Land Mines – the silent killer that just won’t go away – we have all heard terrible stories of the lasting impact of land mines, but the bigger picture of this awful issue is not always realised. The following facts may come as a shock awakening which will hopefully cause more people to stand up against the production of land mines, support efforts to clear them and assist the victims and their families.
The Mine Ban Treaty of 1997 defines an antipersonnel mine as: “a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons.” (Article 2.1)
1. More specifically, a land mine is a bomb, hidden below the surface of the ground, usually made of plastic or metal. They contain explosives and often pieces of metal designed to inflict extra injury. They may be activated by direct pressure from above, by pressure put on a wire attached to a pull switch, or even just by the proximity of a person within a predetermined distance. They are indiscriminate killers which kill and maim innocent civilians across the globe every single day.
2. They harm people in many ways, typically destroying one or more limbs. Metal and debris is often embedded into the wound. Burns, blindness and other life-long injuries are also common.
3. On average 5,000 people are killed by land mines each year. This is either as a direct result of the blast, due to loss of blood or because they don’t get to medical care in time. Hospital care in some of the poorest countries afflicted with land mines also affect the survival rate. Victims often require extensive treatment, including amputations and multiple operations.
4. Million of land mines are hidden in the ground in 78 countries.
5. Around 80% of those harmed by land mines are civilians.
6. Between 30-40% of land mine victims are under 15 years of age.
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