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November 26, 2004

It is an old story but it is happening today": The Ongoing Tradgedy Of Landmines."

Topics: International News (Nairobi), in "Agony of Lives Led And Lost in Fear of Stepping On Landmines." November 23, 2004

Simon Loboi was walking from his home to Umrok Torit town in Southern Sudan when he stepped on a landmine.

He was going to join other enthusiastic villagers to celebrate the victory of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) over government forces. The town had been under government control for as long as he could remember.

"In a flash of a second, my foot had been torn into pieces. The pain was too much to bear. I cried like a child Even after neighbours rushed to my side on hearing the blast and administered First Aid, before taking me to a local health centre. Nothing could save my dear foot - it was gone forever," Loboi, 28, said last week in Lokichogio.

He now walks with crutches as he waits to be fitted with an artificial leg by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Loboi is one of the landmine victims from Southern Sudan waiting for the limbs at Red Cross-run Lopding Hospital, located about 40km from the Kenya/Sudan border.

"I was devastated after the blast. I could not accept that I will never walk on my two feet again," said Loboi.

Several victims of anti-personnel landmines from the war-ravaged Sudan narrated heart-rending stories of a life led in perpetual fear of the deadly weapon the world is campaigning to ban.

"If we suspect a land mine has been planted at a particular place, we drive our cattle, goats and sheep to the point. Many are the times the animals have stepped on the landmines and sustained serious injuries," said another victim, Mr Abraham Boll.

Asked why they risk their animals, Abraham said, "It is better to have your best bull killed by a landmine than lose your foot. In any case, people feast on the meat.

"When we take out cattle to the fields to graze in the morning, we are not sure of returning alive or with both our legs intact. Our parents caution us to be careful of where we step and not to play in areas covered by grass since landmines could be buried there," said William Kwal, also from Southern Sudan.

The victims said the most mined parts of the south were those that were occupied by government forces for many years.

What do they think of last week's Nairobi peace deal between SPLM/A and the Government?

"I hope all Sudanese refugees will return home and join those of us who remained behind in developing our country. We hope to live peacefully following years of war that have produced no winner or loser," said Loboi.

It is estimated that there are 10,000 landmine victims in Sudan, with 1,090 victims registered at the National Mine Action Office (NMAO).

Around 50 per cent of those registered are male and one out of four is a child.

Available statistics show that about 70 per cent of the registered victims survived the blasts, while 29 per cent died.

There is also, "Africa: Well-Known And Invisible Killer Littered Throughout Africa."

November 24, 2004, UN Integrated Regional Information Networks.


They threaten the peace, stability and development of the world's poorest continent and kill or mutilate 12,000 people each year. This was the reason that African governments agreed recently to a landmark initiative aimed at eliminating an estimated 40 million landmines from the continent.

At the African Union (AU) headquarters in Addis Ababa, a new "common African position" was unveiled on 17 September 2004. It aims to ensure that the continent becomes an anti-personnel mine (APM) free zone, with a framework largely centred on the 1997 Ottawa Convention. The initiative also stresses inter-African cooperation as a vital issue in successful mine clearance and calls for more support for victims and greater transparency by governments.

Among the innovations that were agreed on was a call by African nations to countries which have laid landmines throughout the continent during World War II to "devote a reasonable percentage of their military budgets" to clearing them.

In Egypt, for example, some 17 million landmines remain buried in the desert, a deadly legacy of World War II.

The new position was agreed ahead of the Nairobi Summit in November 2004 on a Mine-Free World that will look at the progress made in the last seven years since the Ottawa Convention was drafted.

Under the convention, which came into force in 1999 and was signed by 143 countries, nations that are party to the treaty must not use, stockpile, produce or transfer APMs. Still, even though African governments had backed the common strategy and some 48 joined the Ottawa Convention, a number of nations have not yet ratified the treaty. These include Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco and Somalia.

Ethiopian officials told IRIN that ratification was in the pipeline and a draft was expected before their parliament meets in the coming months. They said delays in ratification had stemmed largely from security concerns along their borders due to conflicts against neighbouring countries like Eritrea in 1998 and Somalia in 1977.

However, Egypt, whose country is infested with an estimated tenth of the world's 200 million landmines, is still reluctant to agree to the convention.

(click image to enlarge - The Blues and Red Defenders, all soccer sensations and victims of landmine explosions, pose after a match. IRIN photo)

"We do not believe in a total and free ban of landmines as long as many actors, including the major producers, are still out of the convention," an Egyptian diplomat told IRIN recently.

"There are three major shortcomings in the Ottawa Convention as far as we see it," the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "There should be a real obligation, not moral obligation, to demine. States should have the right to get assistance where their countries have been mined and we also need to differentiate between landmines for protection, for national security and those landmines used for other purposes like terrorism. You should be given the right to defend yourself."

Some 30 countries in Africa report being affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance and 10, including Angola, Mozambique and Sudan, say they suffer a high level of casualties.
Read More .....

Again, there are always some old stories that are always the story of the day in someone's life today. This seems to be certainly the case with landmines, they just lie there in wait for some innocent person to come along and die or be crippled for life. So far, America can be thankful that we have no actual landmines to contend with. Unfortunately, there are geo-political, political, and spiritual landmines that do threaten us. How we deal with them now may determine just how crippled our society will be in the future.

Posted by Hyscience at November 26, 2004 12:30 PM

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