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Superman to the rescue in Kosovo

SUPERMAN AND Wonder Woman will soon be on a humanitarian mission in Kosovo, telling children how to avoid land-mines left behind by Serbian troops.

This will be the Man of Steel's second mission to the Balkans. In 1996 the United Nation's Children's Fund asked DC Comics to send him to teach Bosnian children about landmines. In 1997, he teamed up with Wonder Woman for similar missions in Central America and Mozambique.

According to George McBean, a UNICEF official, "comics possess a very different tactical value for the landmine campaign than do classes, posters or even brochures. They are read by children who respond to them and who pass them around to each other."

The stories told by the 600,000 comics to arrive in August will feature Albanian-speaking super -heroes. They are designed to teach children how to identify booby traps and warn them against removing suspicious objects. Instead of lifting to safety a child trapped in a mined field or telling him to retrace his steps, Superman urges him to call for help.

"The facts the kids have to deal with are woven into a fairly safe but time-tested role of the super-hero who helps people out and teaches them how to act," says Mr McBean.

The landmine awareness partnership between DC Comics and UNICEF began in 1996, fostered by folk-singer Judy Collins, a UN ambassador.

Superman's latest mission returns him to his roots. While he gained fame fighting for "truth, justice and the American way", he was created in 1938 in Canada. Nearly 60 years later, Canada led the way in the drive to create the International Landmines Treaty.

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