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Published March 2005
LGVN Humanitarian / Animal - Landmines

The post war, silent, underground killer

You can't see it - you can't hear it - you can't smell it - and the conflict in your country may have been over for years. But landmines are killing or seriously maiming both humans and animals in war-torn countries across the world every day.

Across the world, one person is killed every 20 minutes as a result of landmines and unexploded bombs. This adds up to around 26,000 each year. Many hundreds are also severely maimed every day, usually with a loss of limbs and other injuries to major organs. Landmines are produced as "weapons of war," but only 10 percent of landmine victims are military personnel. The other 90 percent are innocent civilians - mostly women and children. Besides the victims, millions of people are afraid to venture from their homes. Hundreds of millions of these hidden killers lay usually invisible just underneath the earth or covered by foliage - on roadsides, paths, fields and woodlands
People are unable to plant their fields or even walk to the clinic or visit friends, Children can't walk to school or play in their neighbourhood.

Landmines lay silent and deadly across many countries of the world, and in most cases no one knows exactly where these indiscriminately strewn killers are. There are even millions of mines left over from World War 2. Although slightly easier to detect, because they were made of metal, these 60 year old mines are still killing and maiming today. Modern mines are very hard to find because they are made of undetectable plastics and alloys. For example in Angola the legacy of war, which finished in 2002, has left nearly five million hard-to-detect landmines scattered across the country.

16% of "bomblets" released from cluster bombs don't explode on impact. Post war Iraq is now littered with these small cylinders as they continue to maim and kill - usually children, who pick them up to play with.

There is a variety of landmine based charities which deal with various aspects of the problem. The Halo Trust specialize in the removal of the debris of war and have over 4,850 mineclearers in 9 countries. Their operations are always increasing. Adopt-A-Landmine do a similar job and run mine action projects in 6 countries.
Handicap International helps victims of landmines and also cover other aspects of humanitarian based
disabilities.

Animal victims of landmines

Millions of animals are also killed and maimed by landmines.

In the pre 9-11 Afghan war, Afghans suffered a total loss of more than 75,000 animals due to mines ... more than 50% of the total number of livestock. These numbers are comparable to many war-torn countries across the world.

Unfortunately less compassionate people even use animals to explode mines in their fields

In 1997 a report said that Bosnian locals were letting sheep loose in unsafe areas as a barbaric method of exploding the mines.
In El Salvador, pigs were used to find and detonate mines. Source: (Arana, 1992).
It is reported that, "During Iran's 1980-1988 war with Iraq, entire classes of boys were brought to the front as "scouts" and sent forward over enemy minefields. Tehran had previously used sheep, but decided even children were to be involved in the war effort." Source: (Chelmminski, 1994. p.29)
In a report on Zimbabwe: "Many people could not return to their villages and farms after their independence. Those who did pushed their cattle ahead to detonate the mines."
For a more comprehensive resource read
Animals in War

Animal deaths from mines source: Project Mkono

Links:
The Halo Trust
Adopt-A-Landmine
Handicap International


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