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Antipersonnel mines: who are the victims?
  1. S J Jeffrey
  1. Medical Division, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, Switzerland.


    The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has surgically treated 49 946 war wounded from all sides of the Afghan conflict. Two hospitals were established in Peshawar (1981) and Quetta (1983) on the Afghan border of Pakistan and inside Afghanistan in Kabul (1988). One quarter of all war wounded were injured as a result of antipersonnel mines. In 1980 a UN weapons convention adopted specific rules on the use of land mines, yet despite this, mines are still present and causing casualties long after the ceasefire. In the ICRC hospital Peshawar, 48% of all war wounded in the last year were injured as a result of mines. Non-combatants accounted for 34%, with the majority being children < 16 years old (25%); 78% of all mine injured people claimed to be returning refugees, of whom 37% had returned within three months. A significant increase in injuries occurred in children, from 14% in 1990 to 25% in 1992. For a country recovering from war, the presence of mines causes a serious environmental, social, and economic burden, and for the victims, continued tragedy not only for their families but also the whole country for many years to come.

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