A workshop on the dangers of landmines is being held in the Karen State capital Hpa-an for the first time under arrangement by the regional government.
The four-day workshop that began on Monday at Hpa-an’s Tawwin Yadana Hotel was joined by more than 60 participants, including civil servants from a number of Karen State government departments.
The event was jointly organised by Danish NGO DanChurchAid (DCA) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).
“Among the participants at the workshop are civil servants from the forestry, land registry, border development, social welfare, agriculture and education departments. They are here to share what they have learned with the civilian populations in the areas they are based in,” said Zaw Min, the deputy director of the Karen State Social Welfare Department.
The organiser said many areas across Karen State are still littered with landmines laid by the government army and ethnic rebels during their decades-long conflict.
“The programme aims at creating a safe environment in Burma clear of the danger of landmines. At this moment, we are mostly focusing on providing education, but in the future we will try to provide assistance directly to locals on the ground,” said DCA project manager Matthew Richard Walsh.
Highlighting the continuing danger from landmines, two recent incidents were mentioned during the first day of the workshop.
On 16 March, 45-year-old Pha Khe from the village of Kawkyo lost his leg after stepping on a landmine. In another incident, 19-year-old Saw De De was injured when he accidentally set off a landmine in the village of Htipana, near the town of Shanywarthit.
According to the 2014 Land Mine Monitor Report, Burma ranked 10th in the world among countries with the highest rates of civilian casualties from landmines.