As a refugee you never know when is the right time to go back home. For some of us there is no home to return to. After picking this topic and doing some research I find it hard to write this paper without crying, I had a first hand experience on this topic. I was born in Sierra Leone a country in West Africa. Sierra Leone is a third war country and landmines had destroyed most of our land, nature resources and infrastructure. This lead me to my topic antipersonnel landmines. Listen to my pain and help me fight for change.
Antipersonnel landmines kill thousands of people every year. Antipersonnel landmines do not recognize a cease-fire; they continue killing or maiming for many years after the conflict is over. Antipersonnel landmines do not discriminate between soldiers or civilians. On the contrary, more and more they are being used in an indiscriminate way, terrorizing civilians and transforming agricultural fields into killing fields.
In addition, de-mining is a very slow and very expensive process, and after a war most countries are not prepared to cope with the constant health care demands imposed by the number of injured by landmines. Finally, landmines make it very difficult for refugees like me to go back home. As response to the landmine problem, the international community has come up with a treaty to ban landmines. On March 1, 1999, the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty came into effect; so far 134 countries have signed the treaty. Unfortunately, the U. S. is not one of them.
Bomb can kill at up to 50 meters then any others mine. The end result in all the cases is either death (mostly in the case of children) or loss of body parts. In contrast with other armaments, landmines cannot be aimed to specific targets. Once deployed, they cannot be controlled. Even when the conflict is over, they cannot be stopped. They can remain active for as long as 50 years. Land mines placed today may still be killing and maiming in the middle of the next century (Grant 1). Landmines cause indiscriminate destruction and do not differentiate between soldiers, civilians, children, animals, or tractors. It is estimated that land mines have killed or injured more than one million persons since 1975, the vast majority of them civilians (Grant 2). Furthermore, the United Nations reports that every month over 2,000 people are killed or maimed by mine explosions.
Moreover, after the Second World War landmines have been used in agricultural lands, water sources, religious shrines, and also as anti-morale, or terror weapons targeting civilian populations (Faulkner 3, 4). According to the United Nations, landmines can cost as little as $3.00. Because they are cheap and effective, they are being used more and more in different conflicts around the world. It is estimated that more than 110 million active mines are scattered in 70 countries around the world (United Nations 1).
However, the inexpensive cost of landmines is in great contrast with the expensive cost to remove them. According to Patrick Blagden, a United Nations de-mining expert, de-mining costs between US $300 and US $1,000 per mine. Countries like my country that have suffered a war in their own land encounter many rehabilitation tasks; landmines make these tasks very difficult and also put an extra economic burden on the country. There are more amputees in Sierra Leone due to landmines. This is killing my brother and sister and destroying our land even though the civil war had ended six year ago.
As is the case with the price of de-mining, the healthcare expenses imposed by the landmine injured are very high. Most of the time, a war-torn country like my does not have the healthcare infrastructure necessary to cope with the demands imposed by this kind of injury.
For example, the United Nations reports that the number of units of blood required to operate on patients with mine injuries is between 2 and 6 times greater than that needed by other war casualties (Grant 7). These expenses are only for physical injuries and are not taking under consideration any psychological damage. Up to 1995, there are at least 250,000 landmine-disabled persons in the world (Faulkner 1, 2). This number gives a clear picture of the magnitude of the healthcare problem confronted by the affected countries.
The indiscriminate use of landmines in rural areas has been devastating for my hometown. I leave my village ten years ago due to civil wars and I had lived in five different countries in Africa as a refugee. My village was not destroy during the civil war, but in 2009, I was told a landmines when off in our village destroying our cemetery and broken our water line. Now my village doesn’t have any running water. Fertile agricultural lands are turned into unusable and uninhabitable landmine fields. And the grazing of livestock and domesticated animals becomes very dangerous for both the animals and the people taking care of them a labor very often done by children. The economic and social consequences are impoverishment and malnutrition, accompanied by the feeling of despair and helplessness. In addition, the use of bomb makes it very difficult for refugees like me to go back to my villages.
Landmines make the recovery process for countries that have suffered a war in their own land extremely difficult. Landmines put a tremendous economic burden along with psychological effects in the morale of the population; they may even perpetuate the conditions for a future conflict. The United States should sign the Mine Ban Treaty now. And also, America should put pressure on other countries to do the same.
Please help me spread the word; you don’t need to look no further to find someone who had been affect by bomb, I am right in front of you. Human civilization should not begin a new millennium with the knowledge that new landmines are being produced and planted.
Grant, James P. "A Catastrophe for Children." UNICEF. n.d. 25 April 1999. .
Faulkner, Frank. "The Most Pernicious Weapon: Landmines." Contemporary Review 270. 1574 (1994): 136-142. InfoTrac, ASAP Expanded Academic ASAP, 15 April 1999.
United Nations. Land Mine Facts. 19 April 1999.
Microsoft Encarta 97 Encyclopedia. "Bomb (Warfare)." CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation. 2 cds. 1993-1996.
Heilbrunn, Jacob. "Minefield of Dreams." New Republic. 13 Oct. 1997: 4-6. InfoTrac. Academic Abstracts FullText Ultra, 14 April 1999.
Human Rights Watch Organization. The Global Landmine Crisis. Human Rights Watch Arms Project Report. April 1999. 22April 1999.