Mine awareness day - TH!NK about it

Today is the forth International day of Mine awareness. I didn’t realize how deep this problem is until I read some official statistics about it. Let’s see.

A handbook, issued by the UN in 2009, says that by the end of 1990’s there were an estimated 15 to 20 thousand casualties caused by landmines or unexploded ordnance every year. After the signing of Landmines Convention in Ottawa, Canada in 1997, the number of those killed by landmines decreased. In 2007 were indentified 5,751 casualties from mines.
More than 75 countries are affected of unexploded ordnance. This includes Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal and Sri Lanka.


Over the years landmines changed from device of defense to offensive weapons. Landmine fields, once marked, are now left unrecorded.

“Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Fact Sheet”, issued in March 2010, says that 61% of all recorded casualties were civilians, even if that number decrease over the years. 27% of causalties (1,408) occurred in countries without a formal data collection mechanism.
In 2008 children accounted for 41% of the civilian casualties. Children are often injured or killed when their daily activities bring them in contact with mines – as they travel to school, play or help ot contribute to family incomes in tenuous post-conflict economies.
The fact sheet also says, that in Mozambique in 2008 six of nine mine casualties were children who were playing in known mine contaminated areas. Among the areas with most child casualties in 2008 are Afghanistan with 393 child casualties, Cambodia with 97, Chad with 65, Lao PDR with 63, Colombia with 46.
The biggest problem is that few countries or health systems report on the capacity they have to address children with injuries as amputated limbs, etc. They require more complicated rehabilitation assistance which a few countries declare capable to resolve. In many countries, child survivors have to end their education prematurely. Special education is seldom available and further hindered by the lack of appropriate training for teachers.

All it takes is a short moment of curiosity and a child is dead…
Landmine clearance is not among the MDG’s but I find it crucial in showing the progress to development. Even though, USA, Russia, China, Pakistan and Egypt haven’t signed the Convention…

Here are two of the biggest organizations, occupied with clearance of unexploded ordnance.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a global network in over 70 countries that works for a world free of antipersonnel landmines. The Campaign was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

Mine Awareness trust (MAT) is one of the NGO’s occupied with Landmine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, etc. Their way to do so is by training dogs who find the weapons. MAT has 11 dogs operational in the field and are training 5 more in their center in Kenya.
Since 1999 when they were established, they have done projects in Congo, Eritrea, Kosovo, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda. Right now they are working on de-mining in Rwanda where MAT will teach 200 Rwandans to conduct mine clearance. Their goal is a ‘landmine impact free Rwanda’ by the 01st December 2010. In Kosovo MAT continue with Explosive, Transportation and Handling course to all members of the ordinance disposal team. MAT is also educating communities in Darfur, Sudan, about unexploded ordnance.

UNICEF is also training civil society partners and local authorities to ensure a common understanding of the danger posed by unexploded ordnance.

* also published on TH!NK about it platform

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