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The Long-Lasting Consequences of Landmines

This year, Easter will be celebrated on April 4th. This date also stands for the International Mine Awareness Day. A very serious problem that often does not receive enough attention because it is simply not part of many everyday lives. Today, we want to shed some light on the consequences of this widespread problem.

When one starts to get involved with a new issue, the first question asked is usually how great the problem really is. And that is that main problem you will encounter. In fact, nobody can tell with certainty how many landmines are in the ground around the world. This is mainly due to the records of those who have placed them being very incomplete or incorrect, but many times simply inexistant. Many have been randomly dropped by planes over huge “enemy” zones.

Thus, not all mined areas have been identified and that they keep changing. Natural occurrences such as floods, earthquakes or sandstorms have been moving known or unknown mines around. And still more concerning is to know that are many recent reports of new antipersonnel mines appearing in conflict regions.

According to the World Economic Forum, there are still around 50 million antipersonnel mines stockpiled around the world and ready to be used. So, instead of looking at the number around landmines themselves, we should try to understand how this situation affects the communities around them.

Every hour, people die or lose limbs from stepping on a landmine. 87% of these victims are civilians. Most of them, living in countries at peace. 42% of them are children.

Fifty-nine states and other areas are contaminated by antipersonnel mines as of October 2019 according to Landmine Monitor 2019 data.

Let’s take the example of Egypt, considered the country most contaminated by landmines in the world with an estimate of approximately 23,000,000 landmines. The north coast of the country has been contaminated during World War II, while Britain and its allies (including Egyptian forces) were fighting German and Italian forces for control of North Africa.

Later, between 1956 and 1973, areas to the east, including the Sinai Peninsula, were flooded by landmines during the hostilities between Egypt and Israel. These two areas, considered to be the richest ones in the country, with great oil and mineral wealth (e.g. petroleum and natural gas) total 22% of the country’s surface.

The economic development of the areas in the north coast and Red Sea is severely hindered by mine and UXO contamination and the high civilian casualty rates. Keeping in mind that agriculture is one of the mainstays of the Egyptian economy, it is virtually impossible to get around the problems caused by landmines historically.

Many of our members who have served in the Army have experience with landmines while on duty and know how serious this threat is. For all the others, we hope to have contributed to raising awareness on this horrible issue.