Emergency UXO Risk Education in Zamboanga

Following a Mines and UXO Risk Education (MRE) Train-the-Trainer course, run by FSD France, evacuees from the recent fighting in Zamboanga are learning of the risks of unexploded ordnance (UXO) before they return to their homes. 

In September 2013, two weeks of intense fighting between Philippine security forces and the Mindanao National Liberation Front (MNLF) left parts of the city littered with UXO.  In a three-week clearance operation, Philippine Bomb Disposal teams removed over 700 UXO but, under multiple layers of rubble and debris, hazardous items may still remain.  UXO will undoubtedly be uncovered as residents and repair teams return to the area.

Newly-trained MRE Providers visit Evacuation Centres to inform evacuees of what UXO looks like; where it might be found; the risks it poses; safe behaviours to adopt; unsafe behaviours to avoid; and who to call for assistance.  Aid agencies, local volunteers and workers involved in the clean-up operation will also receive UXO Risk Education.

The eighteen local volunteers include local NGO staff and students from the Western Mindanao State University.  During the course, students learned how to design and deliver MRE safety messages and materials, 

and the communication skills and strategies they needed to ensure timely and effective delivery of these messages.  

Risk Education posters and billboards, designed on the course and appropriate to the local situation, are used in the MRE presentations and are prominently displayed in Evacuation Centres and around the city.

UNHCR staff provided assistance in conducting the training, and in making initial contact with Camp Managers in the Evacuation Centres.  The Zamboanga Police EOD team also assisted in the training, giving first-hand accounts of clearance operations in UXO-affected neighbourhoods and the types of UXO returnees might encounter.  The Zamboanga City Police Department was very supportive of the training, and maintains close liaison with the MRE teams, to ensure that returnees, who encounter UXO, know who to call and can expect something to be done about the hazard.

The training was funded by the European Union as part of its commitment to the Peace Process in Mindanao.  Under its Instrument for Stability programme, the EU funds FSD’s UXO Survey and Risk Education programme in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.  The programme aims not only to reduce the risk to local communities but also, by facilitating cooperation between all stakeholders in the Mindanao Peace Process in the reporting and clearance of UXO, to strengthen the peace process itself.  

As a part of its commitment to building local capacity, FSD will run further MRE provider training in Mindanao in 2013 and 2014.

Our team in action