61,520 signatures handed in at Downing Street to help save lives and limbs
Supporters and representatives of Handicap International UK delivered a petition at Downing Street yesterday urging the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to ensure that UK Aid helps save the lives and limbs of civilians affected by conflict. An incredible 61,520 people added their voices to the petition online and at events around the UK to raise awareness about the victims of landmines and unexploded bombs.
Campaigners at Downing Street (l-r): Martin Shirley, Cathy Cotteridge, Barbara Brown, Beatrice Cami and Heather Knott | © John McGeachy / Handicap International
The petition calls for UK aid to provide more life-saving risk education to prevent accidents involving landmines and explosive remnants of war, and to urgently prioritise the clearance of contaminated areas.
The group of six campaigners included several members of Soroptimist International (SI), who have been working with Handicap International for 10 years to raise awareness about the victims of landmines and cluster munitions. Barbara Brown from SI Darlington helped to collect an amazing 521 signatures in her local area. Barbara was joined by Heather Knott of SI Chelmsford who has been raising awareness about the victims of landmines for 10 years, and Cathy Cotteridge, President of the SI London Anglia region. Handicap International UK’s Head of Fundraising and Communication, Beatrice Cami, and Forgotten 10 Challenge coordinator, John McGeachy, also attended.
Martin Shirley of South Somerset Peace Group, longstanding supporters of Handicap International’s work, also attended the hand-in. Speaking about why the peace group have decided to support our work with communities affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war, Martin said:
“The group supports Handicap International as a practical and effective way of combating landmines and cluster munitions through their work clearing minefields, assisting victims, risk education and campaigning against these horrific weapons.”
Vicious weapons that threaten lives and limbs
With conflict gripping the Middle East, increasing numbers of civilians are in danger from landmines and explosive remnants of war. These vicious weapons threaten the lives and limbs of innocent civilians in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and other countries such as Libya and Afghanistan.
Almost half of the recorded civilian victims are children. There is an urgent need for risk education, especially for people living in or returning to conflict affected areas who may be unaware of the hidden danger.
Urgent need for more risk education
Risk education activities are relatively simple to implement and can make a vital contribution to preventing accidents and saving lives. Despite this, there is a huge need for more support for this work. Much more can also be done to link risk education activities with the provision of humanitarian aid.
Enclosed with the volumes of petition signatures were several reports providing worrying evidence of the risks to civilian populations living in and around conflict zones in Gaza, Syria, and Afghanistan, demonstrating the scale of the issue which is currently being overlooked.
Although there is much work to be done, the petition is a significant show of support for the UK government to do more in helping to protect and support civilians affected by conflict.
We would like to thank all those that signed the petition online as well as hundreds of Soroptimists, school students, Quakers and other supporters that collected signatures as part of the Forgotten 10 Challenge in December 2014.