Besides killing and causing horrific injuries, explosive weapons spread terror, make people fear for their lives, devastate vital infrastructures and prolong the effect of war even after the end of a conflict. On International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Handicap International highlights the incredible work of deminers all over the world.
Published last November, the Landmine Monitor reported a record increase in the number of casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), up 75% from 2014. The vast majority of people killed and injured in these attacks were civilians. This depressing finding is directly linked to the intensive use in recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere of explosive weapons in populated areas.
“Bombing and shelling not only has a devastating impact during an attack, these weapons also leave behind large quantities of explosive remnants of war, since a significant proportion of weapons do not explode on impact. These explosive remnants continue to put civilian lives at risk long after fighting or a conflict is over. They pose exactly the same threat as anti-personnel mines,” explains Aleema Shivji Executive director of Handicap International UK
Every day, inspiring staff from Handicap International are demining the countries most affected by explosive remnants of war.
Inspiring staff like Ali who has been working in Lebanon for 10 years. So far he helped destroy 700 mines, saving 700 lives. Or Shoresh in Iraq and Tong in Laos who respectively destroyed 190 and 115 mines in 7 years, saving hundreds of lives
Marta, in Colombia, has never forgotten a lucky escape she had when she was a teenager. She now oversees mine clearance operations in Colombia for Handicap International. “When I was fourteen I stumbled on a mine as I was walking through my village. It was damp so it didn’t go off. I saw people maimed by mines when I was growing up. I saw children die for a war that wasn’t theirs. Like many people, violence had a big impact on us. And now I’m a mine clearance expert. I really love my work. I can’t tell you how great it feels when I finish clearing a mined area.” says Marta.
Ali, Shoresh, Tong amd Marta are four of a number of Handicap International deminers whose day job is to save lives.
Interviews available upon request.
Pictures available upon request
Marlene Sigonney, Handicap International UK
media[at]hi-uk.org | +44 (0)870 774 3737 | +44 (0)7508 810 520
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International works in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights.
After a long campaign against landmines and cluster munitions which led to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, Handicap International now aims to stop the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Handicap International is a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Cluster Munition Coalition and the International Network on Explosive Weapons.