in 1997 I attended the International Campaign to Ban Landmines conference in Maputo, Mozambique where Jody Williams, who later received the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, spoke eloquently against weapons that keep killing long after a conflict ends.
Mozambique had just ended a 20 year war that left millions of land mines behind.
From Maputo, I traveled to Angola where another 20 year war ended leaving behind an estimated 10 million land mines. There I accompanied MAG, the London based Mine Advisory Group, that clears land mines.
Because no one controls the detonation of land mines, they can be referred to as victim-activated weapons. Since mines are not aimed at a specific target they can indiscriminately kill or injure civilians, including children, soldiers, peace keepers, and aid workers. A land mine blast can cause injuries such as blindness, burns, damaged limbs, and shrapnel wounds. Stepping on a small antipersonnel mine will invariably cause foot and leg injuries.
Syrians fleeing the war in their country cross over the border with Turkey and encounter fields of land mines.
According to the Turkish government, 600,000 land mines remain along the border that were placed there in the 1950’s to discourage illegal border crossings.