The Hidden Problem That Kills 15,000 People Every Year


In an age of shooting sprees and suicide bombings, landmines seem a distant threat. But in the last week alone, seven people were killed when they came into contact with the explosive devices: an 11-year-old boy in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, one person in the disputed territory of Western Sahara, and at least five were killed in Paksitan’s Balochistan province. Often decades old, landmines litter the terrain of resolved conflicts and pose continuing threats to those who live in their midst.

According to the United Nations, there are 110 million land mines still buried in the ground — and more than 15,000 people are killed by landmines every year.



Fadil Mustafa and his family fled their village when ISIS moved in on Kobane last fall. But with their backs to the militant group, they faced an unexpected threat.


“As we crossed [into Turkey],” the 13-year-old told Al-Jazeera, “A mine exploded under my brother and me. My brother was killed. I lost my legs.”

Turkey signed the Mine Ban Treaty in 2003 but has been slow to begin the expensive and painstaking task of clearing mines. To make matters worse, Human Rights Watchbelieves that Syria has planted landmines along its borders with Turkey and also Lebanon.

It can cost up to $1000 to clear a single mine, according to the Halo Trust, a charitable organization that has committed to clearing mines around the world for the last 25 years. The organization recently released a report on its work to rid the world of landmines which not only pose grave risks to people’s lives – but also to their livelihoods.



“We destroyed several MON-200s here,” Daniel Antonio said referring to Soviet-made mines which each contain 26 pounds of explosives.

Antonio worked with Halo to help clear a plot of land in southern Angola that belonged, in part, to his grandfather. His work has helped his own family and others in the area to be able to plant crops there without fear, increasing their incomes and their quality of life.

The Halo Trust has destroyed 86,000 mines in Angola, a country dotted with them as a result of a 27-year long civil war that ended in 2002. The West African nation signed onto the United Nation chartered Mine Ban Treaty that same year.



But many countries, however, including China, India, Pakistan, and the United States have refused to sign the Mine Ban treaty. Five non-signers – Israel, Libya, Myanmar, Russia, and Syria – have used landmines since 2009.

Here are some more facts about the hidden – but very real danger – of landmines:






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