Risk education saves lives
Since March 2015, Handicap International has been leading risk education sessions in several parts of the Gaza strip. After the military operations in July and August 2014 there are explosive remnants of war absolutely everywhere, which poses a serious threat to the population.
An explosive weapons risk education session conducted by Handicap International in Gaza. | © Simon Elmont / Handicap International
Explosive remnants of war (bombs, shells, missiles etc. that did not explode on impact) are mixed up with the rubble and post a constant threat to the population of Gaza.
Handicap International therefore decided to set up a team to travel the length and breadth of the area to hammer home the messages.
The organisation is focusing its interventions on four target groups considered to be particularly high risk: scrap metal merchants, rubble collectors, agricultural workers and construction workers. Although the scrap metal merchants are already very aware of the risks they have no choice but to take their chances because collecting metal is their livelihood. Agricultural workers, however, are less aware of the dangers, so it is important to teach them or remind them of the right attitudes to adopt.
The circumstances in which accidents take place are often very similar. Typically they occur when someone wants to move some rubble, for example to clear the entrance to their home after a bombing raid, and in doing so moves the munitions they find mixed up in the debris, often without even realising they are handling an explosive device. The team organises the sessions in close collaboration with community leaders. However, spontaneous sessions can also be held when the risk education officers identify people involved in high-risk activities.
Each session lasts between 30 and 45 minutes and is delivered to a group of 5 - 20 people. The message delivered may seem simple, but it is essential: "Do not touch anything that looks suspicious! Mark off the area and call the authorities."
A total of 450 sessions have already been held since the programme was launched in March, reaching 5,600 people.