INNOCENT childhood games could lead the children of Iraq to tragedy.

Yesterday, we reported how an old landmine blew off the hands of six-year-old Huner, when a game of hide and seek with his brother Aumed, five, and friend Nuzhder, six, drew them towards a mysterious piece of metal.

Now the fighting in some areas of Iraq has subsided and children can wander more freely, there is a natural curiosity for children to visit places where fighting took place and a tendency to be drawn to souvenirs and remnants of war - which can be lethal.

The Evening Press and UNICEF have launched a campaign to raise vital funds that could help deliver life-saving medical treatment to these children.

Louis Coles, UNICEF regional fundraising manager, said: "The lives of children like those injured last week and others like them will never be the same again. However sophisticated the methods of raging war are today, the end results are as bloody and horrific as they have been throughout the centuries. These cruel and clumsy weapons are already reported to have claimed the lives of Iraqi children and their use must end. The taking of a child's life is never an acceptable cost of war."

Iraq is among the worst landmine- affected countries.

While landmines prevail on all of Iraq's borders, northern Iraq is the most heavily-mined and has suffered thousands of casualties over the last decade. The danger of landmines is exacerbated for children, who are intrigued by the sometimes colourful designs. Butterfly mines and cluster bombs are particularly attractive to young children.

To make a donation towards the Evening Press/UNICEF Iraq children's appeal, complete the special coupon or phone 0114 251 7092 for information about organising a fundraising event.

Updated: 09:46 Wednesday, April 16, 2003