In 2017, 87 per cent of people killed by landmine and booby trap accidents were civilians – . almost half of them children. In the Nuba Mountains, a contested territory between Sudan and Southern Sudan, Cap Anamur has been operating a hospital and several health stations for 20 years. Last week alone, two children were killed by a landmine and three others were injured. And this was not the first incident by a long stretch.
On April 4 2019, “International Day for Mine Awareness”, the United Nations drew attention to the continuing threat by landmines and unexploded ordnance. Landmines, cluster bombs and other explosive war remnants claim victims across the world every day. The exact number of planted landmines is not known. The United Nations estimates that about 110 million landmines were planted in more than 70 countries worldwide before anti-personnel mines were outlawed in 1997. Cap Anamur founder Rupert Neudeck said, “These weapons will only be truly eliminated when all types of mines have been abolished, outlawed, and made to disappear. Just as you cannot be half pregnant, you cannot eliminate a deadly weapon type by abolishing a quarter and not touching the other three quarters.”
„The goal has not been achieved“
The “Ottawa Convention” of 1997 abolished the use, production, storing and passing on of anti-personnel landmines. The treaty was signed by 164 countries. The Convention also stipulated the destruction of current stockpiles, the clearance of mine infested areas, and the provision of financial aid for mine victims.
“Even today mines are used in almost all conflict regions. In countries where we operate we often have to check if road travel in the whole region is safe. It is better than 20 years ago, but the targets of the Ottawa Convention have not been reached,” says Cap Anamur managing director Bernd Göken.
Cap Anamur’s long fight against mines
Fighting landmines has a long history with Cap Anamur. In Angola we ran a mine clearance project for several years. The team cleared thousands of landmines using refurbished tanks, mine detectors and painstaking manual work, and so saved many lives. Rupert Neudeck was sued by explosives company Dynamo Nobel in 1994, as he had called them a “criminal firm” in the context of arguing against the export of landmines to developing countries. The lawsuit was rejected in court.
In Sudan Cap Anamur’s aid workers are yet again confronted with the destructive power of mines. We regularly treat mine victims in the hospital in Lwere, and often they can no longer be helped. “Mines are often planted randomly, and are therefore particularly dangerous for civilians. In the Nuba Mountains we have even seen mines being planted around a water pump,” says Göken. As so often in wartime, the victims are men, women and children who have nothing to do with the military conflict. This is why the support given by Cap Anamur to the Nuba Mountain people is invaluable.