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Vanessa Braun

YOU are walking along the road with a friend. It is an ordinary day. The sun is shining a little. It might rain later. From the corner of your eye, you spot something intriguing...
John Rodsted

Landmines and cluster bombs are weapons that have been used in conflicts around the world for decades. During a conflict and long after it is over, ordinary people live with a terrible threat. Landmines are explosive traps hidden under or on the ground. They can be set off by direct pressure, tripwires or remote control. A landmine causes unspeakable destruction with a blast reaching up to 50 metres. It damages limbs and causes injuries like blindness, burns, and shrapnel wounds.

A YM-1 antipersonnel mine.

John Rodsted

Cluster bombs are dropped from the air or fired from the ground. Each bomb opens in mid-air and scatters between a dozen and several hundred smaller bomblets over a wide area, sometimes the size of several football pitches. When bomblets explode, they fire hundreds of fragments of metal that travel at the speed of a bullet. Anybody nearby, military or civilian, is very likely to be killed or seriously injured.

A BLU-97 cluster bomblet.

We keep on killing civilians years after the end of a conflict. Up to 40% of cluster bomblets fail to explode on impact.

Every two hours, someone is killed or maimed by a landmine or cluster bomb.

Mayang Adnin

Ursula Meissner/Handicap International

A BLU-63 cluster bomblet similar to the one found by Dam.

An object is glinting in the sun. You are very curious and want to pick it up. Your friend says No, dont touch it!. But you want to know and go closer.


Handicap International

One sunny August day, three children left their village in Laos to collect honey. They followed the path through dense bushes, the scent of leaves and earth around them. On the way, seven-year-old Dam came across a strange object the size of a tennis ball. It was a BLU-63 bomblet, one of thousands that litter the entire country of Laos. Dam was curious and he decided to investigate. He picked up the object and threw it at a plank of wood. His two friends were frightened and ran away. With Dams second throw, the bomblet exploded. Dam had deep wounds all over his body. His left leg was broken and he had internal injuries. Luckily Dam survived and, after many weeks in hospital, he made a full recovery.

Dam (centre, wearing a blue t-shirt with red stripes) with friends from his village.

I am an interesting shape and colour. Children want to pick me up and play with me.

One third of the victims of cluster bombs are children.

Mayang Adnin

Gaspard Durosselle/Handicap International



Kanha is a young girl from a small village in Cambodia. One day she was playing in the sunshine with her father, just outside their home. Suddenly there was a powerful blast and a thunderous roar. A hidden cluster bomb exploded. Kanhas little body was thrown into the air and she landed in the dust, sprawled like a broken doll. Her father was killed instantly. Kanha lost consciousness. Miraculously, her mother survived the blast and rushed to her daughters side. Her quick thinking to get help in the immediate aftermath of the blast saved Kanhas life. A long bedside vigil followed the accident until Kanhas condition slowly stabilised. But her right leg was amputated at the femur and she had trouble recovering from the terrible psychological shock. This bomb robbed her of her leg and her father.

Kanha with her artificial leg at our rehabilitation centre in Kampong Cham, Cambodia.

BANG! An explosion rocks the ground and a plume of dirty smoke fills the sky. You are lying on your back. Your friend is screaming. Everything goes black.

Up to 70% of the victims of landmines and cluster bombs are civilians.

We are indiscriminate - we dont care who we kill or maim.

Tim Dirven/Panos-Laos 2008

For amputees, rehabilitation means learning to walk or use an arm again, practising simple everyday activities such as getting dressed, climbing stairs, or brushing teeth. In a rehabilitation centre, technicians produce and fit artificial limbs and walking aids. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists and social workers also help people recover. Every single amputee has different needs and receives individual care. Unfortunately in many countries affected by landmines and cluster bombs, health systems are inadequate. Survivors often find they cannot access rehabilitation care and end up isolated and excluded from their communities.

Taking a mould to make an artificial arm at our rehabilitation centre in Laos.



Sokun works at Handicap Internationals rehabilitation centre in Siem Reap, Cambodia. In our country many people are amputees or have a disability. Here in Cambodia, people with disabilities receive virtually no help. Losing a leg almost automatically means losing all income because most people work in the fields. So allowing them to have a leg once more gives them the opportunity to work again and therefore support their whole family.
Sokun making an artificial leg, Cambodia.

R. Van Sluis

You wake up in hospital. The next few weeks pass in a painful blur. Then you visit a rehabilitation centre to have a new limb fitted. You realise you took a lot for granted before. How will you cope?

In developing countries an artificial leg costs around 30 the price of a pair of shoes in the UK. This is unaffordable for someone living in poverty, who may survive on less than 1 a day.

Mayang Adnin

Worldwide 67 million children are missing out on school. Many are discriminated against because of their disability.

You are getting used to your new leg. It is a new beginning and you want to go back to school. But will your teacher treat you the same? Will your friends still like you?
Nicolas Axelrod/Handicap International

Learning to walk at one of our rehabilitation centres in Cambodia.

People with disabilities are often discriminated against. They get excluded from things that other people take for granted: going to school, earning a living, getting married or taking part in sports.

Sadio from Senegal was a teenager when she lost her lower right leg to a landmine. Watching her friends playing football reminds her of everything she is missing.

Laurent Emmanuel/

Ana from Mozambique was collecting water for the washing up when she trod on a landmine. After several months of rehabilitation, Ana returned home full of apprehension about how everyone would treat her. But, thanks to the support of her family, she explains Im better now, I can play with my friends again and I work hard at school. Touched by her experience, Ana now wants to be a nurse.

P. Iquiesse Bitunga/Handicap International

Mayang Adnin

Your family is struggling to get by. Your treatment was very expensive and all the family savings have been spent. You have no way to earn any money.
John Vink/Magnum Photos-Cambodia 2008

Khtoeub Veb from Cambodia lost his leg after he stepped on a landmine whilst cutting bamboo. He spent many years on crutches and found it hard to earn money for his family. Ever since I was fitted with an artificial leg, I have my hands free to work again, he explains.

Khtoeub Veb at work in his nephews rice field.

Chantava from Laos was left in poverty after her accident. My husband and I had taken our children to work in the fields. He took the buffalo and went to plough the ground near our house. My three children and I went looking for bamboo shoots to eat. I was using a hoe, when I hit a bomblet hidden beneath the ground. It blew up immediately. My right leg was so badly fractured that the doctor had to amputate it. I struggled with the aftermath of my accident. We had to sell six of our buffalo. We had to pay five million Kip (400) for my treatment, which included money that my relatives gave us. My living conditions changed. Not being able to move about with such ease had a big impact on how well I could care for my children. It was a very difficult time.

Alison Locke/CMC

Chantava at home with her son.

We are still hiding in half of all the fields in Laos, forty years after the conflict ended.

A field contaminated by landmines near Battambang, Cambodia.


Gaspard Durosselle/Handicap International

We are a hidden danger in about 80 countries worldwide.

Unexploded bombs are still around. Even going to the market or to school is dangerous. Everyone knows, but people get used to it and forget. Guess what? More accidents happen.

Savy from Cambodia had an accident with a landmine when she was just seven years old. Her father explains what happened. When we arrived here, we knew it was a dangerous area, but we didnt have any choice. The ground where we built our house seemed normal. We couldnt have imagined it was riddled with landmines. Even so, we were very careful. I didnt want the children to go far from the house. I was afraid that theyd stray from the marked paths. Over time, perhaps I became less scared and anyway I couldnt stop my children from living a normal life. One day, Savy was playing there, just five metres from the house. There was a huge explosion. The blast threw Savy away from the house and she was covered with earth and blood. Luckily Savy survived, but she lost a leg. Following the accident, the ground around our house was cleared and we found almost forty landmines. Its a miracle that nobody else was wounded or killed.

N. Moindrot/Handicap International

Savy after her accident on the path outside her house.

Nobody knows how many landmines and cluster bombs have been used but it is likely to be many millions worldwide.

Mayang Adnin

In conflicts and wars, civilians often have to flee to escape the fighting. When they return home, an unfamiliar danger is waiting for them, but not everyone realises the risks from landmines and cluster bombs.



Murshed, 25, is helping Handicap International make people aware of the risks from unexploded weapons in Libya. Risk education is a simple and very effective way of saving lives. We organise sessions for groups of all ages and raise the awareness of as many people as possible. We also spread our message further through radio, TV, billboards and leaflets. You can clearly see a change in attitudes before and after the session. I want the suffering to stop because weve really suffered enough. We cannot continue to live under the threat of an enemy that kills and maims those we love: we have to take action against these weapons.
Handicap International

A Scout teaching children how to recognise unexploded bombs, Libya.

You are very worried. Could something terrible happen to someone you know? You learn about the dangers of unexploded bombs and what to do if you find one. You hope desperately that everyone listens.

We claim two thirds of our victims while they are trying to earn a living, collecting water or firewood, fishing or growing food.
A leaflet from Angola warning about dangerous situations and showing what to do if you find a bomb.

Handicap International


Elizabeth Sambou is a deminer who works for Handicap International in Casamance, Senegal. It is very hot in Casamance. The gear is heavy and we work kneeling down. Ive never really been frightened. You just need to do what you are told and follow the safety rules. Safety is the most important thing. You have to respect the procedures when moving about and making your way forward.

J-J. Bernard/Handicap International

Elizabeth in her demining gear preparing to start work.

Deminers are courageous men and women trained to clear landmines and other unexploded weapons. Demining is a long and painstaking task requiring patience and concentration. First the deminers survey the land and mark the areas affected. They then find and clear the bombs, either by hand using simple tools, or sometimes using machines. Afterwards the bombs are destroyed and the community is given back its land.

I really like this job. Im really keen on the idea of getting rid of these landmines. These people have suffered for years. Im really proud that after the land is cleared, people can return to their normal lives, free from fear. Mine clearance can change peoples lives.

J-J. Bernard/Handicap International

Elizabeth using a probe tool to locate a landmine buried in the ground.

You are very angry there are so many landmines and cluster bombs strewn across your country. You know the damage they cause. You are so grateful when you hear about deminers.

Depending on the environment, a deminer can clear between 50m2 and 250m2 of land per week. At most, this is about the size of a tennis court.
Mayang Adnin

Gal Turine/VU-Ethiopia 2008

Aynalem reading a magazine at home in Mekele, Ethiopia.



Aynalem is from Ethiopia. She is a member of the Ban Advocates, a group of survivors from around the world who campaign against cluster bombs with the support of Handicap International.
John Rodsted/CMC

I was injured during cluster bomb strikes when I was only seven. Two strikes bombed my school and its surroundings. I lost consciousness. My younger brother and my two older sisters were injured by cluster bombs this same day. I was the most seriously injured. I lost one of my legs, and now I have an artificial limb below my knee. I had to have several prostheses as my legs grew. I was able to have access to them in my home town, Mekele. However, many victims do not have rehabilitation centres nearby. I worked hard to be able to study business administration. To find decent work, I had to move far away from my home, travelling for many hours by bus. It became much harder to go to the rehabilitation centre once I moved. I am still not able to properly earn a living like so many other victims. Cluster munition victims, like me, want the same opportunities as everyone to support our families, work, study and be a part of life in our communities.

At an international meeting, Aynalem gave a speech asking governments to ban cluster bombs and support the victims.

You watch brave people take action and realise you can do something too. You want to help the many other survivors also struggling. You learn how to speak up for your rights.

Worldwide it is estimated that there are at least 500,000 survivors of accidents from landmines and other unexploded weapons.
Mayang Adnin

You attend international meetings and speak to government ministers and officials from all around the world. You and many other survivors tell them your stories.

Alison Locke/CMC

Soraj sitting in the shade, Afghanistan.

Landmines were banned in 1997 and cluster bombs were banned in 2008 by two landmark international treaties.

Soraj is a Ban Advocate from Herat province in Afghanistan. I was 10 when I lost both my legs. I now speak out for the thousands of innocent victims from my country; people who have lost parts of their bodies and suffered due to mines, cluster bombs, and the destruction of war. When I speak at conferences, I dont ask for my legs back no one can do that but I ask to be given a chance to get my self-confidence back and for the means to study. I dont want my children to face the same problems as me. As a victim of cluster munitions, I address people who still produce, use and transfer these harmful weapons: I beg you, please stop cluster munitions.

Some countries want to keep us. They havent signed the treaties and they still produce and use us.

Please agree upon a total ban on cluster munitions and join the courageous States that have already signed this treaty. Lets work to achieve PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, not just for me, but for the whole of humanity.

Alongside ordinary people from around the world, you convince governments to ban landmines and cluster bombs. But some countries refuse. You keep up the pressure to get rid of these weapons for good!
UR s YO it Now to . turn action take ath ch p Whi you wille next? tak
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Handicap International is an independent international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work alongside disabled and vulnerable people in over 60 countries worldwide.
This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Handicap International and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

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