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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
Blast journalist fights landmines
Stuart Hughes
I am trying to rid northern Iraq of the scourge of these horrific weapons
Stuart Hughes

A BBC journalist who lost part of his right leg when he stepped on a landmine has held the anti-personnel device for the first time since the explosion in northern Iraq.

Producer Stuart Hughes was filming in the Kurdish-held town of Kifri, when his four-man crew was mistakenly guided into a minefield.

In the explosions which followed, Stuart's colleague, cameraman Kaveh Golestan, 52, was killed and Stuart's injuries were so severe that his foot and lower leg later had to be amputated.

The 31-year-old is now undergoing rehabilitation in his home city of Cardiff, and has become a patron of Manchester-based mine clearance charity, Mines Advisory Group (MAG).

Stuart Hughes
Stuart Hughes has become a patron of the Mines Advisory Group
He is writing a weekly diary on his recovery for BBC Wales News Online.

Stuart has been pictured with landmines similar to the one which caused his injuries to publicise MAG's campaign.

He said: "When I first saw it I found it very upsetting.

"To think that something so small and innocuous maimed me for life and killed a friend and colleague is an upsetting thing.

"I do not feel angry towards the people who laid the mines.

"I'm aware that they are just following orders and it is difficult to feel any bitterness towards them.

"But I do feel angry at those still involved in the trading of mines.

MAG needs people like Stuart to help champion our work
Lou McGrath, MAG
"As far as I am concerned they certainly do not follow the rules of war."

Stuart has said he was shocked to discover the true extent of the landmine problem in northern Iraq, in which dozens of people, mainly children, have been killed.

He added: "MAG was the only mine clearance organisation working in the region.

"As a landmine survivor myself I am proud to be able to support MAG's work in trying to rid northern Iraq of the scourge of these horrific weapons."

MAG employs almost 2,000 people world-wide with specialist teams in Lebanon, Angola, Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Iraq.

'Character'

MAG chairman Lou McGrath said: "We are overwhelmed by Stuart's support.

"It shows huge strength of character to be able to talk about his experiences while he is still coming to terms with them.

"We felt compelled to make him a patron and we were thrilled when he accepted and wanted to join our cause.

"MAG needs people like Stuart to help champion our work and help us raise desperately-needed funds."

Read Stuart Hughes' diary on BBC Wales News Online every week.


SEE ALSO:
Mine victim's road to recovery
15 May 03  |  Wales
Viewpoint: Dangers of war reporting
09 Apr 03  |  Middle East
Iraq journalist's leg amputated
08 Apr 03  |  Wales
BBC cameraman dies in Iraq
03 Apr 03  |  UK


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