Recent heavy rains in the Balkans caused terrible flooding and landslides, dislodging landmines from marked mine fields and pushing them on to once safe ground. The floods also destroyed warning signs that had marked mine fields, heightening the risk of accidents.
More than 1 million landmines were planted during the civil war in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995. More than 8,000 people have been killed or injured by land mines and other explosive remnants of war since that time. Clearance teams, including Handicap International deminers, removed the majority of those mines. Up until a few days ago, most of the remaining 120,000 landmines lay within carefully marked mine fields. Now, however, people living in the affected communities do not know which areas are safe and which are not.
“One mine exploded near Cerika on Monday 19 May, but fortunately no one was hurt,” says Gilles Delecourt, Handicap International’s Director of Mine Action. "There are 30 different types of mines in Bosnia. Some of them can cause damage over a radius of more than 325 feet on explosion. Despite the mud and water, these mines remain fully active."
What's more, "the landmines carried along by the currents have now been deposited in unknown locations, threatening communities which are unaware of the dangers posed by these weapons," he adds. "Any area affected by flooding is potentially unsafe.”
Faced with this dramatic situation, Handicap International has dispatched a team of two experts to Bosnia to assess people’s needs on site and evaluate the possibility of stepping up the association’s intervention.
Handicap International worked in Bosnia clearing mines for 15 years before transferring its successful program and skilled deminers to the national demining operators in 2012.
Did you know that the U.S. is the only developed country in the Western Hemisphere that has yet to join the Mine Ban Treaty? Please, take one small action today to support the fight against landmines and sign our petition urging president Obama to submit the Treaty to the Senate for ratification.