dangerousground issue1 winter 2008
Flora A deminer since the age of 15
2009 Events Calendar Challenge yourself, raise money, save lives
Cluster Bombs What lies beneath?
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The Balkans Minefields close to home
Landmine Monitor report
Cluster Bombs What lies beneath
Gifts for Good
covered in this edition. There has been much positive reaction to proposed Cluster Munitions Ban, but as with the Mine Ban Treaty the usual suspects are unlikely to sign up. Will their behaviour be in the spirit of the ban? Will they reduce investment in these weapons? Or will it be business as usual? Only time will tell. Regardless of who signs and who doesn’t, one thing is for sure, many people around
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Read about Caroline Hawley’s experiences as BBC Foreign Correspondent, how visiting minefields in Kosovo affected the coaches from Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club and how their experience helped shape the Community Through Sport programme, and an interview with Rebecca Stephens - the first British woman to climb Mount Everest.
am delighted to welcome you to the first issue of Dangerous Ground, the new quarterly magazine from No More Landmines. The magazine will keep you informed about our work and provide you with up-to-date information about the countries where we operate. Our first issue is focused on the Balkans and specifically Kosovo, which is just over three hours flying time from the UK but still struggling to recover from years of war. In partnership with Mines Awareness Trust we have recently launched a three year project to clear the city of Peja, in the west of the country, from the threat of landmines and cluster bombs. Despite the Mine Ban Treaty and the pending Cluster Munitions Ban, many civilians around the world continue to live with the threat posed by landmines, abandoned rocket/jet fuels, mortars, chemical weapons and depleted uranium shells. Our aim over the coming months is to look at different ways that we can help reducing the risk and to help rebuild safer and independent communities. Sadly, too many people remain unaware aware of the continued harmful affect landmines and other unexploded ordnance continues to have. The danger of cluster bombs and the ongoing landmines crisis 11 years after the Mine Ban Treaty are
the world will continue to live with the threat of unexploded cluster bombs for many years to come. Therefore there is much still to do and during 2009 we will launch a number of exciting initiatives which will aid clearance programmes and keep our supporters well informed about the global mine crisis and other harmful military waste. As well as the magazine, the planned developments include a Community Through Sport project, deminers investment programme and DangerousGround TV. As you will be aware, charities rely on donations and the goodwill of the public to achieve these aims. No More Landmines is no different. In 2009 we have a range of different sporting events, so if you are thinking of doing a charity challenge, check out our Events Calendar on page 10. You may also wish to share your experiences of visiting mine-affected countries or taking part in one of our events by writing to us. We have had a great time putting this first edition together and have been overwhelmed by the support we have had throughout the process. I hope you enjoy reading this first edition as much as we enjoyed putting it together.
Neil Morrans Director
NEWS update Afghanistan mine free by 2013? Reports from conflict-affected areas in Southern Afghanistan indicate that anti-personnel mines are once again being used. It is believed that Taliban are making use of a landmine locally known as “Dragon”. A “Dragon” is the nickname for a type of weapon known internationally as an Explosively Formed Penetrator. It is directional and its impact causes heavy casualties. Since 1978, Afghanistan has faced foreign occupation and civil wars, which have left it one of the most heavily mineinfested countries in the world. Estimates place the number of mines planted throughout the country at between 5 and 10 million supplied by at least 38 different states. The UN demining programme says people in over 2,020 communities across Afghanistan still face the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) and it has the second highest rate of landmine accidents in the world. In the last 18 years over 150,000 Afghans have been killed or disabled by antipersonnel landmines, according to demining organisations. The ongoing landmine threat prevents many civilians from returning to their homeland. Many are so poor that they are prepared to risk everything by venturing into the minefields in search of scrap metal to make a living for themselves and their families. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Afghanistan should be free of landmines by 2013. “If there are no problems with the funding we will be able to meet the Ottawa Convention’s benchmark and make Afghanistan a mine-free country,” said Dr. Haider Reza the head of the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan. However the 2008 Landmine Monitor Report reveals that international funding for mine action has decreased since 2007. 4
Falklands. UK Requests 10 Year Extension to Ottawa Treaty Obligations At the end of November signatories of the Ottawa Convention met in Geneva to discuss the progress and obligations of the treaty. During the meeting 15 countries, including the UK, were believed to be requesting extensions to clearance deadlines and looking to achieve an additional 10 years to fulfil their obligations. The inability by a relatively wealthy country such as the UK to clear a comparatively small area sets a risky precedent, undermining the effectiveness of the entire treaty. John Duncan, Ambassador for Multilateral Arms Control & Disarmament, states in his Blog that the UK has made protection of civilians a priority in a territory where the terrain makes mine clearance difficult. But there is little question that the UK could have achieved its obligations if they had been addressed within a reasonable timeframe. The UK Government only completed its feasibility study in 2007 – 8 years after they became a signatory to the treaty. The ongoing delays may have a low impact on the civilians in the locality but impose a significantly higher risk on those who are
Condemnation for Russian and Georgian cluster bomb strikes On 7 August Georgian armed forces entered into the breakaway region of South Ossetia to assert Georgian governance of the region - a de facto (yet largely unrecognized) independent republic that has support from neighboring Russia. Russia responded on 8 August by sending its own military into Georgia. The first confirmed cluster bomb strike took place on 12 August 2008 in the town of Ruisi in the Kareli District of Georgia where it left three killed and five wounded. On the same day, a cluster strike in the centre of the town of Gori left at least eight civilians dead and dozens injured. Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was among the dead. The Dutch Foreign Ministry said a Russian cluster bomb killed him. But the Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on 23 October that the Netherlands has not presented enough evidence to warrant its conclusion. Russia has denied using cluster
bombs in the August war, but Human Rights Watch said both sides unleashed the widely denounced weapons. Georgia has acknowledged using ground-launched cluster munitions near the Roki Tunnel, which connects Russia with South Ossetia. Neither Georgia nor Russia was part of the Oslo Process launched in February 2007 to develop a new international treaty banning cluster munitions. Dutch journalist Stan Storimans
African Nations to sign the Cluster Munition Convention
tasked with the clearance. Mr Duncan comments that “As far as we know no-one has ever tried clearing mines laid in peat.” About 80 percent of these landmines are believed to be hidden beneath sandy beaches and peat that can shift a mine’s position and make detection and removal more difficult especially with passing time.
British banks accused of ‘funding cluster munitions’
In February 2007 a group of states, joined by United Nations Organisations, International Committee of the Red Cross, the Cluster Munitions Coalition and other humanitarian organisations, met in Oslo and agreed to conclude by 2008 a legally binding international instrument that will prohibit the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. In May this year in Dublin 107 States adopted the Cluster Munitions Convention, which opens for signature in Oslo on 3 December. In September at a conference in Kampala a total of 28 African countries affirmed their commitment to sign the convention by the end of the year. The countries were Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of Congo, DR Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Uganda, Togo and Zambia. At least nine African countries are contaminated to some degree with cluster munitions remnants. Additionally, abandoned stockpiles of cluster munitions have been found. Cluster bombs are weapons which are ground launched or air dropped and release a cargo of hundreds of smaller sub-munitions. Many sub-munitions used in the past had failed to detonate on impact and have become de facto antipersonnel mines that continue to maim and kill civilians for many years following the end of a conflict. According to a report by anti-poverty charity War on Want, high street banks such as Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax Bank of Scotland and Lloyds TSB are using public money to fund companies that sell arms used against civilians in wars across the world. It is also alleged that money from savings and investments is being used to fund companies that produce cluster bombs. The report indicates that GenCorp, Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon and Thales have all produced cluster munitions and that companies such as AXA, Prudential
and Legal & General have significant holdings in these arms companies. “People have seen the mess that the banks have made with customers’ money. But few know they are using our cash to fund arms companies. The British government must introduce regulation to stop banks making a killing from the arms trade.” said Ruth Tanner, Director of Campaigns and Policy at War on Want. According to the report, Barclays has the largest amount of money invested in the global arms trade, totalling £7.3 billion. HSBC comes in a distant second £450.6 million.
Colombia recruits rats and a cat to clear minefields Colombian police are training up rats and a cat to tackle the growing problem of landmines laid by the Marxist rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has been battling for 44 years to overthrow the government and impose a socialist regime. Rats have a sniffing capacity similar to dogs, but can search in less accessible sites and their training can last only two to three months and start when the rat is just a month old. The cat’s role is to act as “bodyguard” to protect the rats from predators such as other cats or iguanas. The project has a low budget of less than £30,000 a year. According to Vet Luisa Fernanda Mendez, who runs the
laboratory, once the rats find a mine they stand up on their hind legs alongside it, until an explosives expert comes up to either decommission or destroy it with a controlled explosion. Landmines are mainly used to protect camps, illicit crops and installations where drugs are produced. They have also been placed along corridors of strategic military importance. The rising and indiscriminate use of these devices is reflected in the number of new victims. According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, landmines and improvised devices kill or maim three people every day in Colombia. 5
The Balkans Minefields close to home
Flora Iberdemaj, a Kosovar deminer since the age of 15
uring the Kosovo conflict, both the Kosovo Liberation Army and Serbian forces used landmines extensively, often placing them in civilian areas, around homes or buildings which were used as military bases during the conflict. When peace negotiations fell apart in December 1998, NATO planned and implemented 11 weeks of air strikes against the Serbian forces, deploying thousands of cluster sub munitions, commonly known as bomblets, many of which failed to explode and became lethal unexploded ordnance (UXO). The end of the war on 3 June 1999 saw the return of over one million ethnic Albanian refugees to a region heavily mined, booby trapped and littered with cluster munitions. The mine action program in Kosovo was launched rapidly following the cessation of hostilities and a flood of NGOs came to the country under the auspices of the Kosovo Mine Action Coordination Center which generated high employment over the two years of the project. However in 2001 the United Nations (UN) declared that the threat of landmines and UXO had dropped to a level comparable to any other European country. This resulted in the withdrawal of the majority of the NGOs and the funding that had come with them. The clearance programme had however focussed on minefields mapped by Serb forces and key towns that had a high level of contamination. One deminer told No More Landmines that he tried to draw attention to minefields that he knew still existed but his warnings were not heeded. Just a couple of NGOs remained active on the ground and even now, 7 years after Kosovo was declared ‘mine free’, there are still 57 identified hazardous areas and a further 65 suspected hazardous areas in a country just half the size of Wales. Flora Iberdemaj was just 15 years old at the end of the conflict however her father had died during the war and, following the repatriation of her family, she urgently needed to find work to support her ailing mother and younger siblings. “I never worked before. I went to school. I was too young to work. After the war we did not have passports or identification cards: those were taken from us and
destroyed when we fled Kosovo. 90% of the population did not have ID when they returned back at the end of the war. I also did not have one so I lied about my age when I applied for a Deminer position with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). I told them I was 18 but instead I was 15 years old. Checks were impossible so I commenced the training. Only when people started to receive identification my employer found out. But by then I was qualified and just turned 18 so they decided to keep employing me”. 9 years have passed and Flora still loves her job. She now works for Mines Awareness Trust who are the implementing partner in a No More Landmines’ funded project in the town of Peja in western Kosovo. She is a dedicated and committed young woman with strong nerves and good will which she said are the main skills for doing this job, as well as being the only woman in a team of 9. She is exultant when she finds landmines or cluster bombs. “When this happens it gives my colleagues and I more motivation to look for more. We are like hunting dogs: if they do not catch the rabbits they go lazy! I still remember the first time I discover a mine: it was a fragmentation mine. At first I was scared and I asked myself what I am going to do now. Then my initial fear turned into a joy. I found it! I love my job. I am happy because I save myself and somebody else life. I don’t know what I am going to do when the clearance or the funds for clearance end”. Flora is concerned about the future. Funding for the demining teams is uncertain despite the obvious need for ongoing clearance and the UN rescinding Kosovo’s ‘mine-free’ status in 2005. If funding doesn’t come, the deminers face lengthy periods without work. Flora is the only wage earner in her household and in a country where unemployment is unofficially reported to be around 60% her work is essential to the survival of her family. “When I work on a project I never look for another job but during stand down time (normally in winter when weather conditions make clearance activities impossible) I look for work. In few occasions I worked as a Shop Assistant. I am happy as soon as a project starts
A BIT OF HISTORY As a result of the 1992-1995 conflict related to the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo have been heavily contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). These indiscriminate hidden weapons prevent people accessing land to farm, safe water, education for their children and peace of mind to recover from the horror of conflict. No More Landmines (NML) raises funds to free communities from the threat of unexploded weapons of war and has for years directed resources to this part of the world by funding humanitarian de-mining.
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovens which was formed in 1918 was renamed Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in 1963. The Federation consisted of six republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, 1998 and Slovenia. In addition, two autonomous provinces existed within the Republic of Serbia: Vojvodina and Kosovo. Belgrade was the federal capital.
In 1989 Slobodan Milosevic became president of the Serbian Republic and his call to create a Greater Serbia by keeping all Serbs in one state was one factor for the violent breakup of Yugoslavia along ethnic lines.
The disintegration of SFRY in the early 1990s, caused by the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and internal changes in the political and economic systems was followed by an outbreak of violence and aggression culminating in a series of conflicts also known as the “War in the Balkans”.
The war in Croatia started in 1991, and was caused by the rebellion of Serbian population in Croatia, their wish to secede and, along with other Serb-occupied territories in Croatia and BiH, unite with Serbia.
As the war eventually subsided in Croatia, in March 1992, BiH declared its independence from the SFRY. Soon after, a power struggle erupted between Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats. In April 1992 Serbia and Montenegro united and took the name of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY).
The Dayton Accords in 1995 ended the war in BiH. The accord stated that Bosnian Serbs received 49 percent of the original BiH,
while a Federation of the Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats received 51 percent. It was estimated that at least 100,000 people were killed and more than 2 million displaced during the 1992–95 war. An ethnic Albanian insurgency in Kosovo provoked a Serbian campaign that resulted in massacre and expulsion of ethnic Albanians living in this province. For generations Kosovo had been a territory disputed between Serbs and Albanians. Albanian nationalism increased in the 1980s leading to calls for Kosovo’s independence. But under Milosevic’s leadership, Serbia carried out repressive measures against Albanians and in 1998 fighting broke out between the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and the Serbian forces.
United Nations (UN) demand to end the hostilities and for the Serbians to withdraw was not complied with. After negotiation for peace fell apart in March 1999 NATO led 11 weeks air strikes against Serbian military targets. In June an armistice was finally reached and the UN established the UN Interim Administration for Kosovo reserving the issue of Kosovo’s final status for an unspecified date in the future.
The independence of Montenegro was approved by referendum. Serbia did not obstruct the ruling, confirming its own independence.
Kosovo declared itself independent from Serbia on 17 February 2008. In October some UN states backed Serbia in its judicial move on Kosovo, aimed at determining whether the secession was legal.
Croatia is expecting NATO membership in 2009 and admission to the European Union in 2011.
❯❯ and I can start the clearance searching for mines and cluster munitions. 99% of Deminers will have a problem after the clearance ends. The government does not care about us even for the police and fire brigade the government does not have a proper legislation covering those dangerous jobs. I would like to go abroad to work as a Deminer but I do not know how can I get there. At the moment I concentrate on doing the best job I can”. As well as the immediate problems the longer term is a concern as one day Kosovo really will be mine free. “I also would like to obtain another qualification. It is hard to enrol to a course in summer due to work commitment but winter would be easier because we do not work that late, and especially now that we do not work that far from home but sometimes it takes 3 hours to drive to the site plus 8 hours works. So maybe this year I will look for something.” However education is very expensive and not easily attainable in border towns like Peja and with an average deminer’s wage being just €400 per month during operational periods it is a struggle to save enough to fund education. “My colleagues and myself are extremely grateful to have work thanks to the funding of No More Landmines and the British public. We are looking forward to clearing as much as land as possible so our people can enjoy it without fear. Thank you again you are our Heroes!”. 8
Above: Flora Iberdemaj during a demining operation. Photo by Ben Remfrey, Mine Awareness Trust Right: Jovo Durdic works near a minefield at Gornje Krecane (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Remnants of War During the conflict, all parties involved laid mines against enemy forces to protect defensive positions on the lines of confrontation but also in areas of strategic importance such as railway lines, power stations and pipelines. After the war, mines were strewn along roads and scattered around homes to prevent refugees from returning. The majority of communities affected are rural, and poverty and mine-contamination are directly correlated. Similar to the threat posed by mines, cluster munitions, used extensively by NATO forces in the 1999 campaign, impact most on the financially marginalised elements of society who rely on scrap collecting, woodcutting and cultivation for their livelihood. Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) BiH is still one of the most mine-contaminated countries in Europe. According to Bosnia Herzegovina Mine Action Centre (BHMAC) the total contaminated area currently covers around 1755 km2 - or 3.42 % of total country size. In southern and central BiH, mines were often used randomly, with little record-keeping or mapping. According to BHMAC analysis, 500,000 mines remain in the ground. Bosnia, a State Party of the Mine Ban Treaty since March 1999, aims to rid the country of mines by 2009. The signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in 1995
marked the end of the conflict but unfortunately it did not mark an end to landmine casualties. Since 1996, 1576 people have been killed or injured by mines and unexploded ordnance in BiH. According to BHMAC there were 15 mine accidents in 2007 causing 18 injuries and 5 deaths. The majority of areas where accidents have happened were properly marked but the main reasons for people entering contaminated areas were firewood cutting, herding, hunting and collecting of metal. In 2007 NML donations supported the clearance of minefields located in 7 villages. Clearance of those areas has enabled the reconstruction of housing and other residential facilities, provided for safe return of residents and allowed for the free and safe movement of the local population. Furthermore the charity has also supported Survivor Assistance projects seeking to help landmine survivors be trained in new skills or start small businesses. Croatia In 2007 NML directed publicly donated funds to clear minefields, which includes local roads, paths and agricultural land, in the village of Kolarina and Madari near Sisak in Croatia. Demining has ensured the safety of the villagers who pass by the mined land on a daily basis and the cleared land has increased economic development and provides valuable agricultural resources to the community. According to the Croatian Mine Action Centre data the current status of Mine Suspected Areas in the Republic of Croatia amounts to 997 km2 and covers 12 counties including 112 towns contaminated with an estimated 110 000 mines and UXO. From 1998 until August 2008, 208 mine incidents were recorded of which 105 were fatal. The Republic of Croatia became a State Party on 1 March 1999 and aims to remove the mine danger by 2018. The Republic of Serbia Also a State Party of the Mine Ban Treaty since 2004, the Republic of Serbia is contaminated with antipersonnel and antivehicle mines as well as
UXO from previous wars. Unexploded cluster bomblets from the NATO air strikes in 1999 remain a significant problem. As of March 2007 cluster bomblets remained in six main areas of Serbia affecting approximately 23 km2. The mine/UXO contamination remaining in Serbia affects pastures, gardens, orchards, woods, agricultural land, much of it in already impoverished rural communities and in rivers and irrigation channels. The presence of submunitions in some of the countryâ€™s ski resorts and national parks affects tourism, wildlife and the environment. The target date to remove all landmines is 1 March 2014. Kosovo Landmines and UXO contaminated Kosovo during the conflict between Serbian forces and ethnic Albanian fighters in the late 1980s and in 1999 during the NATOâ€™s bombing campaign against Serb military units, which lasted 78 days. NATO dropped 1,392 cluster bombs containing 295,700 sub-munitions on some 333 target areas. It is still unclear how many American and UK manufactured sub-munitions failed to explode, but some estimates put the failure rate around 20% although unofficial figures put it as high as 50%. Those that failed to function and either lay on the surface or penetrated the softer grounds up to 50cm deep are in a highly sensitive state. In the last year, three cluster munition accidents have caused the deaths of two people and severe injuries to a further five adults and children. NML is working in partnership with Mines Awareness Trust to eradicate the cluster munition threat around the city of Peja. This project, which started on 13 October aims to improve the situation for communities living in and around the dangerous areas by releasing lands and eliminating the risk of death or injuries from cluster munitions. In the first 2 weeks 17500m2 have been already cleared and 8 BLU-97 cluster munitions were found.
The Balkans Minefields close to home
Left: Damage caused by cluster bombs strikes in Zatra (Kosovo)
Right: BLU-97. Cluster bombs used in Kosovo typically contained more than 200 BLU-97s. Many would fail to explode on impact; duds became de facto mines
Events Calendar 2009 Welcome to the No More Landmines Sporting Events Diary. The sports and events we have on offer for 2009 provide the widest choice of activities to give you a challenge and also support the work of our charity. We offer a full training package to ensure you are prepared for the challenge, we also provide fundraising support and No More Landmines branded kit for all event participants. Read the stories of Joceran and Ashleigh who have taken part in past events and how they prepared for the challenges. To find out how to register for an event call us on 020 7471 5582 or visit our website www.landmines.org.uk. We look forward to signing you up soon!
Etape Caledonia Tour of Kosovo London to Windso r Saigon to Angkor Wat cy
Sunday 17 May Jun (dates tbc) Sunday 30 Aug cle Wednesday 22 Oc t - Saturday 1 No Running v Wednesday 3 - Sa Paris Marathon turday 13 Dec Su nday 5 Apr London Maratho n Sunday 26 Apr Bupa 10k (Lond on) Sunday 25 May Stockholm Marat hon Sunday 30 May British 10k (Lond on) Sunday 12 Jul Run to the Beat Ha lf Marathon (Lond Triathlon on) Sunday 27 Se Blenheim Triathlon p Saturday 6 Jun Sunday 7 Jun London Triathlon Saturday 1 Aug Sunday 2 Aug Stockholm Triath lon Sunday 23 Aug Barcelona Triathlon Walking/Hikes We Oct (date tbc) st Sussex, JustW alk 2009 Trekking Saturday 9 May Machu Picchu Tre k Friday 22 May Family Great Wall Sunday 31 May of China Trek Saturday 18 - Su nday 26 Apr Saturday 9 - Sund ay 17 May Saturday 12 - Su nday 20 Sep Saturday 3 - Sund Mount Etna Trek ay 11 Oct Other Thursday 21 - Mo Horse riding in Mo nd ay 25 May ng oli a Overseas Thursday 18 - Su Namibia project nday 28 Jun challenges Friday 2 - Sunday Iceland Mountain 10 Oct Marathon Thursday 16 - Mo Kilimanjaro Chall nday 20 Jul enge (dates tbc) All dates corre ct at the time of printing
Our Runners’ stories London Triathlon, 9th August 2008 By Joceran Gichuke (above left) Having driven there on the Saturday to place my bike and helmet but more importantly to survey the terrain and scope the transition areas, it turned out to be a much needed couple of hours. I was able to visualize myself on race day and calmly practice what I’d be seeing and where I’d be going on the following day (these were all tips I’d received on the NML briefing). The swim was much slower than I anticipated, whilst the start and the initial half of the race were fine, the final part of the swim seemed much more awkward due to people getting tired and no longer swimming in straight lines. Nevertheless I got out without any major problems. Initial transition went OK and despite the very slippery floor I got onto the bike with no problems and was on my way. Despite all my attempts at fine tuning my gears prior to the event, my chain came off the front cogs just after the first 20km which cost me a good minute or so. My run plan was a 5km negative split. In any case the supporters were much appreciated and I got round in 2hours 30 10
minutes and 9 seconds, if only I hadn’t lost that minute or so on the chain! I must say thanks again for the information day back in July. It really was useful and I would strongly suggest future participants to attend. It is particularly good for a first timer. I have more than doubled the £400 of sponsorship and despite the size and scale of the event I really enjoyed the day and the challenge. Run to the Beat 5thOctober 2008 By Ashleigh Stitt (above right) I decided to sign up for the Run to the Beat Half Marathon as a challenge to myself. I wanted to run for a charity because I knew it would help my motivation for my training and make the whole build up for the day more meaningful. I chose to run for No More Landmines because of my passion for travel around Asia and I believe this cause has been forgotten by people living in comfort in the western world. In Laos and Cambodia it is heartbreaking to see children maimed and begging on the streets in the larger towns for money, as no money is spent by the
government in supporting these victims and they are forced to move from their rural villages to beg for food to survive. I started running in May then followed the NML/Full Potential 12 week half marathon program later on. My longest run I did two weeks before the race day and it was about 10 miles. I set up my Justgiving website about 3 weeks before the event. I was so surprised and happy with all the donations my friends and family gave. Each day I went on and had to raise my target a few times, as I had reached over £700 before race day! Updating my facebook status and emailing reminders got people donating, as did posting photos on facebook after the event. On race day I was nervous but excited too. My goal was just to finish without walking and be able to run the whole way. When I saw the 10 mile mark and the ‘almost there’ signs I smiled to myself and knew then that I could finish. I was stoked to finish in 2 hours and 14 minutes without stopping and walking. Next plan, who knows? Maybe The London Triathlon!
The Ottawa Treaty: Effectiveness and Obstacles - A 2008 Review Since 1999 the International Campaign to Ban Landmines has researched and reported on the situation of landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW*) in 120 countries and monitored compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty by States Parties.
ignificant progress has been made in removing the impact of landmines on civilians around the world. 156 states have signed up to the treaty and are no longer using landmines; 38 states have ceased production of landmines; and states have collectively destroyed more than 42 million stockpiled weapons. The use of landmines, especially by governments has become rare. Since May 2007 only Myanmar and Russia have continued to use antipersonnel landmines. Neither country has yet signed the Mine Ban Treaty. In May 2007 France, Malawi and Swaziland declared completion of mine clearance operations, bringing to 10 the total number of affected States Parties that have fulfilled their treaty obligations to clear all antipersonnel mines from mined areas under their jurisdiction or control. Recorded mine/ERW casualties declined by 9% in 2007 over the previous year, with 5,426 reported. Although data collection remains poor in many countries and it is estimated that victims significantly exceed those recorded there is a clear trend in a decrease of casualties since the treaty came into effect. In 2007, as in previous years, civilians made up the majority of casualties and nearly one third of civilian casualties were children. The accidents occur mostly in rural areas as people go about their daily livelihood activities. Mine/ERW risk education reached approximately 8.4 million people in 61 countries in 2007–2008, the highest number ever recorded by Landmine Monitor.
However, it was still deemed inadequate in nearly 30 countries, including in seven of the 10 with the most recorded casualties. Despite these successes there are still significant obstacles to eliminating the impact of landmines and ERW on civilians around the world. “A small group of countries is failing to meet some of their Mine Ban Treaty obligations,” said Jacqueline Hansen, Landmine Monitor’s Project Manager. “However, they are the exception. Support for the treaty continues to grow, sending a strong signal that the treaty has helped to stigmatize mine use worldwide.” Governments who join this treaty must stop the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of antipersonnel mines immediately. They must destroy all stockpiled antipersonnel mines within four years and clear all antipersonnel landmines in all mined areas under their jurisdiction or control within 10 years. According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2008 three States Parties, Greece, Turkey and Belarus, have failed to meet their 1 March 2008 deadline to destroy their combined 7.6 million stockpiles of landmines. A further 15 States Parties have requested more time in order to meet their mine clearance obligations. The United Kingdom is amongst those seeking an extension to their clearance deadline having failed to clear a single mined area in the Falklands in the last nine years. The use of mines and victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by nonstates armed groups was reported in nine countries, compared to eight countries in the previous reporting period. According to the report, there has been a sharp increase in levels of insurgent activity and use of antipersonnel mines and victim-activated IEDs in Afghanistan - one of the most minecontaminated countries in the world. The banned weapon continues to have a devastating effect on the country’s civilians
but also on national and international forces serving there. Of the 593 civilian victims in Afghanistan 48% were children, however there is also a significant impact on British troops - more than one tenth of UK combat fatalities since the start of the conflict have been attributed to mines or IEDs. In addition 23 international soldiers from Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States were killed or injured by these weapons in the last year. Landmine Monitor estimates that more than 160 million antipersonnel mines are stockpiled by states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. The vast majority of these stockpiles belong to just three states: China (estimated 110 million), Russia (estimated 24.5 million), and the US (10.4 million). Other states with very large stockpiles include Pakistan (estimated 6 million) and India (estimated 4-5 million). International support for mine action totalled US$430 million in 2007 with funds donated by 26 countries and the European Commission. This is a decrease of around $45 million (9.5%) compared to 2006 and was channelled to 70 recipient states and other areas. The top five recipients were, in order, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia, Sudan, and Lebanon. As consequences of reduced funding many states reported mine action programs delayed, scaled back, or cancelled. No More Landmines is deeply concerned to see a 10% drop in funding of mine action. More than ten years after the introduction of the Mine Ban Treaty it seems that this global crisis is dropping from public awareness, yet landmines and other unexploded weapons continue to pose a daily threat to millions of people in 75 of the world’s countries. More is still to be done. * ERW is ordnance left behind after a conflict including artillery shells, grenades, mortars, rockets, air-dropped bombs, and cluster munitions 11
Landmines are not the only lethal weapon that remain in the ground after conflicts. Other items such as cluster bomblets, grenades and rockets may stay in the ground having failed to explode or been abandoned in deserted military positions. Many of these weapons come to act as landmines when someone steps or trips on one or picks it up not knowing that it is dangerous.
Above: BLU-97 cluster munitions components Right: Ali Oussama Joumaa, a Lebanese cluster bomb victim. Photo by John Rodsted/Norwegian People's Aid Far Right: Soraj Ghulam Habib, an Afghan cluster bomb victim and now an active campaigner for a total ban
participating in the talks and it looks unlikely that they will become signatories to the treaty in the near future. At least 15 countries have used cluster munitions in recent history and 75 countries currently stockpile the weapon. Both Russia and Georgia used cluster munitions during the South Ossetia conflict. Russian aircraft dropped RBK-250 cluster bombs, each containing 30 submunitions, on the town of Ruisi in the Kareli district of Georgia on August 12, 2008. Three civilians were killed and five wounded in the attack. On the same day, a cluster strike in the centre of the town of Gori killed at least eight civilians and injured dozens. Dutch journalist Stan Storimans was among the dead. Georgia retaliated using their own cluster munitions on Russian troops. In more recent developments New Scientist Magazine claims that the US have plans to develop a new intelligent cluster bomb system. The US Department of Defense apparently revealed its requirements for the weapon in an online research request. In it, the air force asked American aerospace firms to submit proposals for a weapon that “engages multiple targets” using “guided smart submunitions”. They would deliver a swarm of bomblets that could chase a moving target for up to five minutes over 5km. Despite the claims of ‘smart’
Cluster Bombs: what lies beneath? C
luster bombs are weapons that open in mid-air releasing a cargo of dozens or hundreds of smaller submunitions or bomblets. Their large footprint which can cover an area the size of several football fields makes them an enormous risk to civilians during conflict particularly in an era when much warfare takes place in urbanised environments. In addition cluster munitions are renowned for having a high failure rate – in some models up to 40% of the bomblets have failed to explode on impact and come to act as de facto landmines, lying in the ground for years or even decades after a conflict is over. Despite obligations under international humanitarian law for governments to protect civilians during wartime, rejections to include cluster munitions in treaties such as the Convention on Conventional Weapons have left an unacceptable loophole which poses an immense risk to civilians. NGO’s and civil society have been working for many years to persuade governments to consider a treaty dealing specifically with this weapon. However it took Israel’s massive
use of cluster bombs in Lebanon in August 2006, resulting in more than 200 civilian casualties in the year following the ceasefire, to propel governments to attempt to create a legally-binding international instrument tackling the use of cluster munitions. Norway launched an initiative in February 2007, known as the Oslo Process. In May 2008 the text for an international treaty prohibiting cluster munitions was adopted by 107 countries. The countries that sign and ratify the treaty will no longer use, produce, stockpile or transfer cluster munitions or assist non states parties to do the same. The treaty also includes obligations to assist cluster munition victims and the clearance of the areas where those weapons remain unexploded. The Treaty will be opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December 2008. Despite this success some key countries including Israel, China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the United States have not been
systems, however, there is considerable doubt that sensors could reliably discriminate between civilian and military targets, and a risk that vehicles being traced could enter a civilian environment. Regarding the longer term impact of these more advanced systems, it has been proven that some models of existing cluster munitions which include self-destruct and self-deactivation functionalities still have a failure rate in excess of 10%. No More Landmines is a member of the The Cluster Munition Coalition a global network of 200 civil society organisations working in over 70 countries to end the harm caused by cluster munitions and lobbying governments to take the next steps in the treaty process and bring an end to needless suffering. Our charity also funds clearance of land and that will include any of this dangerous debris that is there, ensuring that individuals and communities have a safe environment in which to live.
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For a 12 year old boy like Mohammed spotting the bomblet is no game. While a trained de-miner is able to recognise an M42 submunition, to a child it could just be a toy.
Please send a donation of £100 or more to No More Landmines to help rid Lebanon of the unexploded cluster bomblets that litter civilian areas.
Urgent appeal to rid Lebanon of ‘UXO’
DONATE NOW 020 7471 5580
One million unexploded cluster ‘bomblets’ litter South Lebanon, primed and ready to blow an inquisitive child or unsuspecting adult to bits.
Landmines and other indiscriminate explosives have been used extensively in Lebanon since the beginning of the civil war in 1975. Because of this, unexploded weapons, including cluster bomblets, have littered the country long before the hostilities of 2006. The 34-day conflict between Israel and Hizbullah in 2006 claimed the lives of an estimated 1,000 civilians in Lebanon – about one third of whom were children. Tragically, the death and suffering did not end there for the Lebanese people.
“What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs.” Head of an Israeli Defence Force rocket unit posted in Lebanon during the war, quoted in Haaretz daily newspaper, Israel, 12 September 2006
In the last 72 hours of the conflict – after the ceasefire had been agreed on 11 August 2006 – the Israeli forces launched the majority of their remaining cluster munitions towards South Lebanon.
however, estimates that only 60% of those bombarded on Lebanon detonated. Today an estimated one million unexploded cluster bomblets fired by Israeli forces litter the villages of South Lebanon.
Cluster munitions are missiles that contain dozens of smaller bomblets. They are launched by artillery, rocket launchers and aircraft. The cluster munitions break open at low altitudes to release their merciless payload.
Already more than 250 adults and children have been killed, injured or maimed by unexploded cluster munitions, many while checking the damage to their homes or working on their land. No More Landmines funds specialists to comb through
The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre in South Lebanon,
thousands of acres of civilian areas – cities, towns and villages plagued by cluster bo mblets and other deadly unexploded ordnance – to make sure every cluster bomblet is destroyed before it can ruin another person’s life. Please send the greatest donation you can afford, today. Every £100 clears 100 square metres of land. Please act now. Every day that passes leaves children at risk of death or horrific and debilitating injuries. Thank you.
YES, I want to rid Lebanon of unexploded cluster bomblets I enclose a gift of:
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No More Landmines needs funds now to detect, deactivate and remove cluster bomblets and other deadly unexploded ordnance (UXO) from civilian areas. Please send your donation today so another child’s innocent game doesn’t end in tragedy.
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Q&A 10 Years have passed since the introduction of the Ottawa Convention banning the use, transfer, manufacture and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines. Has the Mine Ban Treaty made a difference? Ben Kluftinger, Surrey Quays
water, build new houses and live in a safer environment. Mine Awareness Trust (MAT) and the International Mine Action Training Centre (IMATC) jointly offer an internationally recognised and accredited training course in mine detection and clearance. For more info log on to www.minesawareness.org or contact MAT on 01481 233780
Yes! More than three quarters of the world’s nations have now signed the Mine Ban Treaty. Stockpiled landmines are being destroyed - over 42 million stockpiled weapons have been destroyed since the ban came into effect. Mine action programs are operating in countries all over the world and most importantly the number of new mine victims has dropped by over 50% in the last 10 years. This is thanks to the concerted efforts of those in the mine action community. Sadly however the landmine issue is quickly disappearing from government and media agendas prompting people to wrongly assume the problem has been resolved, this global crisis is still affecting millions of people in more than 70 countries around the world. Also our British soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan have to deal constantly with the threat posed by these weapons. In Afghanistan nearly 10% of non-accidental deaths of British troops have been attributed to landmines, most of which are believed to be a legacy of the Soviet conflict. However, despite the incredible achievements of the ban, up to one hundred million unexploded weapons are still believed to be littering the ground in some of the world‘s poorest countries, this is why it is so important to continue to raise awareness and raise funds for clearance to restore hope for a future free of fear. No More Landmines continues to work around the world to clear landmines as well as raising awareness of the problem in the UK. Why not visit our website to see some of our campaigns and find out how you could help.
I am aware that many charities run sponsored events to raise funds for their causes, what is No More Landmines organising in this area? Katie Robertson, Luton
I deeply admire the work of deminers. How do I become one? Tom Windsor, Dunstable Patience, discipline, common sense and manual dexterity are some of the most important skills needed to become deminers. Despite the danger they are facing every day, they all share the same job satisfaction of actually doing some good in clearing land in poverty-stricken areas for people to grow crops, collect 14
This year many of our supporters have participated in different sporting events, from marathons, to triathlons to the very popular Run to the Beat at the O2. No More Landmines was also the charity partner for the London to Windsor Bike Ride in August where riders of all fitness levels braved pouring rain to raise funds for the charity. For all of these events No More Landmines offer a full training package to ensure you are prepared for the challenge on the day, we also provide fundraising support and No More Landmines branded kit for all event participants. As well as organised events No More Landmines offers a great training and support package for participants in events of their choice, whether that is a national or international event or just a personal challenge which could be an opportunity to raise funds and save lives. Look up our fantastic events calendar for 2009 on page 10 of this issue. Taking part in one or more of these events is simple: just call us on 020 7471 5582 or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with all the information you need. It costs just £1 to clear 1 square metre of minefield so your support could make a huge difference to people living in mine affected communities. Get in touch.
Your comments and feedback are always welcome. Please email email@example.com or write to: The Editor No More Landmines, 4th Floor, Charles House, 375 Kensington High Street, London W14 8QH. The star letter wins a fantastic ALBA DAB/FM RADIO We reserve the right to edit letters as necessary.
What happens to your donation? £25 Funds a de-miner for a day Every day these brave men and women face extreme danger to save their communities from harm.
Looking for a Christmas gift with a difference? Don’t know what to give as a present to your friend, family or colleague? Give a Gift Certificate and they will know that in their name, lives and limbs have been saved. We can send the Gift Certificate and more information about No More Landmines - and the kind of projects the funds will be put towards - directly to you or to the person you specify. Visit our website www.landmines.org.uk for more information.
To make a one-off or regular donation to No More Landmines, please complete the donation form on the right or on our website www.landmines.org.uk. If you would prefer to make the payment by phone please call us on 020 7471 5580.
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£35 Buys ‘Danger Mines’ signs to protect a community from risk
£75 Provides a prosthetic limb and physiotherapy
£500 Clears an area the size of a football pitch
By indicating where land is dangerous it protects communities until their land can be cleared by deminers.
A prosthetic limb and the proper medical support can allow a landmine survivor to return to their normal life, going to school, working or caring for their family.
In many areas around the world there is no safe place for children to play but a donation of this size would clear an area in a village and give children back their safety.
£100 Supports a mine detection dog at work for a week
£1000 Fully equips 2 deminers
£50 Educates school children about the danger of landmines Mine risk education is key to the safety of children who may have been born long after conflicts are over and not know what a landmine looks like or what danger it can pose.
Mine detection dogs are key to sniffing out plastic-based landmines and other unexploded weapons to save communities around the world.
This would provide items such as a Flak Jacket, boots and protective headgear. In addition a first aid kit could save colleagues or civilians and the basic equipment for excavating a mine safely.
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Published on Dec 4, 2008
Dangerous Ground is the magazine of the UK charity, No More Landmines. No More Landmines helps and empowers communities around the world by...