom 17 were killed and 78 injured, the majority of them children.
In the most recent incident on 28 August, one child was killed and five injured when a UXO they were playing with exploded in the eastern Chadian village of Tine, on the border with Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. Two of the five wounded children had limbs amputated.
“This is one more occurrence, in a fatal wave of UXO explosions affecting innocent civilians and especially children,” said Jean-François Basse, Child Protection Specialist with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena.
Prior to that, four people were killed and 30 wounded when a UXO exploded in a crowded market in N'Djamena on 4 August.
“This is just one of the dramatic aspects of continued civil warfare in this country,” Eliane Duthoit from the Office of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Chad said.
In a recent report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted that children continue to be the primary victims of the conflict in Chad – where Government forces have been battling rebel groups – whether they are recruited as soldiers, killed or hurt by landmines or denied humanitarian access.
The political, military and security situation in Chad remains “highly volatile,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote. “As a result, children are made to suffer.”
“Most of the problems are in the east and south-east of the country, but also in other areas affected by the latest rounds of fighting, including indeed the capital,” said Eva Faye of the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), which is working to support the Chadian National Demining Centre in clearing the country's territory of mines and UXO.
UNOPS, together with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), has been supporting the Chadian authorities since 1998 in devising mine action initiatives. In addition, UNICEF conducts awareness campaigns among refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and local communities on the dangers posed by mines and UXO.
While Chad's Humanitarian Appeal for 2008 includes three projects in the mine action sector, totaling just over $1 million, none of them are underway due to lack of funding.