zaterdag 12 mei 2012

Latest column by Clark Boyd on BBC

A simple device that is designed to clear some of the millions of landmines scattered around the world offers a lesson in thoughtful design and adaptation.

The global statistics on land mines and their effects make sobering reading. According to the United Nations, up to 110 million mines have been laid across more than 70 countries since the 1960s and that between 15,000 and 20,000 people die each year because of them. Many of the victims are civilians - children, women and the elderly - not soldiers. Thousands more are maimed. Moreover, mines are cheap.

The UN estimates that some cost as little as $3 to make and lay in the ground. Yet, removing them can cost more than 50 times that amount. And the removal is not without human cost either. The UN says that one mine clearance specialist is killed, and two injured, for every 5,000 mines cleared.

One of the worst affected countries is Afghanistan, with an estimated 10 million land mines contaminating more than 200 square miles of land. It is something that Massoud Hassani, who grew up in the northern part of Kabul, knows that all too well. "We lived out by the airport, and there's a big desert out there where all different militaries trained," Hassani tells me. "It was a real war zone. They left a lot of explosives, including land mines." read more on BBC



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