Landmines Are Still Out There
(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Shortly before her death in 1997, Princess Diana was filmed visiting minefields that were being cleared by the Halo Trust in Angola, drawing the world's attention to this deadly situation. Now, 16 years later this August, Prince Harry has put the media spotlight on this issue after he travelled to Angola to see the Halo Trust’s mine clearance work.
The charity is the oldest organisation of its kind; the Prince is patron of its 25th Anniversary Appeal. As a soldier, the Prince Harry is seeing many people of his generation losing limbs and this has seemed to affect him. In a statement issued by Kensington Palace, Prince Harry said he was keen to support the charity in any way he could.
The commitment shown by Prince Harry plays an important role in helping not only to raise awareness of Halo's work, but also to demonstrate that the issue of landmines has not gone away. Angola's civil war has left an estimated 500,000 dead and destroyed much of the country. Though there have been huge efforts since the war ended there in 2002 to clear the explosives, the country remains one of the most heavily mined in the world. The Halo Trust has destroyed more than 21,300 anti-personnel and anti-tank mines in Angola but thousands of residents have still been killed or maimed.
Sadly, there are an estimated 37 million land mines buried across Africa, and Angola contains approximately ten million of them. Progress to remove the millions of land mines in Angola has been slow. Mine removal is a lengthy and expensive procedure. It can take experts an entire day to clear 20-50 square metres of land (when mines can be spread at a rate of 1,000 per minute). Land mines pose a huge danger to the population, particularly to the young. Angola already has 70,000 amputees, 8,000 of whom are children. Naturally curious, children are much more likely to pick up devices if they find them; when the mines explode their small bodies are more easily injured. Those children who do survive a mine explosion are often left permanently disabled.
These statistics really bring this issue home, as despite the 151 countries that have signed and ratified the international convention against manufacturing and use of land mines, 13 countries are still making and laying them! In 2006 the Landmine Monitor identified 78 states doing so. In 58 of them there were reported approximately 15,000 accidents caused by explosion only in one year. That’s on average one every 20 minutes. Globally, landmines account for 400,000 to 500,000 people killed or wounded. It is estimated that the total global number of land mines is approximately 110m, most of which are located in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia countries.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia