Date Published: 23 March 2007
Mozambique explosion highlights risks for children
UNICEF expressed concern today following Thursday’s massive explosion at an ammunition depot in the outskirts of the capital, Maputo. The explosion resulted in the deaths of over 90 people and injured more than 300, tragically highlighting the dangers that unexploded munitions pose to children and communities.
The blasts sent artillery and mortar shells flying over nearby residential neighborhoods destroying several houses, and placing children and their families in jeopardy.
“ This has been a traumatic experience for many children", said the Head of UNICEF in Mozambique Leila Pakkala.
“ The psychological and emotional impact will not only affect the children who have lost relatives and friends but also those who have witnessed the damage caused by the explosion.”
UNICEF is supporting government authorities and non-governmental partners to reunite separated children with their relatives and provide psychosocial support to children who may have experienced traumatic events.
Another priority over the next few days will be to rapidly launch public-awareness campaigns to inform communities about the potential dangers from unexploded ordinance.
Pakkala said that children are particularly vulnerable as curiosity may attract them to play with these objects.
“ Previous experience in similar situations has shown that children are particularly at risk of injury while inadvertently playing with unexploded shells and mortars,” Pakkala said.
The distribution of posters and leaflets, as well as radio and public-service announcements, to inform people about the dangers of unexploded munitions will be crucial to avoid further injury and loss of life in the affected areas.