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The global landmine crisis : hearing before a subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, United States Senate, One Hundred Third Congress, second session, special hearing online

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not achieve adequate humanitarian clearance.

Humanitarian demining requires that at least 99 per cent, and preferably 99.9 per
cent, of the mines be cleared. [1] But this does not mean that civilians who subse-
quently inhabit, farm or simply traverse land that has been demined are completely
safe from the risk of death or serious injury. In a field of 1,000 mines, between 10
and 15 will remain.

Proper clearance requires, first, that the mines be detected; and, second, that they
be neutralized or destroyed. This means time, expense and, inevitably, enormous
danger.

The safest and most effective way to locate mines requires a deminer to lie on
his stomach and prod the ground in front with a metal rod or a bayonet inserted
at a 30-degree angle. Metal detectors are often used but are not totally reliable.
They may get a reading on old tin cans or spent shells but fail to detect the latest
non-metallic mines. It is claimed that metal detectors have just reached the point
where they can reliably detect mines developed 20 years ago.

When a mine is detected, it is either destroyed on the spot or defused or detonated
elsewhere. This process is slow and frustrating. One person can clear only 20 to 50
square metres per day by hand. Deminers estimate that for every hour spent laying
a mine, 100 will be spent in lifting and disarming it. [2] The ratio is even greater
in the case of scatterable devices. United Nations demining expert Patrick Blagden
estimates that humanitarian demining using local deminers currently costs between
US$300 and US$1,000 per mine, depending on the situation.

Clearly, only the very richest countries can afford such expenditures. Rural com-
munities must either perform their own demining or run the risk of death or serious
injury. A doctor in Cambodia observed bitterlv that the countrv is being demined
"an arm and a leg at a time." Driving livestock over a minefield is one method, al-
though loss of livestock may be a major sacrifice. This method nevertheless is not



42

sufficiently reliable. Unless the international community is prepared to invest sub-
stantially in research and development of technologies to ease detection and neutral-
ization of mines, the future for many poor, heavily mined countries looks bleak.

NOTES

[1] Patrick Blagden, United Nations demining expert.

[2] Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, Land-mines: A Dead-
ly Legacy, 1993.

Chapter 9

response of the international community

The fact that the United Nations General Assembly passed four resolutions on
land-mines in 1993, reflecting international concern brought to the issue by non-gov-
ernmental and other international organizations, member States and various United
Nations agencies. [1] The first resolution, entitled Assistance in Mine Clearance,
calls for a strengthening of the contribution of the United Nations to demining ef-
forts. Following this resolution, the Secretary-General asked the United Nations De-
fiartment of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) to prepare a report on the problems of
and-mines. DHA has been nominated as the focal agency for the issue within the
United Nations system.

The second resolution, entitled General and Complete Disarmament: Moratorium
on the Export of Anti-personnel Land Mines, calls upon States to agree to a morato-
rium on tne export of anti-personnel land mines, which pose grave dangers to civil-
ian populations. Although this appears to be a comprehensive prohibition, some
States are assuming that the definition "land mines that pose grave dangers to civil-
ians" does not include anti-personnel mines fitted with a self-destruct or self-neu-
tralization mechanism.

The third resolution, entitled Protection of Children Affected by Armed Conflicts,
calls for the appointment of an expert by the Secretary-General to recommend meas-
ures to ensure the efiective protection of children from the indiscriminate use of all
weapons of war, especially anti-personnel mines, and to promote their physical and
psychological recovery and social reintegration. There will be a study to examine the
precise impact of anti-personnel mines on children.

The fourth resolution, entitled Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the
Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, refers to the proposed 1995 Review Con-
ference of the 1980 Inhumane Weapons Convention, which came into force in 1983.
The resolution calls for a maximum number of States to participate in the review
process. The Secretary-General is convening a group of government experts, with
provision for ICRC and possible NGO participation. The group will meet three times
in 1994 to consider proposed changes to the Convention for submission to the Re-
view Conference. UNlCEF hopes to participate as an observer.

The most vigorous campaigners against anti-personnel land-mines have undoubt-
edly been NGO's. Six prominent NGOs — Handicap International (France), Human
Rights Watch (United States), Medico International (Germany), Mines Advisory
Group (United Kingdom), Physicians for Human Rights (United States) and the
Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (United States)— came together in 1991
to form a steering committee. The committee has drawn up the overall strategy and
direction of the campaign, which now involves more than 80 NGO's world-wide.

The NGO's forming the steering committee have issued a joint call for an inter-
national ban on the use, production, stockpiling and sale, transfer or export of anti-
personnel mines. They have also called for the establishment of an international
fund, administered by the United Nations, to promote and finance land-mine aware-
ness, clearance and eradication programmes worldwide. The have asked that coun-
tries responsible for the production and dissemination of anti-personnel mines con-
tribute to this fund.

Prompted by the NGO campaign, several States acted on the issue at the national
political level before the forty-eighth session of the General Assembly in 1993. Bel-
gium enacted a moratorium on tne export of anti-personnel land-mines, and France
stated that it had observed a de facto moratorium since 1986. The Netherlands en-
acted controls on the export of anti-personnel land-mines, restricting trade to those
countries that are parties to the 1980 Convention. In November 1993, the United
States extended an existing one-year land-mine moratorium for three more years.

The ICRC has been very active in bringing the issue of anti-personnel land-mines
to the attention of governments and the general public. It convened a symposium
on anti-personnel mines in Montreux in April 1993. The symposium report is an im-
portant collection of papers dealing with some aspects of the issue.



43

Then in January 1994, the ICRC convened a meeting of military experts to dis-
cuss the military use of the anti-personnel land-mine. The experts outlined the rea-
sons why they were unwilling to forgo its use and discussed possible alternatives.
These experts' proposals will be set against the conclusions of a report on the socio-
economic impact of anti-personnel land-mines being prepared by the Vietnam Veter-
ans of America Foundation, which will attempt to quantify the costs to certain soci-
eties of their use.

Following the ICRC meeting, UNICEF brought together in Geneva representa-
tives of some of its National Committees, UNICEF Representatives in countries con-
fronted by land-mines, interested United Nations agencies and leading NGO's to
consider the problem of anti-personnel mines. The desire was strongly expressed for
much more effective regulation of land-mines internationally and for the allocation
of more resources to programmes dealing with the problem.

All concerned parties recognize the urgent need to resolve the problem at a politi-
cal and programme level. Land-mines have been described as "the most toxic pollu-
tion facing mankind."[2] The proliferation of these weapons must be stopped and ex-
isting mines must be eradicated. Taking up this challenge will require skill, imagi-
nation and, above all, courage.

NOTES

[1] United Nations General Assembly Resolutions, A/RES/48/7, A/RES/48/75K, A/
RES/48/157, and A/RES/48/79.

[2] United States Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with
Uncleared Land-mines, 1993.

Statement of P.M. Blagden

WHAT IS THE NATURE OF THE MINE PROBLEM?

Mines are used because they are cheap, effective, lethal and long-lasting; the
newer models, such as this Chinese T72A will probably stay active for over 50 years;
during its active life I reckon that it is more than 10 times more likely to go off
under a civilian than a soldier. In wars, mines are laid anywhere, with terrible ef-
fects; it is mainly the poor who are the victims; they have to live; they have to for-
age for food or fuel, they have got to raise crops, and tend their animals even when
they know they are in mined areas. For returning refugees, the problem is even
worse; they do not even know where the mines are.

WHAT IS THE SIZE OF THE MINE PROBLEM?

The U.S. State Department study, HIDDEN KILLERS, reckons that there are
some 85 million mines waiting for victims around the world, and we reckon that
there may be a further 10-20 million in stockpiles. The sad fact is that landmines
are growing in popularity with terrorists and warlords, and mines are still being
laid every day.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS IN HUMAN TERMS?

The American Red Cross reckons that about 1,250 people per month world-wide
are involved in mine accidents; I reckon that number may be a bit low; in countries
like Cambodia deaths are not recorded unless the victims die in hospital. I would
put the number at nearer 1,500 a month, or 18,000 a year; that means one death
or maiming every fifteen minutes of the daylight hours of every working day every
month every year. Some will not even make it out of the minefield; over half may
be women and children; those who survive will be physically, mentally, socially and
economically crippled for life.

WHAT ARE THE ECONOMIC EFFECTS?

At present, we reckon that it costs between $300 to $1,000 to clear each mine.
Take Cambodia, where there may be 4-5 million mines; with a population of 8 mil-
lion, and a Gross Domestic Product of about $120 per person per year, they will
have to spend many years GDP on mine clearance alone, which for a country dev-
astated by war is a crippling financial burden. Even this is not the whole picture;
you have to add the lack of revenue from agricultural land or industry, the social
costs of the maimed and hospitalized, and the loss of wage-earners. You have an
equivalent situation in Mozambique and Angola. Taken world-wide, I consider that
the economic impact of 85-100 million mines on these ravaged third-world countries



44

is a tragedy, and I do not think we have assessed the downstream effect on the rest
of the world yet.

WHAT IS BEING DONE?

A number of organizations such as the UN, the European Community and the US
Government are funding mine clearance at present; the UN probably has the most
mineclearers in the field (3,400 in four countries), but we can't boast much success —
last year, we lifted some 65-80,000 mines, or less than one thousandth of the world
total. If our reports from Yugoslavia and Cambodia are true, about IVi million
mines were laid in the same period. Ladies and gentlemen, we are losing the battle
at least thirty-fold. The UN hopes to almost double the numbers of mineclearers in
the field in the next couple of years, but even this will not scratch the surface of
the problem.

AT WHAT COST?

Mine clearing is expensive; the UN mine clearance program next year will cost
about 28 million dollars. There are human costs too, paid not only by the innocent
victims but by the mine clearers themselves; in Afghanistan, we killed or injured
67 operators last year, which meant one accident per 648 mines recovered. In Cam-
bodia, where the soil is easier, the ratio is one accident to every 2,300 mines. At
this rate, a lot of mineclearers are going to die unless we can find a better way of
clearing mines.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE?

In the short term, all we can do is to train as many mine clearers as we can, and
enlarge our current program, and the amount of money put into it. At the same
time, we have to drive the costs of mine clearance down, and the rate of mine clear-
ance up, but not at the expense of extra risk to the mine clearer. This will not hap-
pen until mine detection and clearance are done mechanically, with the clearers feet
and hands are well away from mines.

To stop losing the clearance war, we have got to increase our mine clearance capa-
bility by a factor of 50, by the end of this century. That will merely bring the in-
crease in mines to a halt. We need to double that capability bv 2005, and possible
even double it again 5 years later. This will not happen quickly. No reliable and
effective methods of mechanical detection and clearance have yet been evolved, be-
cause no one has put money into mine clearance research. This is partly because
few nations with major development expertise have ever suffered a large-scale mine
problem. Until enough money is put into Research and Development, the costs of
mine clearance in human and financial terms will remain high.

We must stop anti-personnel mines being used. We must continue to ask why the
so-called developed armies need them; we have got to make sure that they know
why, and they know what effects mines may have, and are not just slavishly follow-
ing what could be an outdated doctrine. We have also got to stop mines still being
laid, and I applaud the good work being done by Senator Leahy and this Congress,
and groups such as WAF and ICRC, to try to get this to happen. Unless we do
something definite, the 18,000 people per year currently killed or injured will con-
tinue to rise, not in a series of spectacular Hiroshimas, but one by one, steadily and
bloodily.

HOW CAN THE UNITED STATES HELP?

Ladies and gentlemen, yours is the richest and most technologically advanced na-
tion in the world, with the greatest political influence. I appeal to you to use all
these to attack the mine problem; firstly by continuing to fund demining programs,
secondly, by taking up the research and development challenge, to give us that 50-
fold increase in capability we need so badly, and thirdly to keep going on the advo-
cacy front.

This is not a burden that the US can or should shoulder alone, but we need your
skills to lead the nations of the world in evolving new mine clearance technology,
and to generate the political, moral and technical challenge to the frightening prob-
lem of landmines.



45

STATEMENTS OF:

KENNETH RUTHERFORD, RELIEF WORKER, INTERNATIONAL RES-
CUE COMMITTEE

FREDERICK DOWNS, DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AF-
FAIRS, DIVISION OF PROSTHETIC AND SENSORY AIDS

ROBERT MULLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, VIETNAM VETERANS OF
AMERICA FOUNDATION

KENNETH ANDERSON, DIRECTOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ARMS
PROJECT

Senator Leahy. In this next panel, we have two individuals, both
American citizens, who have been seriously injured by landmines.
We talk so much about how we, as U.S. citizens, are not faced with
this, and we are not, within our own borders. But, as Americans,
we travel worldwide for so many different reasons.

Our first witness, Ken Rutherford, comes from Boulder, CO.

Ken, I appreciate you and your fiancee coming here to be with
us today.

Last year. Ken was in Somalia, working for the International
Rescue Committee. He was not a combatant. He was helping peo-
ple in that country rebuild their own lives, until he lost his leg
from a landmine. After Ken, we are going to hear from Fred
Downs.

Fred was in the Army in Vietnam when he stepped on an Amer-
ican antipersonnel landmine — an American antipersonnel land-
mine — and lost his arm. He was awarded the Silver Star, four Pur-
ple Hearts, the Bronze Star for Valor, and the Vietnamese Gold
Cross of Gallantry. He is the Director of the Department of Veter-
ans Affairs, Division of Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Services. He
has also been a source of advice and support for my War Victims
Fund.

What I want to do is hear from these two witnesses. After they
finish, we will introduce the other two members of the pane!. Mr.
Muller and Mr. Anderson. And I would note that Mr. Rutherford
may have to leave because of a commitment at the White House.

So, Ken, we begin with you.

STATEMENT OF KEN RUTHERFORD

Mr. Rutherford. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

First, I would like to thank you for your support of Operation Re-
store Hope. It did just that and more. It not only restored the hope
of the Somali people, but it saved tens of thousands of lives. For
that, many will be eternally grateful. No other country in the
world's history has ever attempted such a humanitarian operation.

Second, I gladly accept your invitation to testify before you. I
hope that I can adequately do justice to the pain and suffering of
not only myself but tens of thousands around the world who are
victims of landmines.

Today, I will be expressing to you a real-life landmine nightmare.
I feel privileged to have this opportunity because I am an American
and I am alive. Unfortunately, four other Americans who hit land-
mines in Somalia are no longer with us.

You know the statistics and you know the facts. Please help us
make this world a better place for all of us.

I hope that the following story will prevent similar stories.



46

Last December 16, my life was changed forever. I was working
as a credit union training officer for the International Rescue Com-
mittee in the ghetto region of Somalia. We were giving out the only
credit loans in the country. To date, the International Rescue Com-
mittee is the only organization that is doing such a thing.

I was doing this primarily with USAID funds to fund income-
generating projects and labor-intensive projects to help returning
refugees get their life back together again.

On December 16, I was going out to visit some loan applicants
about 5 miles outside the city of Lugh. About 10 minutes into our
excuri^ion, the Land Rover filled up with dust and lurched forward.
I looked at my Somali colleague. His face was covered with dust,
and then down to my legs. My right foot was gone. At first, I won-
dered if the bone that I saw was mine or Duale, my IRC colleague.
It was mine.

My instinct was to get out of the Land Rover, but my lower legs
were not working. I grabbed the steering wheel to pull myself out
of the car, hitting the ground with my back. The radio fell out with
me.

Fortunately, before getting into the Land Rover at the credit
union, I had attached my radio to my belt clip and not kept it in
my day pack by my feet. If I had done that, I would not be here
before you today. It would have exploded along with my feet.

I radioed for help and I crawled a few feet back to the car, into
the driver's seat, and put my legs with my arms helping, on the
driver's seat. My Somali friend, Abdulahi, tied tourniquets to my
ankles. I waited for 15 to 20 minutes for help. Several times I tried
to put my right foot back on. It was hanging by stretched skin to-
ward my knee. I would attempt to do a partial situp so I could
reach up and touch my foot, and the foot kept on falling off

My left foot was still attached to my body. I lost the fourth toe
and I e top part of my foot. I could see the bones going to my toes.
My Somali staff stayed with me the whole time.

Up to this point, I never thought about dying. But actually I was
thinking about what a blessed life I have led. I have had great par-
ents and the best of friends. The realization of a dream that I did
things that I wanted to do. I am a product of some of the best
schools and a great home. Many in this world are not that fortu-
.late.

1 felt privileged to have the opportunity to give back what I have
received. What could be better than helping and assisting people
start their lives again after a civil war? I enjoyed having the oppor-
tunity to physically visit each project site and help them. I could
not believe that the International Rescue Committee was paying
me for the job I was doing.

However, soon I started to spit up some blood, and I thought, due
to possible internal injuries, I could be dying, that every breath
could be my last. I only had one regret — that I would not be able
to marry my fiancee of 2 months, that we would not have children,
who I believe and hope will make a positive contribution to this
world.

I resolved to try to pace my breathing and energy and mind until
I reached medical care. At the present time, I was near the border
of Somalia and Ethiopia.



47

Help arrived 15 or 20 minutes later. The first rescuer down the
ridge was my IRC colleague, Ken Turk. I asked him if he could put
my right foot back on. I meant it in a humorous way, because it
hurt too much to cry.

He and other Somalis picked me up and put me in the back of
the pickup truck, with my head on the lap of an Islamic fundamen-
talist soldier. In this area, UNISOM is not present. It is controlled
by the Islamic fundamentalists.

He held my head and his machine gun at the same time. My left
hand was held by another soldier sitting on the side of the pickup
truck. I remember thinking I could not believe that these Somali
fundamentalists were trying to save the life of an America and only
several hundred miles away, in Mogadishu, they were trying to kill
Americans. Either way, we were going over the same road that I
hit the landmine on to get me to the hospital.

In the local clinic, there was an American nurse, Tamera Mor-
gan, who had extensive trauma experience. She helped save my life
as well. She eventually gave me blood from her body to mine to
keep me alive.

About 30 minutes later, I was taken back out to the pickup truck
to the runway to wait for a relief plane. I told myself not to make
a face of agony, pain, fear, or suffering, but to present an appear-
ance that ever5rthing was OK, and no problems. I did not want
them to think that I was leaving by choice, but due to my medical
condition.

Before the accident, I wanted to prove that Americans and Soma-
lis could work productively and cooperatively together, to provide
many with a new start in life, and that the events of Mogadishu
were between Americans and Somalis and had no influence or
bearing on our work.

I believed that it was important for me and other international
relief workers, especially my American IRC colleagues, to show
that we were there to work shoulder to shoulder for the long term.

During the flight to Nairobi, I almost died. A French doctor also
gave me blood from his body to mine to keep me alive. In a Nairobi
hospital, I started begging to save my right leg, knowing very well
that it was gone, but I was really trying to protect my life. I figured
that if I let my right leg go easily, that I would wake up without
any legs.

I was twisting and struggling from the pain. They strapped me
down in a cross with my arms out, and they cut away my tee shirt.
That was my last memory. When I woke up, the doctor's hands
were holding down my shoulders, explaining that they had to cut
off my right leg. I asked him if I still had my left. When he said
yes, I started thanking him many times.

Before my departure, the nurse wheeled my Somali colleague,
Duale, in. It was the first time I had seen him since the accident.
We held hands, and then I left. I arrived in Geneva that night, De-
cember 17. I had three operations in the following 5 days.

On December 22, I was flown to Denver, CO, and I had three
more operations. Thus far, I had been in four hospitals in four
countries in 1 week. Within 12 days, I had seven operations and
an amputation in three different countries.



48

I was transferred to my fifth hospital in mid-February. I re-
mained as an inpatient for 3 weeks, and I have continued as an
outpatient in physical therapy ever since.

The doctors state that there is no question that I require further
operations. I broke, smashed, or lost 25 to 26 bones in my foot.
They would like to fill the gaps in and reset the bones. Addition-
ally, the plastic surgeon would like to reshape my foot, since it is
deformed. They say that I will have pain the rest of my life. To
which level, they do not know yet.

The good news is that I am able to keep a leg and that I will
have it for the rest of my life. The point of me being here in front
of you today is about the other landmine victims. I am the lucky
one. I am lucky to be an America, to have the best medical care,



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