Landmine Facts

For the first time in history more landmines are coming out of the ground than are going in – a testament to the success of mine action organizations like MLI and its supporters.

What is a Landmine Anyway?

Landmines are small, usually round devices designed to injure or kill people by an explosive blast or flying fragments. Most mines are made of plastic and contain about the same amount of metal as the spring in a ballpoint pen making metal detectors almost useless.

The development of the anti-tank mine was spurred by the use of battle tanks during World War I. Anti-personnel mines were developed to replace these larger mines that could easily be removed by enemy soldiers.

The development and use of the landmines we know today became a major military strategy between 1918 and 1939. At this time, mines were used in a controlled manner and specifically targeted at soldiers. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the random distribution of landmines began.

Today, there are still tens of millions of anti-personnel mines in the ground and stockpiled in over 60 countries.

How Are They Triggered?

It takes only a tiny amount of pressure to detonate a landmine.
They are indiscriminate killers that can’t tell the difference between the boot of a soldier and the barefoot of a child.

Do De-mining Programs Really Work?

Mine action operations have resulted in the destruction of more than 2.2 million antipersonnel mines, 250,000 anti-vehicle mines, and 17 million explosive remnants of war (ERW). At the same time there are new mines laid every single day.

What Are the Side-Effects of Landmines?

  • Landmine casualties deprive communities and families of income earners and treasured parents, siblings, spouses, and relatives.
  • According to the United Nations, approximately 2,000 people are killed or injured by landmines every month. 
  • Over half the landmine casualties are civilians. Among civilian casualties, more than 40% are children.
  • A mine costs between $3 and $30. The cost to neutralize a mine is between $300 and $1,000 and surgical care costs about $3,000 per amputee in developing countries.
  • Buried landmines can remain active for over 50 years.
  • Landmines have injured and killed thousands of U.S. and allied troops in every U.S. conflict since the 1900s, including the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Landmines set in motion a series of events that can lead to environmental damage in the form of soil degradation, deforestation, and the pollution of water resources.
  • The U.S. State Department estimates that fewer than one in four landmine amputees is fitted with a proper prosthesis.
  • Landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of arable land and infrastructure. They cut off access to markets, schools, work, and water.
  • Landmines hamper the repatriation of refugees and displaced people.
  • Landmines hinder reconstruction, new development, and the delivery of aid.
  • Landmine injuries put a great burden on a country’s whole health system. People hurt by mines need more antibiotics and more dressings, and they need to stay in the hospital longer than most other patients.
  • Female child casualties are often under reported. In some countries, having a disability is seen as a stigma that needs to be hidden, especially among girls.

Is the Problem Over?

No, there are still tens of millions of landmines contaminating more than 60 countries. We need to continue our work, so please help support MLI’s programs.

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