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Progress towards a
mine-free world

© NICK DANZIGER

Dr Mohammed Haider Reza
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Afghanistan

“Disabled victims from mines represent between 4 and 10 per cent of our population, that’s up to 2 million people. Part of the US$ 480 million we’ve asked for will go to the disabled. The Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled gives cash, not very much, 300 afghanis per person (which will buy about 2kg of meat) per month. We have to keep in mind that the country is coming out of 25 years of war. Imagine multiplying that by 2 million people.

“I can say Afghanistan is in the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction. Nowadays, there are micro-credit schemes [for the disabled] as well as training programmes to become a tailor, carpenter, or to do bicycle repairs. The majority of office jobs are open to them, but the problem might be that they are not able to read and write. I think the best thing to do is to promote the rights of the disabled, also as regular employees.”

© NICK DANZIGERKatarzyna Derlicka
International cooperation department, Polish Red Cross

“Anti-personnel mines are not just an issue in Angola and Afghanistan, after the Second World War, Poland was the most mined country in the world with 86 million mines and UXO [unexploded ordnance] and still today we have mine injuries and deaths. There have been over 8,000 civilian deaths due to mines since the end of the Second World War when 86 per cent of the land was contaminated. Bomb disposal teams are called up to 10,000 times each year when people discover mines and UXO while cultivating or playing or walking in the forests. Sometimes they are found on construction sites or new roads, some of the mines still work, some don’t. Children are mainly the victims because they play with them.”

© NICK DANZIGER

Peter Herby
Head of mines, Small Arms unit, ICRC

“The review conference has demonstrated a number of things: first, it has brought awareness that the job isn’t finished. Second, the next five years are a crucial period for the Convention and the removal of mines in that period. Third, much more needs to be done to improve assistance to victims. The Nairobi action plan is solid, but it is the actions that will save lives and bring dignity to victims. “To use a medical analogy, we have the prescription for ending the epidemic of anti-personnel mine casualties. The medicine is working — there is a huge drop in the number of victims. But you have to keep taking the medicine, you can’t take half your antibiotics — you could be worse off. If we don’t take all the medicine — this unique Ottawa process which has brought together three-quarters of the world — couldn’t complete and fulfil its promises, it could make it more difficult to fulfil other humanitarian issues.”

© NICK DANZIGER

Lino Lobuya
Cow herder, southern Sudan

ICRC surgical hospital, Lokichokio, northern Kenya “I knew there were mines, but I didn’t know where — I was just looking after my cattle and then I woke up in hospital. I still live in the same place, but I no longer take my cattle there. But others still go there to find cattle they have lost and women also go there to collect firewood and there are still injuries. “One difference [since the amputation] is that today when I lose my cattle, I don’t have the power to go the distance to find them. I stay in one place. The drought made me suffer more. My community thinks I am wasted and useless. I can’t help the community, I am not important, I am a reject.”

© NICK DANZIGER

Guenter Wimhoefer
ICRC surgeon

“The effects of landmines on humans are enormous, particularly for children — a young person might need dozens of prosthesis during their lifetime — it’s a lifelong misery and problem that affects the quality of life. As a surgeon who has worked with war wounded for 18 years, treating mine injuries is depressing, tough work compared to shrapnel or gunshot wounds, it is not unemotional; the destruction of a body, genitals, face. There is less fighting in Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia but the victims continue, you spend whole nights cleaning up wounds, you feel angry and helpless — you don’t want to see these wounds any more. But you are repairing, you remove one, possibly two legs, trying to give back some quality of life, the wound heals, the patient is fitted with a prosthesis and their smile returns, they may play soccer — it’s very important. There is hope.”

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