The Problem of Landmines in Angola and Worldwide
Despite the fact that 151 countries have already signed and ratified the international convention against manufacturing and use of landmines, 13 countries are still making and laying them. In 2006 the Landmine Monitor identified 78 states, which to some extent are endangered by the land mines planted there. In 58 of them there were reported approx. 15,000 accidents caused by explosion only in one year (on average one every 20 mins.). Globally, it accounts for 400,000 to 500,000 people, killed or wounded by landmines. It is estimated that the total global number of landmines is approximately 110m – most of which are located in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sudan, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia countries. The most dramatic consequences of landmines are death or a lifelong disability. One should not forget, however, about the social consequences like: inability to farm land, which contributes to growing poverty, no access to safe drinking water or firewood. Mined roads make it impossible to deliver effective development and humanitarian aid.
Main measures counteracting land mines include clearing land of mines, educating local communities about the mine threats, helping the victims, destroying different kinds of weapons and lobbying for introduction of general ban on manufacturing and planting land mines.
According to statistics of the organizations that deal with clearing land of mines, yearly they clear the area of 700 sq km, destroying about 450,000 mines (mainly land ones).
Angola is a country where a military conflict have been continuing since 1964. Initially, until 1975 it was a war of independence from Portugal colonial authorities. After gaining independence a civil war broke out. Within 27 years of deadly conflict, the country was laid with 10 million mines.
In the opinion of the Institute of Socio-Professional Reintegration for Ex-combatants (IRSEM) every day approx. 2.2m citizens living on 75% of the territory of the country lives under the threat of explosion of different kind of ammunitions. It is estimated that in Angola there live approx. 600,000 disabled people, which makes approx. 3% of the population.
In Angola there are eleven Orthopedic Centers which rehabilitate the mine victims. Numerous NGOs deal with different forms of psychological, social and professional rehabilitation.
Preparation and photos: Anna Kudarewska