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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Sep 2016

One of the many abandoned buildings, which remain inaccessible due to the threat of unexploded ordnance and leftover mines.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Sep 2016

Kostya Zarubin sits inside his grandparents’ home, where he grew up - two floors below his best friend’s Edik’s home. The boys were 15 years-old when they climbed a slag heap to “look at the war,” oblivious to the danger.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
25 Sep 2016

Slag heaps - residue of mine shaft excavations, pile high near Lysychansk, Luhansk region. Popular with local kids, these heaps served as observation posts for artillery spotters and military personnel during the war.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
24 Sep 2016

Pavel Albulov shows the deep scar in the center of his forehead, left behind after a booby-trap went off after opening the door to a house. He went inside to feed the animals left behind by the fleeing neighbours.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
24 Sep 2016

Billboard in Slavyansk, Donetsk Region, warns of dangers posed by mines and unexploded ordnance. Similar posters can be found onboard trains - both of which have only appeared recently.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
24 Sep 2016

Children walk from school near the village of Troitske, Luhansk Region. The village has been at the forefront of trenchline fighting for the past year, and have subsequently seen heavy artillery damage and continuing threat of unexploded ordnance, mines and booby-traps.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
24 Sep 2016

Pavel’s wife stands defiantly in front of her home. “We have food, electricity, We don’t need anything, I can’t even eat properly. We just want peace.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
24 Sep 2016

‘Mines’ etched into the front gate. The owner was injured when returning home by a booby-trap left behind by the soldiers.

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Benas Gerdziunas - Ukraine - The Last...
Donetsk and Luhansk, Ukraine
By Benas Gerdziunas
24 Sep 2016

“I pushed my bike first through the gate, that’s when the booby-trap went off,” he explains. “I walked home one and half kilometer, with blood pouring down. My wife gave a glass of samagon [homemade spirit], and I walked further to get medical help.”

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Faces of Somalia
Mogadishu, Somalia
By Noe Falk Nielsen
29 Apr 2015

A collection of pictures that shows many faces of Somali people, and how religion and culture affects them in their daily life. 

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Bosnia Landmines 04
Grebnice
By Michael Biach
28 Apr 2015

Jana Spionjak's husband Joso was killed in a landmine incident on Sept. 1st, 2014 while working in a wooden area that used to be cleared.

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2015 bosnia landmine-04 08
Grebnice
By Michael Biach
28 Apr 2015

Grebnice. An old mine-warning sign. Two decades after the end of the war up to 120,000 mines are still buried along the former frontlines.

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Bosnia Landmines 12
Srnice
By Michael Biach
28 Apr 2015

Miro Ljubojevic was injured in a explosion of two landmines. He suffered severe injuries and has an amputation of the left leg below the knee plus an amputation of the right foot.

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2015 bosnia landmine-10 01
Doboj
By Michael Biach
28 Apr 2015

Since 1992 more than 8.350 people have been killed or injured by landmines or UXO's. Ljubomir Blagojevic, 56, was injured in 1992 in a landmine incident while serving in the Army of Republika Srpska.

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Bosnia Landmines 23
Grebnice
By Michael Biach
28 Apr 2015

The village of Grebnice suffered from the 2014 flooding. Areas that had been identified as safe needed to be marked again.

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Bosnia Landmines 24
Doboj
By Michael Biach
28 Apr 2015

In Doboj, war veterans and landmine victims are playing volleyball in a club that Landmine Survivors Initiative employee Zoran Panic has founded.

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Bosnia Landmines 03
Donji Rahic
By Michael Biach
27 Apr 2015

In Donji Rahic, agricultural areas still scattered with landmines next to cleared land where habitants can already work.

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Bosnia Landmines 09
Donji Rahic
By Michael Biach
27 Apr 2015

A MV-4 mine-clearance vehicle in the field in Donji Rahic.

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2015 bosnia landmine-03 11
Donji Rahic
By Michael Biach
27 Apr 2015

Donji Rahić. Deminers from Norwegian People's Aid with their mine detection dogs.

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Bosnia Landmines 02
Donji Rahic
By Michael Biach
27 Apr 2015

De-miners prepare the remote controlled MV-4 mine-clearance vehicle called "El Mino" in Donji Rahic.

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Bosnia Landmines 07
Sarajevo
By Michael Biach
26 Apr 2015

PROM-1. Most deadly and common landmine in Bosnia.

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Bosnia Landmines 13
Novo Selo
By Michael Biach
26 Apr 2015

Beside landmines, thousands of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and cluster munition threaten the people of Bosnia & Herzegovina.

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Bosnia Landmines 18
Novo Selo
By Michael Biach
26 Apr 2015

A de-miner from Norwegian People's Aid next to a located mine.

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Bosnia Landmines 25
Bosanski Brod
By Michael Biach
26 Apr 2015

Mine Risk Training in a primary school in Bosanski Brod, and organized by the Norwegian People's Aid.

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Bosnia Landmines 05
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

Todor Jankovic‡ accidently released a deadly PROM-1 mine. Luckily the landmine was a dud and didn't kill him.

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Bosnia Landmines 06
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

Todor Jankovic‡ accidentally released a deadly PROM-1 mine. Luckily the landmine was a dud and didn't kill him.

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Bosnia Landmines 14
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

Team members from the Norwegian People's Aid (NPA) are getting ready for mine clearance operations.

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Bosnia Landmines 15
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

A dog is searching for landmines in an area of Skipovac Donji.

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Bosnia Landmines 16
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

A dog is searching for landmines near Skipovac Donji.

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Bosnia Landmines 17
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

Only a few have returned and are living in the village as most of the agricultural area is still mined.

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Bosnia Landmines 21
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

The little village of Skipovac Donji is scattered with landmines. An abandoned school is visible in the background by the main road.

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Bosnia Landmines 22
Skipovac Donji
By Michael Biach
25 Apr 2015

A dog is searching for landmines in Skipovac Donji.

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Peshmerga Units Clear Explosives Laid...
Kirkuk, Makhmour
By Jeffry Ruigendijk
08 Feb 2015

The amount of IEDs left by the Islamic State is staggering. 'Not normal', says the mayor of Makhmour. According to Kurdish government and Peshmerga officials, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines planted by Islamic State militants are the biggest cause of casualties for Peshmerga forces. ISIS has adopted the tactic of heavily seeding all of the territory it withdraws from with the deadly devices, with the intent of slowing down Peshmerga advances. Some IEDs are also intentionally left in fields and homes to target civilians according to Kurdish officials. We go to the frontlines with a Peshmerga engineer team specialized in dismantling the devices, and speak to a farmer who is affected by Islamic State IEDs. The mayor of the city of Makhmour, whose community is still dealing with getting rid of massive amounts of IEDs ISIS left in August, also weighs in on the subject.

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Lebanese Landmine Survivors Football ...
Sidon
By Andreanewilliams
15 Sep 2014

A football team for victims of landmines, called The Lebanese Landmine Survivors Team, was launched in 2001 by the The Lebanese Welfare Association for the Handicapped (LWAH), to bring survivors together once a week to play football and help cope with their injuries.

Today the group is still developing and the players play with their prosthetic limbs on. They even play against teams from other associations who do not suffer handicaps. The team is comprised of 15 players and aims to gather as many young people as possible who suffer war injuries and help them develop psychologically and socially. The team is the only one of its kind in Lebanon and the Arab World. Even on a world level, there aren’t any teams that play while wearing prosthetic limbs.

Today Lebanon is relatively peaceful, but a 15-year civil war and conflicts with neighboring countries, such as Israel and Syria, have left unexploded land mines and cluster munitions across swathes of the tiny country. Between 1975-2012 these unexploded devices killed 903 people and injured a further 2,780. The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), a British NGO that works to clear unexploded ordinances in Lebanon, says that the number of accidents has recently increased.
The Lebanese Mine Action Centre (LMAC) aims to clear all cluster munitions by 2016 and almost all land mines by 2020. However, it is likely that these deadlines will not be met. When the land mines were laid, mostly during Lebanon’s civil war, no record of the locations was kept. It is impossible to know how many of the 4m cluster bombs that Israel fired on Lebanon during the 2006 war, failed to explode and still remain a danger.

Translation

(Man, Arabic): Dr. Bachir Abdul Hak, coach of the Lebanese survivor team:

(02:10) We had the idea of establishing this team in the Lebanese welfare association for the handicapped in the 1998, but we did not execute it until the year of 2000. We believe that all young men who suffer from a certain handicap need the physical and the athletic exercise to help them build their bodies, improve their physical and psychological health, and get out of their isolation. that is how the idea started, to provide a service that would help them socially and psychologically. (02:52)

(03:32) The team became like a family to me, we have been together for 14 years,all the children you see in the filed were born with us. i care a lot about this team and I give it all my time, and effort because it deserves the attention from us to be able to succeed. (05:52)

(Man, English) Ali Srour, player, 31 year old civil servant, from Aita al-Chaab, South of Lebanon. he lost his leg in a hunting trip near his village in 2001:

(04:04) (04:34)

(04:55) (05:25)

(05:34) (05:56)

(06:00) (06:26)

(06:31) (06:53)

(Woman, English) Habiba Aoun, Coordinator of Land-mine research center (Balamand University)

(07:21) (09:15)

(09:24) (09:43)

(09:53) (10:49)

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War Relics Continue to Plague Vietnam
Quang Tri, Vietnam
By Sean Kimmons
02 Jun 2014

QUANG TRI PROVINCE, Vietnam – A demining team carefully removes a pile of rusty explosives – each one still able to kill or maim – from a quiet farm field where fierce fighting once raged during the Vietnam War.

Shortly after the lethal mortars and grenade launcher rounds were taken away, an anxious farmer in her 50s marched over to the de-mining team and expressed her frustration to everyone around.

“I’m afraid of more bombs but I need to work,” she said. “I have to risk death just to earn money.”

The farmer, Van Thi Nga, stumbled across the relics while growing vegetables, the main source of income in her village. Her village sits along the war’s former demarcation zone and is strewn with hidden explosives.

However, there was no time for sympathy as the busy team frankly told her to report other unexploded ordinance (UXO) if she sees more. The bomb disposal experts then did a brief sweep with a metal detector and left to their next call of duty: an unstable bomb in a nearby rice paddy.

De-mining teams in Vietnam face an epic task where roughly 20 percent of the country is littered with UXO. UXO includes everything from bombs, landmines, munitions, and other explosives.

This central Vietnamese province is the worst-hit region, with more than 80 percent of the land still peppered with deadly devices after nearly 350,000 tons of explosives were used.

In total, almost four times more firepower was deployed on Vietnam during the Vietnam War than in all of World War II.

Around 10 percent of the explosives used in the Vietnam War are believed to not have detonated. As a result, up to 800,000 tons of UXO remain in the communist state. That’s even beyond the 635,000 tons of bombs that US forces dropped in the entire Korean War.

“The contamination in Vietnam is huge,” said Portia Stratton, country director of Mine Advisory Group, the largest non-profit de-mining group in Vietnam. “We’re still finding the same number of UXO that we were finding [when we started here] 15 years ago.”

‘Lagging behind’

Introduced in 2010, Vietnam’s mine action strategy came years after other UXO-infested nations including its neighbors, Laos and Cambodia. which were also heavily bombed to jam communist supply routes in the war.

“Vietnam is lagging behind a lot of other countries that have significant levels of contamination,” Stratton said. “We still don’t have a full picture of what our efforts have achieved.”

Since the end of the war in 1975, war remnants have killed more than 42,000 Vietnamese and injured at least 62,000 others, according to preliminary statistics by the government.

But with no national database in place, UXO incidents and demining operations cannot be accurately tracked while affected remote areas go unnoticed, advocates say.

In March, the Vietnam National Mine Action Center was launched to provide more oversight in the secretive state, which already had similar mine action bodies at the national level.

Stratton warns that the new center may serve as another bureaucratic layer and further delay mine action services that often take up to one year to get government approval.

Middle-income blues

Despite its fondness for red tape, Vietnam has revived itself as one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia after devastating warfare with US forces.

In 2009, the country gained lower middle-income status but the distinction has created a sort of Catch-22 paradox as foreign donors redirect funds elsewhere.

“There’s more of a challenge now to enable us to secure funding,” said Rickard Hartmann, country director for APOPO, a Belgium-based demining group. “We are very happy that Vietnam is developing but at the same time more and more donors are reducing their support.”

The 50-member APOPO group began operations in January after the German non-profit Solidarity Service International pulled out its 160 personnel from the area, leaving a two-thirds reduction in skilled labor, he said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung recently called on the global community to boost support saying that “since the explosive contamination is so great, Vietnam truly needs assistance and support.”

Vietnamese officials claim that $10 billion is required to completely rid existing UXO – a feat that would take up to 300 years for the country to do on its own, they say.

Around 35,000 hectares of unsafe land is cleared annually but the state has ambitious plans to nearly triple that target to 100,000 hectares if external aid is increased.

Yet the government spends about $80 million on mine action, or less than 0.20 percent of its national budget.

Deputy Minister of Vietnam’s Ministry of Planning and Investment Nguyen The Phuong admitted that the meager funds “could not meet the actual needs of mine action activities.”

He also cited poor coordination between state and provincial entities, lack of human resources, and technology and equipment shortages as other factors hindering progress.

A 2012 assessment on Vietnam’s mine action program, conducted by the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Deming, revealed that the government and state-connected private investors bankrolled 92 percent of activities from 2007 to 2011.

The government currently expects foreign donors to cover about half of the estimated $368 million required for mine action from 2013 to 2015, according to a 2013 update on the national strategy.

But foreign donors only doled out $8.7 million for mine action in 2012, with the US contributing more than 40 percent of the total, the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor reported.

Vietnam may be entitled to more foreign aid if they signed the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions that prohibits their use.

Even so, landmines are seen as legitimate weapons for border security. Officials also reject the cluster bomb pact since the 10-year deadline for member states to finish land clearance is unrealistic to them, they said.

Ironically, cluster bombs would likely delay the country due to how they were dispersed in the war. Hundreds of cluster bombs – each about the size of a tennis ball – were packed inside large airdropped canisters that scattered the bomblets over wide swathes of the countryside.

Although designed to explode on impact, many of them did not.

Enlisting local help

To deal with the funding shortfalls, bomb experts rely on villagers to be their eyes and ears for war remnants.

“To clean up every bomb and mine in Vietnam is impossible,” said Hien Ngo, spokesperson for Project Renew, a demining group that also empowers locals. “It’s a daunting task that will never likely be achieved, so we want to make sure that the land is safe by educating people about the risks.”

Ngo has already seen the value of his group’s education programs that are taught in schools and to those who come to their mine action visitor center in the province’s largest city.

He recalled when a 12-year-old boy halted a crew driving to another call and led them to a cache of 180 explosives concealed in the dense jungle.

“The boy learned what to do after he visited the center,” he said. “Now people are helping us report explosives.”

Nguyen Xuan Tuan, 29, wished he knew the dangers of war relics before he scavenged for scrap metal at a deserted US military base back in 2002.

After his friend found something on a metal detector, Tuan sliced the ground with his shovel. But as he dug deeper, he struck a cluster bomb.

The blast severed his right hand, cut deep scars across his body and knocked him into a three-day coma.

“I woke up seeing my parents crying and I realized that I was in a miserable situation,” he said. “The only thing I could do was cry and think that this was the end of my life.”

Tuan, one of the nation’s five Ban Advocates that campaign against cluster bombs worldwide, is now using his experience to educate others throughout the province.

“I’ve been very lucky to be exposed to the outside world,” he said. “In rural areas, many voices are not being heard and people do not receive the assistance they need.”

By the end of 2015, Vietnam aims to develop a national database and expand risk education to the most dangerous areas.

The US also continues to be the top donor for mine action activities in Vietnam, giving over $62 million so far, officials say.

But 50 years after the US military drastically built up its presence to counter evasive communist fighters, Ngo said that both sides have failed to tackle the aftermath and must “step up” their efforts.

“Although we see positive developments to make the war’s legacy finally history, bombs and mines are still killing and injuring people,” he said.

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Rural Bosnia & Herzegovina Struggle w...
Sarajevo
By Transterra Editor
26 Sep 2013

Almost two decades after the war in Bosnia & Herzegovina ended, the country remains threatened by more than 120,000 landmines — about 2.5 percent of the total land mass — that remain a dark legacy of the war, buried in the ground along former frontlines.

While urban areas are being largely demined, people living in the remote landside of Bosnia are permanently threatened by the hidden hazards in the ground near their homes. Relatives of landmine victims, as well as survivors, mostly do not receive any governmental help. For these people live in remote areas with high unemployment rates with no possibility of earning money for a living, the only income for most is to collect firewood or fruits in the nearby forests. Some of these families have victims spanning two or three generations.

Without help from the government, the people largely depend on the Landmine Survivors Initiative (LSI), a non-governmental institution that provides affected people and communities with psychological and financial support. In some cases the NGO provides a greenhouse, in others agricultural machines, so that people can try to make a living instead of depending on the woods for survival.

Photos and Text by Michael Biach

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Bosnia Landmines 20
Lukavica Rijeka
By Michael Biach
24 Sep 2013

Razija Aljic‡ with her only remaining son Ruzmir, 19. Following the return to their pre-war house in the village of Lukavica Rijeka, the family'€™s tragedy took its course: In 1996 Razija lost Nedzad, then 19, in a landmine incident near their house. Only two years later her husband got killed in another explosion. In summer 2011, Razija's second son Yusuf and his brother-in-law were fatally wounded by a landmine explosion and died in the forests.