It’s International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action


Photo Credit — Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade / Wikimedia Commons / Creative Commons Attribution

For people around the world, landmines are a daily hazard, threatening lives and providing a lethal reminder of long-finished conflicts. The United Nations’ International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action is observed annually on April 4. This day aims to raise awareness about landmines and progress toward their eradication.

The UN estimates that 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed every year by landmines. Not only do landmines continue to kill and injure people going about their daily lives, but they also render large tracks of land useless and inhabitable.

Minefields have held communities across Africa back from rebuilding and recovering long after the guerilla warfare that saw colonial governments planting mines targeting African liberation fighters. Up to date, land suspected to contain landmines can not be farmed or used by livestock. Collecting firewood is hazardous, and footpaths offer only marginal protection for accessing water, clinics, and schools.

Demining is still an expensive task for communities in Africa although recent technologies have developed cheaper and faster solutions such as de-mining drones available on the market. However, mines are still being individually removed by mine disposal experts at an estimated cost of $300–1000 per mine.

A project based in the Netherlands, Mine Kafon, developed a mine-detecting drone. The Mine Kafon drone flies above potentially dangerous areas, generating a 3D map, and using a metal detector to pinpoint the location of mines. The drone can then place a detonator above the mines, before retreating to a safe distance.

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