August 10, 2007 09:50 ET

Landmines Uprooted by Floods Pose Serious Risk, UNICEF Says

Landmines Could Cause Casualties as Flood Waters Recede in Nepal

KATHMANDU, NEPAL--(Marketwire - Aug. 10, 2007) - As the water recedes, landmines uprooted by monsoon flooding are emerging as an urgent threat to families and children in Nepal, a Canadian UNICEF expert reports.

"While the worst of the flooding is finished in Nepal, we continue to cope with the threat of diseases, homelessness and starvation. And now we have a new danger to deal with: landmines that were previously buried have been moved by the floods. These explosives are extremely dangerous to anyone who comes across them," said Canadian-national Joanne Doucet, Chief of UNICEF Nepal's Child Protection Section.

"Children are at greatest risk because of their curious nature; there is a real danger that they will pick up and play with a displaced landmine, not knowing what it is. We are monitoring this situation very closely."

UNICEF is distributing emergency landmine-risk education kits containing images and information alerting people to the danger of landmines. Kits also provide instructions on who to contact to have an uncovered landmine safely removed.

Floods and landslides have affected 36 districts across the country. Almost 100 people have died in the flooding in Nepal. The number of families displaced by the floods in the southern terai districts bordering India is almost 21,000. Another 336,500 people are struggling to survive after losing their homes and crops, and getting ill. The floods have destroyed 36,469 homes.

Flood waters have receded in most districts; however some areas are still water-logged in the southern belt hampering efforts of aid workers trying to reach the most affected and still-marooned settlements. Agricultural crops have been destroyed, and a food shortage looms.

Over the past couple of days an increasing number of children with viral fever, conjunctivitis, diarrhoea and skin diseases have become apparent. Health authorities are on alert and monitoring the situation to prevent the transmission of diseases, such as malaria. UNICEF has already dispatched its stock of pre-positioned bed nets to protect children and their families against disease and is in the process of procuring more nets.

UNICEF is the lead agency in supplying water purification agents-powder, tablets and solutions. It is now concentrating on disseminating basic sanitation and hygiene messages in local languages using radio stations and community outreach.

Donations to help flood victims can be made to UNICEF Canada's South Asian Flood Appeal in three ways: on-line at www.unicef.ca/donate; by telephone at 1-877-955-3111; or by mail to UNICEF Canada, 2200 Yonge St., Suite 1100, Toronto, ON, M4S 2C6.


UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in more than 155 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of insecticide-treated bed nets and vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

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