Landmines: an enduring threat

There are two types of landmines, anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. Both are lethal or leave those who activate them with irreparable consequences. Throughout the world there are more than 110 million anti-personnel mines that remain active, even after the resolution of the conflict for which they were placed.

land mines
Landmine warning
Landmines remain active decades after their installation

Landmines are cheap and, in most cases, deadly. Since they have no expiration date, the vast majority of them remain active for many decades. Although they have been banned since 1997, they continue to be used as a means of persuasion, for example, in the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

Anti-personnel mines constitute a potential danger, especially for children, who often play in places where adults do not pass. According to UN estimates, in 2021, 5,500 people were killed or maimed by landmines. Half of them were children.

Although more than twenty years have passed since the ratification of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the presence of individuals who evade legal responsibility persists. The main issue is that, despite the conclusion of the conflicts, mines continue to represent a danger decades later. Currently, more than 70 million civilians reside in areas where minefields exist.

What is UNMAS?

In 1997, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) was established. This agreement allowed the deactivation and elimination of millions of landmines. Despite these efforts, there are still extensive mined areas in more than 70 countries.

Unfortunately, due to negligence or lack of knowledge on the part of military and government authorities, tragedies continue to occur with the loss of life or mutilation of innocent victims.

Annually, April 4 is commemorated as International Mine Action Hazard Information and Assistance Day. The goal is to raise awareness about one of the cruelest and most indistinguishable weapons of war.

According to the words of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutierrez, peace does not provide any guarantee of security when the roads and fields are full of active mines. There, children find and play with shiny objects that explode.

Facts that hurt

In Angola, where most children do not have toys, a little boy found a green object, similar to a can. As he caught her attention, he began to play with her, and decided to take him to her house to show him to her brothers.

Minga is the name of the protagonist of this story, he is six years old and lost his left arm, in addition to being blind for life, thanks to the apathy of his rulers.

He and many others were born after peace came to the country. Although no one remembers that the mines are still active.

There are even anti-personnel mines, which are manufactured in bright colors. They are called butterfly mines and they attract children because of their colors, it goes without saying that they are lethal for them. In other cases, the victims are usually farmers, since when they plow their lands they find mines that are still active.

Since the creation of the Convention, 30 countries have been free of landmines, although this is still insufficient, as many more are missing.

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