THE ISSUES

Wars and conflicts erupt, subside and end. But they leave behind millions of landmines, unexploded bombs and unsecure arms. These pose an every-day danger for decades and disrupt the lives of communities for generations.


LANDMINES AND UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE (UXO)

Landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) kill and injure thousands of men, women and children every year.

Residents of a village in DRC walk past a mine sign

These residents of Dongo village in the Democratic Republic of Congo live close to a minefield being cleared by MAG.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG


Mines and UXO are indiscriminate killers. They don’t obey peace accords or ceasefire agreements. They can lie in the ground for decades after a conflict is over, killing or maiming those trying to re-establish their lives and livelihoods.

They also trap people in danger and poverty, preventing them from using their land. People affected by conflict have no choice but to live with this daily risk.

Imagine living in constant fear. Fear for your life and for your children. Under-18s are most vulnerable, accounting for nearly half of those killed or injured by mines and UXO. 

These landmines and unexploded bombs are not being cleared fast enough for the millions of people who still live around them, in fear, every day. This issue can be dealt with more quickly. It has to be dealt with more quickly. We need to do more, faster, to free people from fear, to free them to rebuild their lives.

Thanks to our donors and supporters, MAG makes land safe, freeing people from danger and fear. More than this, MAG’s work in some of the world’s poorest communities makes it possible for children to go to school in safety, gives better access to health services, and empowers people to make a better living.

Crucially, it enables other organisations to safely deliver humanitarian aid and development projects.

What is a landmine?

A landmine is defined by the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty as "a munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person or a vehicle".

Some landmines kill, some landmines maim. All are indiscriminate.

Landmines are generally divided into two main groups – anti-personnel and anti-vehicle – and have four main component parts: (1) an outer structure made of either plastic, wood, metal, Bakelite, rubber or even glass; (2) a fuse or firing mechanism; (3) a detonator; and (4) high explosives.

Some contain huge amounts of shrapnel, designed to fire out to great distances, while others have been made with a minimal amount of metal and are therefore difficult to detect using metal detectors.

Valmara landmine in Iraq

A Valmara 69 (V69) anti-personnel landmine in Iraq. If the spikes are touched, the V69 will jump up to a metre high and shoot out around one thousand steel fragments. Anyone within 25 metres will be killed. Anyone within 100 metres will be badly injured.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG

What is unexploded ordnance, or UXO?

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) means explosive weapons – such as bombs, rockets, missiles, mortars, projectiles and grenades – that did not explode when they were used and still pose a risk of detonation.

As with landmines, UXO can remain lethal for several decades after it was used.

One example of UXO is cluster bombs, or cluster munitions, which are weapons that can be dropped from the air by planes or fired from the ground. They open in mid-air and release numerous (sometimes hundreds) explosive bomblets – 'submunitions' – over a wide area.

Most of these bomblets explode immediately, but many don't, killing and maiming civilians long after a conflict has ended.


NEW CONFLICTS

Risk education in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

The ongoing violence in Iraq is placing communities at an increased risk from explosive weapons. Risk education sessions like this are one way in which MAG is helping.

Photo: Sean Sutton/MAG

New conflicts are also putting even more people at risk. People are forced from their homes to take refuge in unfamiliar areas and unfamiliar circumstances. They face unknown dangers from landmines and unexploded bombs.

The ongoing crisis in Syria, violence in Iraq and instability in South Sudan mean the need to help vulnerable people is as big as ever.

The families who’ve fled their homes in fear for their lives find themselves in danger from explosive weapons left over from old conflicts in neighbouring regions and countries. They need our help.

At MAG, we believe that whenever and wherever wars happen, ordinary people should not be the ones who pay the price.


THE ILLEGAL ARMS TRADE

Illicit – or black market – weapons and munitions sustain conflict and fear, and fuel armed violence against women, girls, boys and men, including sexual violence. They are also a key driver of fragility and prevent the stability that enables poverty reduction and socio-economic growth.

Through our arms management and destruction programmes, MAG helps to tackle the illegal arms trade.


MUNITIONS EXPLOSIONS

The aftermath of the Brazzaville explosion

The aftermath of the explosion in the Republic of Congo that killed 282 people and injured thousands.


Unplanned explosions at munitions sites (UEMS) can create humanitarian emergencies. UEMS can cause immediate loss of life, injury and disability as well as destroying homes, schools and other civilian infrastructure.

Dangerous and unstable munitions can be scattered over large distances, often kilometres away.

Such incidents can have numerous primary causes. These range from fires, lightning strikes, spontaneous ignition of unstable propellant and the incorrect storage of hazard division classes and hazard compatibility groups (in other words, munition types).

A key aim of MAG's arms management and destruction work is to reduce the risk of devastating explosions from happening, and reduce the impact on civilians and civilian infrastructure of any explosions that occur.


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