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Landmines Should be Banned Internationally

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"When heading towards the well, I heard a thunder-like sound and saw a flash of fire before my eyes. It was only after a few hours when I opened my eyes and I found myself at the hospital and I saw my mom standing and crying beside my bed. Only then I found that I had fallen victim to a mine and that I had lost both of my legs. I was a student of class four at Mir Ahamd Shaheed School in Dehmazang, but I will no longer be able to continue my education as I cannot walk to school."

-Mohammad Sarwar, a 10-year old boy living in


Afghanistan
Even though landmines are a very good way of defending a wide area for very little money in war, the way they take innocent peoples’ lives is so brutal that they should be banned. They kill and maim people even after the war has long ended, and it is very expensive to remove them. As well as hurting people, landmines also destroy farms.

Although they are meant only for war, landmines can remain active for over 50 years after it is planted. Thus, some landmine casualties are the results of a war which had already ended a long time ago. When landmines buried in the ground are stepped on, the pressure triggers an explosion. The result can be the loss of limbs, or even death. According to the UN, 2,000 people are involved in landmine accidents every month. Around 800 of them will die, and 1,200 will be maimed. This is an unacceptably high number of human casualties. Because of these high statistics, many people are afraid of going outside. Children don’t go to school, and families starve because it is unsafe to go out and work. Kids need to run around and have fun, but with landmines hiding in the ground, kids can’t be that carefree. Whether it is psychologically or physically, landmines destroy people’s lives forever. When we put ourselves in the shoes of people who are vulnerable to these weapons of destruction, we can see how horrifying these landmines truly are, and how important it is to internationally ban them.
Landmines can transform acres of thriving farmland into a deserted and barren land. Before landmines were planted in the ground, the land was used for farming or served as a home for animals. However, after they are buried in the ground, the soil cannot even be stepped on, much less to be used as farmland. When farmers are unable to farm, no food can be produced. How can they make a living? How are people supposed to rebuild their villages and their way of life after the war is over? Landmines are a double edged sword. They are great to defend land in war, but after the fighting is over, land is wasted, lives are still in danger, and people loose their means of living.

Furthermore, many landmines are planted in poor, war-torn countries, but it is very expensive to hire a professional to remove them. The most common mines are cheap; costing between $3 and $30, but it can cost 50 times more to remove each one. In 1996 the UN Secretary General estimated that it would cost more than $50 billion to remove all landmines throughout the world. However, in the same year, less than $150 million was available for removing mines. Clearing mines is also a very dangerous work. On average, for every 5,000 mines that are removed, one person is killed and two are injured. About 100,000 mines are removed each year, at this rate it would take 1,100 years to clear all the landmines in the world (assuming that no new mines are laid). But the problem is that there are new landmines being laid every year. In fact, new landmines are even harder to remove because they are made out of plastic and are impossible to detect with a metal detector. The longer we wait, they become more dangerous and difficult to dispose of. The only way to eventually get rid of all of them is to stop the production of new ones, and to secure enough funding to remove as many as we can each year. Needless to say, this will take a lot of control and power.

America is recognized as a very powerful country in both its economic and military might. It spends more money than all the other countries to fund its army and is seen as a kind of global “police”. We should use this power for a good cause. If the US were to take the initiative to ban landmines internationally, many other countries would follow its example. Although some people believe that nations who want to use landmines will do so regardless if the USA or any other nation prohibits them, I believe that such nations will eventually yield. There will certainly be some nations that seek to ignore the ban, but as it gains importance and is fixed in the world’s view as a solid rule that should never be broken, such nations will eventually see eye to eye, especially if the diplomatic and moral might of the United States is seen to be behind the ban. Nevertheless, the usage of landmines will have been vastly reduced by all those nations that will obey the law.
War is cruel. Even if we cannot stop it, we should at least make it less painful afterwards. Mohammad has lost his legs and education, and countless others have lost their lives. What could we possibly lose by helping them?




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