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  What is the scale of the problem?

Approximately 90 countries have problems with landmines and unexploded ordnance. 70 of these countries have registered new victims since 2002.

Landmines are indiscriminate; they do not distinguish between the foot of a soldier or child. They lie dormant until, when triggered, they unleash horrific destruction. A landmine blast can cause injuries such as blindness, burns, shrapnel wounds and the loss of limbs. Sometimes the victim dies from the blast, due to loss of blood or because they do not get to medical care in time. Those who survive often require amputations and lengthy rehabilitation. The injuries are no accident: landmines are designed to maim not kill.

It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties caused by landmines each year. That means there are some 1,500 new casualties each month, more than 40 a day, at least 2 new casualties per hour. About half of those killed or injured are children. Furthermore, these figures do not include those killed or injured by unexploded ordnance and a large number of deaths and injuries go unreported as they occur in remote areas.

Beyond death and injury, landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of their land and infrastructure. It can take only two or three mines, or the mere suspicion of their presence, to render a patch of land unusable. Incredibly, an area of usable land the size of Germany and France is affected in these countries.

Landmines do not recognise a cease-fire and continue to menace the civilian population long after peace has been made. They hold up the repatriation of refugees, hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid. It only costs between $3-$5 to manufacture a landmine but up to $1,000 to clear just one.

Vast stockpiles remain and sadly landmines are still being used today. Minefields dating back decades continue to wait for innocent victims. The UN estimates up to 100 million life and limb taking landmines are active.

The Johnson Family – Uganda

In the Rwenzori Mountains region of Uganda the Johnson family lived happily, that is, until conflict shattered their lives and drove them from their home.  Once the fighting was over, the family returned to their home.  While the parents began rebuilding their home, the children played.   
The scarring on the arm of one of the children

None of the five children thought twice about gathering around a ‘little bell’ lying on the ground. It was actually a small bomb.  A few devastating seconds after finding it, three of the Johnson’s five children were dead and the other two maimed for life.  If the Johnson’s children had been given simple and clear messages of education about landmines and other explosive remnants of war they would be alive to this day.  Instead their parents mourn the three children they lost and must find ways to meet the special needs of the two they still have.  
         The 'little bell' M79 bomb
The Johnson Family with their 2 remaining children

Premakumar – Sri Lanka

Premakumar, a twelve-year-old boy, and his family moved back to their village following a lull in hostilities in 1999. One day, in August 2000, whilst having a bath in a pond near his home, he found an unusual object half buried in the sandy soil. Being a curious 12 year old, he picked the object up and took it home. There, in the presence of his mother and elder brother he started to investigate the strange looking object. The object exploded, killing his mother outright and severing Premakumar’s left arm below the elbow and left leg below the knee. He received many other fragmentation wounds as did his elder brother Rajkumar. It was 6 hours before the young boy could be taken to Vavuniya hospital, some 85 kms away. Premakumar remains traumatised by the events of that day, living with the eternal memory that is actions caused the death of his mother.   
  Premakumar and family.


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