Landmines, cluster munitions, and unexploded bombs remain in the ground for decades after a conflict has ended. These explosive devices are a danger to lives and limbs; a hindrance to agriculture, enterprise, and education; and a barrier to freedom and liberty.
The UK has a proud history of helping to reduce the impact of landmines and other explosive remnants of war through funding and diplomatic efforts, and is one of the leading donors in mine action.
Here are a selection of stories that demonstrate what we have achieved with this support around the world.
“I am from Mahaxai and have been working for MAG for the last six years. I started as a technician and nine months ago I was promoted to deputy team leader with responsibility for safety. It is a good job and it is important work; I support my family and help the community by clearing the bombs. We must make the land safe. I grew up in fear of unexploded bombs, my parents always told me to be careful – I was always aware of the danger. We had to be careful when we lit a fire – that’s a common way to have an accident.
It is very hard work and can be difficult for women but we persevere and do the job well. When we find big aircraft bombs we often have to do a lot of digging to build protective works. Sometimes they are deep as well. The biggest bomb I have found was a 750lb one, and we dug two meters down to reach it, and then we had to carry it. It was hard work!
I have personally found more than 600 bombs, I am not sure, maybe more than that. The most the team has found was 84 in one day. That was a good day!
I want to learn, I want to do more. I want to step up to team leader. Wy work is my priority, I am not interested in marriage or children yet, for now I am married to MAG!
When we have done our job people feel safe and they are able to improve their farming and grow more, they can extend their paddy fields and their gardens because of us. They feel safe and can grow more food. This makes me proud and happy and gives me the energy to do my job.
I think the best job I did was clearing an area so that a school could be built. We found a lot of bombs on the land, 17 altogether I think - it wasn’t possible to build a school. But because we were able to clear the area, the government was able to build a school.
I want to thank MAG and MAG’s donors for giving me and the other women here in MAG the opportunity to help our community in the best way possible. Making the land safe. People are very grateful for what we do because it changes their lives forever.”
Klang is 25 and has been working for MAG for almost a year.
“I can support my family and help the community. I am very happy to work with MAG. My family are farmers, and my father also weaves and sells baskets. We grow cassava. I grew up with bombs. We would find them in the fields. I found out more about them when MAG came and gave us EORE in the village. I have a great opportunity to make a difference, I know that. After MAG clears land people are happy and they feel safer. I hope MAG will be able to continue its work helping people in Cambodia. I hope I can keep working with MAG and learn more skills.
This is an old village, and all the people are subsistence farmers. They have risked their lives farming the land every day for many years. There were 15 families here before the war. UXO has killed six people and injured three. The last accident was on 10 September 2007 when three people died.
6 hectares have been cleared and they found three unexploded items. Just from this one location, 4 families will directly benefit, and over 2,000 people will benefit."
Mrs Ozara, South Sudan
Mrs Ozara is a member of Amee B village who has benefitted from MAG’s land clearance activities. She works on this land collecting and burning wood to make charcoal, which she sells to pay for her ten children’s education.
“Before their [MAG’s] work in my village, we are unable to burn our charcoal due to the bombs that hinder our activity so much and it always make to fear because whenever I am burning even rubbish, I could hear terrible sounds of bombs which exploded in the fire.
Since MAG started removing these bombs out from my village, at least the fear from me has reduced a bit but I still encourage them to continue working in my village because there are still many bombs in my Boma of Amee”.
She can now burn charcoal safely on this land.
In May last year, MAG Zimbabwe conducted basic deminer training for 12 female students.
Danai was one of them, who is from a village close to where MAG works.
She said landmines in their community are threatening their livestock, limiting movement and access to fertile land. She said thousands of cattle had been killed by mines in her community, affecting community livelihoods.
When she realized that MAG Zimbabwe were looking for female deminers, she shared the information with her husband and decided to apply for the post. Her husband works as a fuel attendant in Harare, and she said his salary isn’t enough for household consumption, due to the ever-fluctuating economic situation in the country.
She told us about her experience:
"At first, I was hesitant, and I didn’t think it was possible for me to be a professional deminer but having received training from highly qualified personnel I feel confident and motivated to work as a deminer. I feel confident and eager to grow professionally in mine-action. I feel my life is going to change if I get the job, I will be able to send my kids to better school and assist my extended family."
Danai and the rest of her cohort are now trained to start demining.
In a challenging economic climate, we hope for continued support to ensure that the UK upholds its long-standing commitment to mine action.
In recent years this support has enabled mine action operators like MAG to remove more than 70,000 landmines and explosive remnants of war, release over 10,000 hectares of contaminated or suspected hazardous land, and increase awareness among hundreds of thousands of people through risk education.
You can support efforts to remove landmines and unexploded bombs today.