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Tuesday, January 12, 1999 Published at 04:58 GMT


Scourge of the landmine

A soldier clears a landmine after the Gulf War

Landmine organisations are due to receive £1m from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund - but it is badly needed because of the scale of the problem.

  • Worldwide, mines kill or maim about 500 people a week - or one every 20 minutes.

  • Former war zones such as Cambodia, Angola and Bosnia are littered with mines, and the UN estimates there are many as 100 million in place worldwide.

  • 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.

  • Mass production of landmines makes them one of the cheapest and most effective military tools available to armies and rebel groups, but they can remain active for up to 50 years - often long after conflicts have ended.

  • Most victims of landmines are civilians, not soldiers, with poor farmers and their children most frequently harmed.

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

  • In December 1997 128 countries signed the Ottowa Treaty to ban the use and production of anti-personnel mines. It will come into force in March this year.

  • The two biggest producers and users of mines are now believed to be Russia and China.

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