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A recent report on the ban the production and the use of landmines which appeared in the International Post caught my attention. Credit for the lucidly written report should be given to Ms Kazka, a colleague of mine, who illuminated the pertinent issues involved in the controversy revolving the production of landmines. Although the Philippines is fortunate enough not to have experienced the anguish of states like Afghanistan and Bosnia, we as a nation, averse at atrocities brought about by warfare, should contribute to the advancement of this noble cause of banning the production, the use and the demining of landmines.

As Ms Kazka reported, each day landmines kill or wound an estimated 75 people worldwide. Ninety percent of these victims are civilians. Among the victims may be a teenage girl gathering firewood in Cambodia. A grandfather herding sheep in Afghanistan. Or a boy running across an empty field in Angola. What makes antipersonnel mines so abhorrent is the indiscriminate destruction they cause. Mines cannot be aimed. They lie dormant until a person or animal triggers their detonating mechanism. Antipersonnel mines cannot distinguish between the footfall of a soldier and that of a child. Those who survive the initial blast usually require amputations, long hospital stays, and extensive rehabilitative services. These people do not usually recover from the psychological strain that the explosions cause. Moreover, they are discriminated by people in their respective society and are considered lower class people.

Vivid images of the leg-less people were described in detail by the report In Cambodia alone there are over 35,000 amputees injured by anti-personnel landmines--and they are the survivors. Many others die in the fields from loss of blood or lack of transport to get medical help. Mine deaths and injuries in the past few decades total in the hundreds of thousands. Landmines are now a daily threat in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chechnya, Croatia, Iraq, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Somalia, and dozens of other countries. Mines recognize no cease-fire and long after the fighting has stopped they continue to maim or kill. Mines also render large tracts of agricultural land unusable, wreaking environmental and economic devastation.

Refugees returning to their war-ravaged countries face this life-threatening obstacle to rebuilding their lives. Leading producers and exporters of antipersonnel mines in the past 25 years include China, Italy, the former Soviet Union, and the United States. More than 50 countries have manufactured as many as 200 million antipersonnel landmines in the last 25 years.

According to the latest count, more than 350 ...

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