The deadly legacy of landmines — Global Issues

Born in peace but crippled by weapons of war

Two deminers work to decontaminate land in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Photo UN/Martine Perret

Two deminers work to decontaminate land in Bunia, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Minga has never owned a toy. In her village, in Angola, children often play with sticks or broken wheels – but this is different. It was green, metallic, and shaped like a small tin. She wanted to show it to her siblings, so she picked it up and brought it home.”

Documentary photographer, mine survivor and United Nations Global Advocate for People with Disabilities in Conflict and Peace-Building Situations, Giles DuleyThere are many heartbreaking stories to tell, mainly about children injured by landmines on their way to school, home or at play.

Six-year-old Minga lost her sight and left arm in 2009, seven years after the war in Angola ended. She is one of the children born in peace but abused by war without her knowledge.

Daily risk of death

The latest estimates show that by 2021, more than 5,500 people have been killed or injured by landmines, most of them civilians, half of them children. More than two decades after the adoption of the Landmine Ban Treaty, some 60 million people in nearly 70 countries and territories still live with the risk of landmines and mines on a daily basis.

The United Nations Mine Action Service, launched the campaign “Mine action can’t wait ” to mark International Day, when countries such as Angola, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Vietnam, continue to suffer from landmine contamination for decades.

Mines can lie dormant for years or even decades until they are activated.

“Even after fighting ends, conflicts often leave behind a terrifying legacy: landmines and explosives scattered across communities,” the UN said. Secretary General António Guterres in him message for International Day.

“Peace does not provide safety when roads and fields are mined, when unexploded mines threaten the return of displaced people, and when children find and play with objects. shiny can explode.”

Mines, can be produced for as little as $1, regardless of military personnel and civilians. Their use violates international humanitarian and human rights law.

They not only take lives and limbs, but also prevent communities from accessing land that could be used for farming or building hospitals and schools as well as essential services such as food, water, health care and humanitarian aid.

landmines in Ukraine

A deminer for Ukraine's State Emergency Service sweeps the ground for mines and unexploded ordnance.

UNDP Ukraine/Oleksandr Simonenko

A deminer for Ukraine’s State Emergency Service sweeps the ground for mines and unexploded ordnance.

Despite international efforts to prevent the use of landmines, they continue to be placed in conflict situations, including in Ukraine following the Russian invasion in February 2022. UNICEF and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine recently warned that about 30% of the country could be exploited due to hostilities.

In Myanmar, Mines and Cluster Munitions, a United Nations-supported civil society group, specializes in reporting on observed landmine use.the “new and significantly expanded” use of landmines by government forces. Militant groups in countries such as the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also use landmines to attack and frighten people, making it impossible for them to leave their lands and stay away from their homes.

Butterfly wings attract curious children

Have more than 600 The different types of mines are grouped into two broad categories – anti-personnel (AP) and anti-tank mines. AP mines come in many different shapes and can be found underground or underground. A common type, called “butterfly” beak – Bright colors attract children’s curiosity.

Landmines are also a big problem in many agriculture-based countries. In Vietnam’s Binh Dinh province, where many people live by farming rice, 40% of the land is still contaminated by landmines more than four decades after the war ended.

In Afghanistan, where landmines injure or kill more people than anywhere else, more than 18 million mines has been cleared since 1989, freeing more than 3,011 km2 The land has benefited more than 3,000 mostly rural communities across the country.

The promise of a world without landmines

UNMAS and its partners have made progress on many fronts towards a mine-free world, including demining, educating people, especially children, about the risks of mines and explosives, advocacy for victims, and destruction of stockpiles.

Since the late 90s, more than 55 million landmines have been destroyed, more than 30 countries have been mine-free, casualties have been significantly reduced, and mechanisms, including United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Actionwas established to assist victims and communities in need.

Today, 164 countries are parties to the Mining Ban Treaty which is considered one of the most ratified disarmament conventions to date. However, despite the progress, broader global efforts are needed to protect people from landmines, according to the United Nations Secretary-General.

“Let’s take action to end the threat of these deadly devices, support communities as they recover, and help people bounce back and rebuild their lives in safety and security. “

Learn more about the work of UNMAS This.


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