Bomb safety instructions for Artsakh’s children

Step one of a bomb safety poster for children created by Foundation for Demining and Demolition (FDD) and UNICEF, June 2021

Stay far from fruit trees
And unplowed fields.
Avoid places where flora
Hides crops sown by
Planters in camouflage
To feed fright and flight.

Don’t touch the bomb, my baby.
Don’t touch the bomb, my love.
Retreat from the pink ribbon
Attached to a gift from hell.
Run from the metal stick
Topped by a silver ring
Waiting for your small hand.

If you see a landmine and
A friend is near,
Signal that danger is close
So their mind’s eye is saved
To keep dreaming of safe home
And full pantry
And whole father.

Watch for skull and crossbones
That flag the promise of pain
In a place where the magic of youth
Must save you.
Call 911 or 1-02 to reach
An adult who will tell you to
Drop to the ground or
Crawl from the hotspot
Or shelter in a shallow hole
And wait for help.

This is your inheritance, my baby.
This is your truth, my love.
Just remember that you are
And always will be,
Showing grownups in headlines that
One fruit of war is hope.

Author’s note: This verse was inspired by the recent release of safety instructions for children in Artsakh who may encounter unexploded ordnance in the aftermath of the 2020 Artsakh War. The safety instructions were issued by UNICEF and the Foundation for Demining and Demolition (FDD).

UNICEF reports that children account for over half of the victims of landmine or other ordnance explosions around the world, with over 104,100 verified deaths or injuries to children from 2005 to 2020.

Children are taught a safety protocol to follow when they are outside alone or with friends, emergency numbers to call if they see an unexploded bomb or landmine, photos of places to avoid when they are outside playing, warning signs to heed and what they mean, and photos of unexploded ordnance that they could encounter while playing outdoors.

These and other materials using child-friendly language and images have been used in 10 temporary education and recreation centers in Armenia operated by UNICEF and the Armenian Red Cross for displaced children from Artsakh waiting to return to the homes they fled with their families after Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh on Sept. 27, 2020. Children living in the community hosting the temporary education and recreation centers also attend the centers and are assisted.

According to an Oct. 1, 2021 UNICEF report, there are still over 450 displaced Artsakh families living in Armenia receiving UNICEF’s assistance. The report notes that 30 percent of those families do not know whether they will be able to return to Artsakh.

Georgi-Ann Bargamian

Georgi-Ann Bargamian

Georgi-Ann Bargamian Oshagan is a former editor of the Armenian Weekly. After 10 years working in community journalism, she attended law school and is an attorney, but she remains committed to her first love journalism by writing for the Armenian Weekly and contributing occasionally to the Solutions Based Journalism Project.

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