Go to main content

International Mine Action Day: portraits of deminers whose day job is to save lives

Explosive weapons

Besides killing and causing horrific injuries, explosive weapons spread terror, make people fear for their lives, devastate vital infrastructure and prolong the effect of war even after the end of a conflict. On the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Handicap International highlights the incredible work of deminers all over the world.

A deminer takes part in a training exercise before operations begin

A deminer takes part in a training exercise before operations begin. | © J.M. Vargas/Handicap International

Published last November, the Landmine Monitor reported a record increase in the number of casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), up 75% from 2014.  The vast majority of people killed and injured in these attacks were civilians. This depressing finding is directly linked to the intensive use in recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere of explosive weapons in populated areas.

“Bombing and shelling not only has a devastating impact during an attack, these weapons also leave behind large quantities of explosive remnants of war, since a significant proportion of weapons do not explode on impact. These explosive remnants continue to put civilian lives at risk long after fighting or a conflict is over. They pose exactly the same threat as anti-personnel mines,” explains Aleema Shivji Executive Director of Handicap International UK

Every day, inspiring staff from Handicap International are demining the countries most affected by explosive remnants of war.

Inspiring staff like Ali who has been working in Lebanon for 10 years. So far he helped destroy 700 mines, saving 700 lives. Or Shoresh in Iraq and Tong in Laos who respectively destroyed 190 and 115 mines in 7 years, saving hundreds of lives.

Marta, in Colombia, has never forgotten a lucky escape she had when she was a teenager. She now oversees mine clearance operations in Colombia for Handicap International. “When I was fourteen I stumbled on a mine as I was walking through my village. It was damp so it didn’t go off. I saw people maimed by mines when I was growing up. I saw children die for a war that wasn’t theirs. Like many people, violence had a big impact on us. And now I’m a mine clearance expert. I really love my work. I can’t tell you how great it feels when I finish clearing a mined area.” says Marta.

Ali, Shoresh, Tong and Marta are four of a number of Handicap International deminers whose day job is to save lives. You can see their and share their portraits on our Mine Action Day Facebook album.

Where we work

Read more

Violence between Gaza and Israel: explosive weapons cause serious injuries
© Oriane Van Den Broeck / HI
Explosive weapons

Violence between Gaza and Israel: explosive weapons cause serious injuries

More than 30 people were killed in the exchanges of rocket fire and airstrikes between Gaza and Israel over the weekend. In Gaza, this escalation of violence could lead to a new wave of injuries, with surgical and rehabilitation services already overwhelmed.  

International Parliamentary Appeal to protect civilians from explosive weapons
© INEW
Explosive weapons

International Parliamentary Appeal to protect civilians from explosive weapons

The International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) of which Humanity & Inclusion is a founding member has launched an International Parliamentary Appeal calling on politicians including MPs in the UK to urgently support action to prevent human suffering from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. For Humanity & Inclusion the Appeal will be part of the organisations Stop Bombing Civilians campaign in 2019.

HI Global Director Manuel Patrouillard addresses UN Security Council
UNTV
Emergency Explosive weapons Rights

HI Global Director Manuel Patrouillard addresses UN Security Council

Humanity & Inclusion's Global Managing Director, Manuel Patrouillard, addressed the UN Security Council on Monday 1st April to share his concerns about the persistent and targeted violences against humanitarian actors in their areas of intervention.