Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Monday, March 1, 1999 Published at 01:10 GMT


Scourge of the landmine

A soldier clears a landmine after the Gulf War

The UK and Canada championed the Nobel-prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

More than 150 countries signed the Ottawa Treaty to ban the use and production of anti-personnel mines.

Defence Correspondent Mark Laity: "Treaty ... a major step"
The British Army recently reported that it has already destroyed its 2 million mines, while the Royal Air Force will follow suit by 2000.

Discarded landmines, which are notoriously difficult to detect and remove, are estimated to kill or maim one person every 20 minutes worldwide.

Most of the victims are non-combatants, often blown up long after conflicts have ended or moved away.

Mapping of minefields in blackspots such as Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia has been practically non-existent making the job of monitoring and clearance both hazardous and expensive.

Cheap and efficient

Military planners insist landmines are indispensable in denying territory to enemy forces, but they also render valuable agricultural land useless until they are cleared away.

The mass production of landmines also makes them one of the cheapest and most effective weapons on the market.

Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali described mines as "the most lethal and long-lasting form of pollution yet encountered".

The battlefields of Cambodia, Angola and Bosnia are littered with mines - the UN estimates there are many as 100 million in place worldwide.

But it is much easier and quicker to lay and hide a mine than to detect and disarm it.

Clearance can cost up to £750 a mine and the weapon can remain active for up to 50 years long after most conflicts have ended.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

01 Mar 99 | World
Mine ban gets Papal support

29 Jan 99 | Angola
Landmines: War's deadly legacy

12 Jan 99 | UK
Clearance groups call for share of Diana cash

Internet Links

International Campaign to Ban Land Mines

Landmine Who's Who

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named