Tag Archives | landmines
Will the landmines that were sprinkled across vast swaths of the globe during brutal twentieth-century wars ironically end up saving nature? In Bosnia, “nowhere [in the countryside] is safe” from mines — meaning that animals and plants can flourish where people fear to tread. BLDG BLOG has a gallery of gorgeous mine-infested landscapes and the horrifying devices buried beneath the surfaces:
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The Minescape project by Los Angeles-based photographer Brett Van Ort looks at the ironic effects of landmines on the preservation of natural landscapes, placing woods, meadows, and even remote country roads off-limits, fatally tainted terrains given back to animals and vegetation.
“Left over munitions and landmines from the wars in the early 1990s still litter the countryside in Bosnia,” Van Ort explains. Many deminers in the field believe roughly 10% of the country can still be deemed a landmine area. They also feel that nowhere in the countryside is safe, as they may clear one area but a torrential downpour may unearth landmines upstream or upriver.
Surprising, but welcome, news from the BBC:
Rwanda has been declared free of landmines – the first country to achieve this status.
The announcement was made at the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World in Colombia. Hundreds of people have been killed and horrifically injured by landmines in Rwanda.
Landmines were laid between 1990 and 1994 in Rwanda and over the past three years more than over 9,000 have been destroyed by Rwandan soldiers.
Ben Remfrey of the Mines Awareness Trust, which supervised the clearance, says although other countries have had far more mines laid, this is a significant step. “Rwanda has made history by becoming the first country in the world to be officially declared free from landmines,” he told the BBC World Service…
Charley Keyes writes on CNN:
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The United States won’t join its NATO allies and many other countries in formally banning landmines, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said during his midday briefing Tuesday.
“This administration undertook a policy review and we decided our landmine policy remains in effect,” Kelly said in response to a question. “We made our policy review and we determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention.”
Opponents of the U.S. landmine policy said they were surprised. “It is a disturbing development,” said Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch. “The administration never said a policy review was under way.”
Goose said the decision to leave the policy in place is at odds with the administration’s professed commitments to international agreements and humanitarian issues. “The international treaty against landmines has made a a huge difference and it is a very strong deterrent,” Goose said.