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Waiting to strike

“Unlike bullets, which stop flying after a peace agreement is signed, landmines and unexploded remnants of war lie in the ground, primed and waiting to strike without distinction.” So writes author and photographer Mark Jenkins is his introduction to an exhibition of photographs (taken in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Laos, Mozambique and Nicaragua) that document the human toll exacted by these pernicious weapons. Most of those injured by these weapons were civilians, almost half of whom were children — playing, herding livestock or collecting firewood, he notes. Since the adoption of 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, the number of victims worldwide has declined sharply. But much land remains to be cleared and many people are still being killed and gravely injured every year. Here are just a few of the striking and powerful images, which capture the anguish and resilience of survivors, as well as the passion of those trying to reduce the suffering. See the full exhibit at www.icrc.org.

Bonafacio Mazia, 57, lost his left leg to an anti-personnel landmine in 1987 during Mozambique’s civil war, which lasted from 1977 to 1992. Mazia continues to farm, having developed extraordinary balance. With his wife carrying the hoe, every day he hobbles 45 minutes each way to his garden plot. Photo: ©Brent Stirton/Getty Images

In January 2006, when Sajad Faleh was 4 years old, he and three brothers found an unexploded cluster munition and began playing with it. The subsequent explosion killed Sajad’s two older brothers, lacerated the stomach of his younger brother and amputated both Sajad’s legs. He is waiting for an assessment at the ICRC’s Physical Rehabilitation Centre, in Najaf, Iraq.
Photo: ©Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

Juan Ramón López, 55, was working as a freelance deminer on a coffee plantation near the border of Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998 when an anti-personnel mine blew off one leg. The next year he was clearing another area when a mine amputated his other leg. He now works as a gold miner, standing in the sluice on his stumps, running his hands through the gravelly water, his prosthetic legs and metal crutches left lying in the leaves.
Photo: ©Sebastian Liste/Getty Images

Juan Ramón López, 55, was working as a freelance deminer on a coffee plantation near the border of Nicaragua and Honduras in 1998 when an anti-personnel mine blew off one leg. The next year he was clearing another area when a mine amputated his other leg. He now works as a gold miner, standing in the sluice on his stumps, running his hands through the gravelly water, his prosthetic legs and metal crutches left lying in the leaves. Photo: ©Sebastian Liste/Getty Images

In November 2013, in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Mirza Smajlovic, 12, Denis
Merdzanovic, 12, Alen Konakovic, 14 and Jasmin Sidran, 12 (left to right) were playing with their friend Mirza Merdzanovic, 10 (cousin of Denis), when they found a bag of weapons in a stream. Mirza put a rifle grenade together and hit it against a wall. The explosion killed him and injured these four boys.
Photo: ©Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

Nine-year-old Mek, holds the portrait of Somak Toe, 12, who was one of three boys killed by an unexploded ordnance they were carrying home by bicycle. More than 270 million cluster submunitions were dropped on Laos during the Viet Nam/US war, which ran from 1963 to 1972. Photo: ©Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

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