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An anti-personnel mine is an explosive device designed to maim or kill the person who triggers it. Mines are indiscriminate in terms of target and time. They go on killing and maiming-soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children alike-decades after the fighting has ended.
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An anti-personnel mine is “a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons.” These hidden, indiscriminate weapons cannot tell the difference between the tread of a soldier or a child. They continue to kill and maim long after wars have ended.

According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), more than 350 different kinds of anti-personnel mines have been produced by more than 50 countries. AP mines act to injure or kill victims by both the explosive blast and the fragmentary metal debris projected upon detonation.

Generally speaking there are two types of AP mines: blast mines and fragmentation mines. Placed in or on the ground or scattered from the air, blast AP mines are often less than 10 centimetres in diameter and are activated by the weight of a foot. They are the most common type of AP mines. One of the most insidious mines is the "butterfly" mine a blast mine scattered from planes that looks like a toy but which explodes when played with.

Fragmentation mines are generally activated by a trip wire and project shards of metal at incredible speeds toward the victim.

In addition, "bounding mines" are fragmentation mines that jump into the air before exploding, spraying fragments across a large area.

Anti-personnel mines came into widespread use during the Second World War. They were intended to stop the theft of anti-tank mines. Anti-tank mines were intended to destroy battle tanks, but they could be easily seen by foot soldiers, who stole them and implanted them in their own minefields. Anti-tank mines were originally unexploded artillery shells with their fuses exposed. The first anti-personnel mines had the capacity to explode with the weight of a foot. During the Cold War, a number of technological advances were made and the use of these weapons spread.

Used by military forces throughout the world, the low cost and easy deployment of landmines have made them a weapon of choice in the world's poorest countries. In countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Bosnia, the threat of landmines is a terror ordinary people live with every day.

In some situations, various types of AP mines are used together to create an elaborate labyrinth in a mine field, designed to trick even the most skilled demining crews. This may include piling mines on top of each other underground and placing different mines close to each other so that by diffusing one, other nearby mines are detonated.

Anti-personnel mines are not indispensable military tools. According to a 1996 Red Cross study, military experts examining 26 wars where anti-personnel mines were used concluded that mines did not lead to a strategic advantage in war. The reality is that mines do more to create fear and cause suffering in civilian populations than they do to deter the movement of soldiers. According to the United Nations, landmines are at least 10 times more likely to kill or injure a civilian after a conflict than a combatant during hostilities. Once mines have been laid, they are completely indiscriminate in their action.  Unless cleared, they continue to have the potential to kill and maim long after the actual fighting has ceased.

In addition, AP mines are often used by warring parties to purposefully induce terror in villages and communities. This is a far stretch from the stated defense uses of AP mines and it affects civilians already caught in the crossfire of surrounding battles.

The major producers of anti-personnel landmines in the last 25 years have included the United States, Italy, the former Soviet Union, Sweden, Vietnam, Germany, Austria, the former Yugoslavia, France, China and the United Kingdom. The most commonly found mines around the world were from China, Italy and the former Soviet Union.

According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 14 countries had not banned the production of anti-personnel landmines. These were Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iraq, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, United States and Vietnam. Some of these countries have not actually produced AP mines in recent years, but refuse to ban production officially.

The ICBL also points out that with the exception of the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, the most mine affected countries in the world received all their mines from sources outside of their borders. While it is difficult to track mine shipments, there are no major AP mine exporters anymore, and Iraq remains the only country that has not made an official statement that they no longer export AP mines.

Canada ceased production of anti-personnel mines in 1992. It had only produced one type of anti-personnel mine, commonly known as the "Elsie" mine a plastic-bodied, cone shaped mine that cost approximately $40 to purchase. The Elsie anti-personnel mine was produced by SNC-Industrial Technologies Inc, a subsidiary of the SNC-Lavalin group. Prior to 1986, the Elsie anti-personnel mine was produced by the crown-owned Canadian Arsenals Ltd, which was then sold to the SNC-Lavalin group. The last export of anti-personnel mines from Canada was completed in 1987 with a shipment to Kuwait.

The widespread use of anti-personnel mines has created a humanitarian crisis of global proportions. Attempts have been made to estimate the number of AP mines in the ground around the world through reporting procedures by countries under the Ottawa Convention. However, it is now apparent that the number of mines in the ground is not an accurate measurement of the landmine problem.

Instead, the most significant measurement of landmine consequences is the amount of high-priority land that contains mines. This is land that is arable, socially and / or economically valuable or essential for transportation to the local residents. The risk of death or injury inhibits use of the land. Whether a field has 2 mines or 10,000 mines means it cannot be used by a community. Since any attempt to determine the number of mines laid around the world will only be an estimate, mine action groups now focus attention on the humanitarian crisis posed by landmines.

The real seriousness of the landmine problem is reflected in the numbers people affected by landmines, especially new victims estimated to be in the tens of thousands each year. Landmines cause huge barriers to social and economic development in some of the world’s poorest countries.

It is estimated that since 1975, there have been more than one million landmine casualties most of them civilians, many of them children. Where they do not kill immediately, landmines severely maim their victims, causing trauma, lifelong pain and often social stigma. World wide there are some 250,000 landmine amputees. Survivors face terrible physical, psychological and socio-economic difficulties.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, there are three types of injury anti-personnel mine injury amongst survivors. The most severe injury results from stepping on a buried anti-personnel mine. This usually results in the amputation of the foot or leg with severe injury of the other leg, genitalia and arms.

The second type of injury occurs when a victim triggers a fragmentation mine. If death is not instant, there are wounds similar to those from any other fragmentation device and can affect any part of the body.

The last type of anti-personnel landmine injury is caused by accidental detonation while handling a mine generally seen among mine-clearers, those planting mines or curious children who pick up or play with mines. This involves severe wounds to the hands and face.

Surgeons with the International Committee of the Red Cross estimate that up to half of all AP mine victims die on site within minutes of a blast and that only 28 per cent of AP mine casualties arrive at a hospital within six hours of the explosion.

Due to their small size and the relative closeness of their vital organs to the mine blast, children are more prone to death and serious injury from landmines than adults. They are more likely than adults to die immediately or shortly after being injured, because they are not able to survive the blood loss during the time it takes to get them to a hospital for emergency treatment.

The suffering of landmine victims is compounded by the lack of medical and transportation infrastructure in most countries that have an AP mine problem. For example, even if the victims survive the blast and make the long, arduous journey to a medical centre, the physical injuries are usually far greater, the emotional trauma much deeper, and the economic prospects significantly bleaker than for an adult.

AP mine injuries for children are most difficult for surgeons to treat because of the need for constant blood transfusions, antibiotics, anaesthetics, X-ray films and follow up medical attention. Children may require ongoing amputations for prosthesis fittings on growing limbs. A 10-year-old amputee may require at least 25 prostheses during his/her lifetime. Artificial limbs cost about $125 each beyond the means of many victims, where average wages are only $10 to $15 a month.

For successful rehabilitation to occur, there must be extensive rehabilitation programming including job, and independent living skills training, at a minimum. In most underdeveloped countries, this is simply not available to children. For example, UNICEF estimates that only 19-20 per cent of disabled children in El Salvador receive rehabilitation therapy. The rest are forced to fend for themselves and often have to steal or beg to survive.



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We support Mines Action Canada

Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations that came together in 1994. It is affiliated with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). The coalition's primary concern is the human and socio-economic impact of landmines. As such, the MAC coalition is committed to a complete ban on the use, production, stockpiling and trade of anti-personnel mines and other weapons which function like anti-personnel mines, including cluster bombs and anti-vehicle/anti-tank mines with anti-personnel effect. The coalition is also committed to ensuring the needs and aspirations of people physically, socially and economically affected by mines are met.

As a member of the ICBL, the MAC coalition supports the general orientation of guidelines and policies adopted by the ICBL and its various Working Groups. MAC coalition activities in support of its objectives include research, public education, policy development, and dialogue with government, private citizens and other parties both nationally and internationally.

As part of its work, nationally and internationally, MAC initiated this site. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to duplicate other sites containing information about landmines, but it does strive to be universal in scope and application. The centerpiece of the site is a map of the world, broken down into the main geographic regions. Those accessing the site will be able to click on any region of the world to obtain country specific information. Relevant reports, resolutions and other documentation are also available in the documents database: