Landmines are unaffected by cease-fires or peace. The only way to deactivate them is by individual
removal at a cost of US$300–1000 per mine. Even with training, mine disposal experts expect that for
every 5000 mines cleared one worker will be killed and two workers will be injured by accidental explosions.
Estimated extent of mine contamination in affected states as of October 2013
States with very heavy contamination (more than 100km2)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Morocco (Western Sahara)
States with heavy contamination (10–100km2)
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Mine action is not just about landmines. In many countries, unexploded ordnance, or UXO, poses an even greater
threat to people's safety. UXO comprises bombs, mortars, grenades, missiles or other devices that fail to detonate
as designed but remain volatile and can kill if touched or moved. Some of the main sources of UXO are cluster bombs.
Today, mine-action programmes typically address problems of landmines, UXO and "explosive remnants of war," which
includes UXO and "abandoned ordnance," or weapons and remnant Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) left behind by armed
forces when they leave an area.
Landmines are used for...
Defending Military Positions:
Warring groups use land mines to provide additional protection for their forces and positions.
Land mines are often used to prevent people and vehicles from moving through certain areas, and to channel them on
to certain routes from which they can not deviate.
Defending Socioeconomic Targets:
The most common use of mines in civil conflicts is to protect economic and social targets such as bridges, dams, oil,
gas and water pipelines and railroad stations from attack or sabotage by the enemy.
Causing Chaos, Terror and Economic Dislocation:
Increasingly over the last two decades, land mines have come to serve
not only as military but as political weapons. Many parties to civil conflicts have sought to instill a sense of dissatisfaction
in the civilian population, based on the perceived impotence of the government to protect them from mine casualties. In addition,
by laying mines in agricultural fields and plantations, around irrigation systems, in forests necessary for firewood, and in
villages themselves, groups of combatants have succeeded in driving large numbers of civilians out of rural areas and into large
cities and towns, adding enormously to thesocial and economic burdens of those in control of the cities.
Casualties by Explosive Type
There are three general types of antipersonnel land mines:
Explosive blast effect AP Land Mines: "Irresistable to Children"
These are the most commonly found antipersonnel land mines, designed to rip off the lower half of the leg and project shoe,
dirt and bone higher up into the leg, causing secondary infection and higher amputation. They are sold for as little as $3 each.
One type of explosive blast effect AP mine is the "butterfly" mine, commonly found in Afghanistan. These have a combination of odd
shape and bright color that seems irresistible to children.
FRAGMENTATION AP Land Mines: Death from 50 Meters
Most of these mines have metal casings designed to rupture into fragments upon the detonation of the mine, or are stuffed with ball
bearings, flechettes (tiny metal darts), or metal fragments that are turned into lethal projectiles by the detonation of the mine.
They can cause extensive damage to the legs, stomach and chest. Most AP mines shoot their fragments within a 60° horizontal arc and a
2 meter vertical height and can kill up to 50 meters from the mine.
BOUNDING AP Mines: "Bouncing Betties"
Perhaps the most deadly of all AP land mines are the bounding fragmentation land mines, or "bouncing betties." These mines are
generally triggered by as little as 1.5kg of pressure on trip wires and/or direct pressure. Once triggered, a first charge lifts
the mine up to waist height before fully detonating. Upon detonation, the explosion shoots out metal fragments in a 360-degree
horizontal arc. These fragments can kill up to 35 meters or more from the land mine, and severe injuries at more than 100 meters.