The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Blasting those land mines

War survivors can't farm the minefields

At first glance, the idea of banning lan d mines doesn't seem very urgent. Most of us have never lived in war zones. Nor have we been forced off our land and then returned to farm it, only to discover that it's been seeded with thousands of land mines.

Nor have we tried to cultivate our land and had a leg blown off. "More legs, less arms" is a macabre Cambodian slogan about the impact of anti-personnel land mines in that country, where one of every 237 people has lost a limb.

Up to 2 million mines go into the ground each year in various regional disputes. Children often discover them first because the 2-by-4-inch "butterfly" mines look like toys. They can be distributed from helicopters by the thousands. Angola contains 9 million land mines, one for every man, woman and child in the country. Along the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique, 1 million acres of agricultural land is left uncultivated because of land mines. The United Nations estimates that it would take 1,000 mine clearers more than 30 years to discover the 6 million mines scattered across Bosnia and Croatia.

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