Tuesday 4 April 2017

International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

In 2005, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the "International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action" (via).

More than 100 million mines are scattered across ca. 68 countries. In Egypt, the country most contaminated by landmines, there are approximately 23 million landmines. Every year, tens of thousands of people are killed, injured or permanently disabled by landmines. Between 1999 and 2012, 88.331 people living in about 60 countries were reported to be killed or injured by landmines or explosive remnants of war. Most of the victims are civilians. Many are children (in Cambodia, children account for up to 50% of landmines casualties). Some 1.000 children are killed or injured every year. Other children lose a family member as a result of a mine blast and face challenges from the loss of the care giver or household breadwinner. While boys and men form the largest groups of mine victims, girls and women often experience greater difficultires in getting the medical and psychosocial care they need. Landmines continue to threaten lives years after hostilities have officially ended and cause injuries that are much more severe than those caused by other weapons.
"When a person steps on a buried anti-personnel mine, the detonation is likely to rip off one or both of his or her legs and drives soil, grass, gravel, metal and plastic fragments of the mine casing, pieces of shoe and shattered bone up into the muscles and lower parts of the body. If it explodes while being handled, a mine can blow off fingers, hands, arms, and injure parts of the face, abdomen and chest."
Usually, health and social structures in mine-affected countries are devastated by years of conflict. Mine victims, therefore, often do not receive the care needed. Most of them live in the poorest countries that have not yet recovered from years - or sometimes decades - of war. In addition, removing mines is costly. Mines cost between 3 and 30 dollars, removing them costs between 300 and 1.000 dollars. If we continue at this pace, it will take nearly 1.100 years to clear all the mines in the world (via and via and via and via and via and via). But it does not have to take that long. Mozambique is a "compelling example" of how the problem can be tackled. After more than 30 years of conflict, more than 200.000 landmines were scattered across the country. Around 80% (171.000 mines) of them were destroyed in the past twenty years helping the country to recover (via). With support, every country can be mine free.

::: U.N. Landmine Removal Commercial: WATCH/LISTEN
::: "Lend Your Leg", United Nations (2012): WATCH/LISTEN
::: UNICEF commercial: WATCH/LISTEN
::: "Betty", a Marco Grob film narrated by Daniel Craig: WATCH/LISTEN

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photographs via and via