"In Nicaragua…when they have rehabilitation centers, they are mostly in the capital, so it’s very difficult for people living in the countryside to get attention." - Sebastian Liste, photographer, on Nicaragua’s legacy of landmines.
Before Nicaragua ratified the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, in 1999, sixteen of its seventeen provinces were mine-affected, particularly rural communities and poorer areas. Just eleven years later, in 2010, Nicaragua was declared mine free, having cleared over 179,000 anti-personnel mines from its territory as well as half-a-million unexploded ordnance. There will no longer be new landmine victims in Nicaragua or in any other mine-free country, but this is of little help to survivors like Juan Lopez, above.
Back in the 1980’s, during the civil war in Nicaragua, Lopez was an able-bodied combatant. Both parties to the conflict laid AP landmines, especially in the north along the Honduras border. After the war, Lopez began working as a freelance deminer for farmers hiring former combatants for land clearance. In 1997, Lopez was demining a coffee plantation and stepped on an anti-personnel mine, blowing off one foot. A year later, he was demining his own farmland, stepped on another mine, and lost his other foot. Photographer Sebastian Liste met Juan Lopez while covering the legacy of landmines in Nicaragua. Watch this video to hear Sebastian Liste tell the story of Juan Lopez and other landmine victims.
In late 2013 and early 2014, five Reportage photographers undertook a group project, commissioned by the ICRC, to document landmines, cluster munitions, and unexploded remnants of war. For this project, Brent Stirton worked in Mozambique, Veronique de Viguerie in Bosnia, Marco Di Lauro in Iraq, Sebastian Liste in Nicaragua, and Paula Bronstein in Laos. Watch this space in the following week for videos about landmine clearance in these other countries.