The Land Mine Menace
Approximately 50 million land mines are currently in the ground in more than 60 countries. An unknown number of these are active, waiting for an unsuspecting victim to trigger their explosion.
More often than not, that victim will be a civilian going about his or her daily business. In 2005, 75 percent of reported worldwide land mine casualties were civilians. 19 percent were children. In post-conflict Afghanistan alone, 46 percent of land mine injuries affected children under the age of 16.
When a civilian or soldier activates a land mine, any number of debilitating injuries can result. Land mines kill their victims upon detonation about half the time. For those who do survive, the blast sends shock waves up the limb which triggered it, devitalizing bony and soft tissue and often necessitating amputation far above the site of the injury. Victims may be blinded or deafened by the blast, and other parts of their bodies may be shredded by shrapnel.
The psychological impact of land mine injury is enormous. Many survivors suffer from debilitating depression, affecting their ability to cope with their disabilities. In 2004-05, there were an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 new land mine casualties globally. These occurred in 58 countries, of which only 25 were engaged in active conflict. In developing countries around the world emerging from conflict, land mines prevent redevelopment by limiting transport and travel and making it prohibitively dangerous for farmers to work their land. Moreover, despite the existence of an international campaign to ban land mines, use of the weapons continues in conflicts around the world. While fewer states produce, trade and employ land mines to wage their battles, non-state actors are responsible for an increasing proportion of newly placed land mines.
The land mine problem may have faded from public view, but it has not gone away. In countries with active minefields, there is a need for both minefield clearance and for assistance to survivors. Minefield clearance is technically challenging and expensive - despite advances in technology, most clearance is still conducted by dedicated and professional deminers. This year, members of the Emory community are hosting a variety of fundraisers in support of the mine-clearance organization Adopt-a-Minefield as part of the national Night of 1000 Dinners.
Between March 23 and April 2, Emory students and faculty will host breakfasts, brunches, lunches, parties and dinners at their homes where guests will bring donations for land mine action. Many of these events are open invitation. To see the schedule of events or to learn more, please visit www.emorynights1000dinners.com.
Emily Churchman is a second year MPH candidate at Rollins School of Public Health.
Von: 27.03.2007 by Emily Churchman, www.emorywheel.com