The last time Prince Harry visited the United States, his escapades in Las Vegas were tabloid fodder. But during his most recent visit, parties were not even on his radar. Prince Harry spent his 8 day tour bringing attention to the killer of nearly 20,000 victims a year, worldwide; unexploded landmines. One might assume those killed by landmines are soldiers, but in reality the majority of injuries are to children, women and the elderly.
The U.N. estimates that nearly 110 million landmines have been planted since the 1960’s, as a result of their low production costs. They can cost as little as $3 to produce, and many can be detonated with minimal pressure, which increases their potential risk to individuals.
There have been demining missions that have used metal detectors, armored vehicles, radar, dogs, rats, and even honey bees to locate unexploded ordinances. But due to the level of difficulty associated with locating landmines, they remain a significant risk to human life.
Prince Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, was a supporter of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which documented the agreement between 156 countries to stop producing antipersonnel landmines. But the United States and 11 other countries chose not to sign the treaty, and 3 of those countries were still producing landmines as late as 2009.
As long as countries are still producing and planting landmines, it will be impossible to eliminate the risk they pose. Efforts continue to be made to reduce the risk, but inevitably innocent lives will continue to be lost until we can get every country on board with a plan to end the rampant use of landmines.
– Dana Johnson
Photo: The Times