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On the 27th of January 2017, an official opening ceremony of “Safe Playground” project of the Azerbaijan Red  Crescent Society took place in Dash Salahli village of Gazakh district. This project has been implemented within the framework of “Mine Risks Reduction” strategy in cooperation with the Embassy of Lithuania to Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society started to implement “Safe Playground” project in 2005. The main purpose of the project is to protect children from risks of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the villages located in western part of Azerbaijan as these territories have been an arena of severe battles in the recent past, but now our people are settled there. The ICRC assisted the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society in implementing “Safe Playground” project as the National Society is the biggest and the only officially recognized humanitarian organization in the country.

Official statistics provided by ANAMA (Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Actions) in 2005 showed that a total of 59 people died or wounded as a result of mine explosion and explosive remnants of war. 33 out of them were registered as a child. Such a terrible statistics became a reason for the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society and the International Committee of the Red Cross to start implementation of “Safe Playground” project within the framework of “Mine Risks Reduction” strategy in Azerbaijan. Taking an importance of “Safe Playground” project into account ANAMA agency also assisted the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society in implementing of the project.

In 2005-2017, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society constructed a total of 62 safe playgrounds in selected villages of Gazakh, Agstafa, Tovuz, Gadabay, Goygol, Goranboy, Terter, Agdam, Agjabedi and Fizuli districts. As a result of it, children have been at least partially protected from risks of mines and ERW. It should be mentioned that during that period construction of 56 safe playgrounds among the above-mentioned number has been carried out by the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society in partnership with different partners. The Norwegian Red Cross, the ICRC, the International Olympic Committee, “HOMS” agency (Heads of Missions Spouses), Trans Global Projects LTD and the German Red Cross were among those partners.

Taking into account that there are still mine and ERW risks for children in a number of front line villages the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society has decided to continue an implementation of  “Safe Playground” project. Thus, in October 2016 the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society in cooperation with the Embassy of Lithuania to Azerbaijan started construction of safe playground in Dash Salahli village of Gazakh district.

Construction work was finished in January 2017 and after that an official opening ceremony took place. The Executive Secretary of the Az.RC Jeyhun Mirzayev, a coordinator of “Safe Playground” project Mammad Kataov, ambassador of the Embassy of Lithuania to Azerbaijan Mr.Valdas Lastauskas, first Deputy Head of Gazakh district  executive authority Gulaya Hasanova, Head of Department for the Work with Local Self-Government Bodies at Gazakh district executive authority administration Mammad Aliyev, a coordinator of Ganja Regional Center of the Az.RC Ismayil Asadov, an employee of Migration department of the Az.RC Sona Hajiyeva, a chairman of Gazakh district branch of the Az.RC Gurban Gurbanli, village community leaders, village school director, school teachers and schoolchildren, village intelligentsia and village children participated at the opening ceremony of safe playground. In their speeches delivered during the opening ceremony officials from Gazakh district executive authority and village community members expressed their gratitude to the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society and the Embassy of Lithuania to Azerbaijan for this important project realized.

After speeches a hand-over of safe playground from the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society to village authority was conducted and then a symbolic red ribbon on the door of safe playground was cut. Thus, safe playground was officially given to the use of children.

In conclusion, taking this opportunity the Azerbaijan Red Crescent Society would like to express its gratitude to the Embassy of Lithuania to Azerbaijan for the assistance it had provided to such important humanitarian project. We express our hope for further successful cooperation.

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