Over the past few years, photographer Marco Grob has photographed people who have been injured by land mines in war-ravaged countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mali and South Sudan. He believes his mission is to deliver this message: The world must do more to clear these mines.
Mohammed Omer has cleared more than 750 mines in Afghanistan. (Marco Grob)
HARRISONBURG - Children in the United States don’t have to worry about stepping on landmines while walking to school, hiking through the woods, or playing a pick-up game of soccer on a makeshift field. But for millions of children in other parts of the world, the risks are all too real.
While the potential loss of life is the biggest concern, it’s not the only one for those who live in the 59 countries contaminated with landmines left behind from years of war. The mines are a threat to those countries’ economies, too.
The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University used last week’s Post-Conflict Recovery Week to raise awareness about mine-related issues. Friday was the United Nation’s International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. CISR publishes the Journal of ERW and Mine Action and runs programs to help victims and help rid communities of mines.
According to reports conducted by the United Nations, over 15,000 people are killed or injured by land mines around the world every year.
That is equivalent to more than half the population of the undergraduate students at JMU becoming amputees or dying due to unexploded ordinances. Though around the world it is not just young adults who are affected, as land mine victims are usually the elderly or children.
“Right now there are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees outside Syria. Hundreds of thousands are in Jordan,” Ken Rutherford, director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery, said. “When there is peace in Syria they are going to return home, and what they’re going to find is crumbled buildings mixed with unexploded ammunition.”
A poster for Handicap International’s “Fashion Victim” campaign. The group says some countries continue to use landmines and cluster bombs, which leave many innocent victims in their wake. (CNW Group/Handicap International)
They have been called “weapons of mass destruction in slow motion” and have killed or maimed hundreds of thousands over the past century.
Today, landmine accidents claim about 12 lives per day in over 80 countries and territories around the world. There are an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 landmine survivors globally—most of whom are innocent civilians who have lost limbs or suffer permanent disability from their injuries.
Anti-landmine group Handicap International Canada aims to change these grim statistics with its new “Fashion Victim” campaign, which raises awareness of the ongoing use of landmines and cluster bombs and the many innocent victims they leave in their wake.
Princess Diana was making what would be one of her last visits in her life, visiting Bosnia to meet with people who had been injured or lost limbs because of landmines.
She met and listened to people’s stories of how they were coping since losing an arm or leg because of a landmine, and also of how having a prosthetic limb affected their everyday life.
Diana met with one man who had lost both his feet because of standing on a landmine, she promised him that he would soon be getting replacement prosthetic feet, which were a gift from the Landmine Survivor’s network.
The ceremony of signing a document on launching the third phase of the project “Training on small businesses and micro-credit funds for victims of mines in Azerbaijan” was held on July 12 at the headquarters of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA).
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Azerbaijan and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the framework of the socio-economic reintegration of mine victims.
"As part of the project 40 people affected by mines from Aghjabadi, Beylagan, Imishli, Saatli and Bilasuvar regions will be provided with micro-credits. Duration of the project is 15 months," ANAMA Director Nazim Ismayilov said.