Still on Precautionary Measures Against Landmines
By Haruna Mohammed
Proliferation of land mines and un-exploded ordinances (UXOs) is a major social problem in the world today. This is because, almost all parts of the world are suffering from one aspect of crisis or the other due to Arms proliferation. The origin, nature and diversity of the conflict may differ, but the consequences and impact are similar.
In most cases, Lives are lost, casualties sustained, Property destroyed, Economy affected and Human Right abuse become rampant. Until recently, the upsurge of insurgency can only be heard in the Middle East, South America, and some parts of Europe, but in the last two decades, Africa has witnessed and is still witnessing series of crisis and violence. These include. Militancy, Insurgency, Social upheavels, Anarchy and Civil disobedience.
In Nigeria, activities of insurgency, Communal clashes, Kidnappings, Assassinations and Militancy are all pointers to the above facts, and in most cases small Arms and light weapons such as AK 47 Rifles, Rocket Propelled grenade, dynamites and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are used by warring factions to impact heavy casualties on their perceived enemies and civilian populations.
This paper will focus on mine and security awareness in order to sensitize the internally displaced persons on the dangers associated with land mines, particularly during and after crisis situation in order to minimize casualties and self restrain among the internally displaced persons especially now that they returning to their original settlements previously ravaged by crisis.
Land mines are basically explosive devices that are designed to be detonated by the presence, Action, closeness or actual contact of a person triggered by presence of a trip wire. They are typically found on or just below the surface of the ground. The purpose of mine when used by Armed Forces is to incapacitate any person or vehicle that comes into contact with it by an explosion or fragments released from it at high speeds. The objects or landmines buried or kept can be dormant for years or decades until a person or animal triggers it.
These explosives devices pose serious threats to the safety of civilians, including women and children during conflict and post conflict situations.
According to Ban Treaty 1997 “Anti personnel mines are mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure, kill one or more persons” (Article 2.1).
Mines are often laid in groups called mine field and are designed to prevent enemy from passing through certain area or sometimes to force an enemy through a particular area.
According to one world International, “Since 1975, Land mines have killed or maimed more than one million people which has further led to a world wide effort to Ban further land mine use and clear away existing ones”.
In order to address the devastating effect of land mines on both the military and civilian populace, the International campaign to Ban Land mine (ICL) in partnership with some States, International Committee on Red Cross (ICRC) and United Nations Organisation (UN) put in motion what later known as “Ottawa process” that led to the adoption of the mine Ban Treaty in September, 1997.
The mine Band Treaty includes a comprehensive Ban on all Anti personnel mines as well as several measures to redress the harm from past use.
Considering the devastating effects of unexploded ordinance (UXO) and light weapons such as grenade, Unexploded ammunition, Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) which has been fired and did not explode or buried in the minefield in order to cause maximum damage to perceived enemies especially in a war ravaged communities where the insurgents had previously occupied and later abandoned. There is need for extreame caution by inhabitants or internally displaced persons (IDPs) in order not to fall victims of land mine or unexploded ordinances such as improvised explosive devices (IEDS), unexploded grenades, Ammunition or dynamites.
Some signs of Land Mine or Un-Exploded Ordinance (Uxo) include the following: Trip wire and cables, Un-attended fields, Un-used paths and Roads, Un-used Buildings, Locals behaviour, Mine Packaging, Strange Objects among others.
Some of the essential precautionary measures include: Dont Touch, Stop and Assess, Note
Draw back and report immediately.
When land mine or un exploded ordinance are spotted and reported to the police, the explosive ordinance disposal unit or (Bombs disposal unit) will be deployed to confirm the object, clear the area by cordoning the entire surroundings in order to prevent shrapnels or fragments from affecting people due to explosion and thereafter detonate or evacuate the mine or explosive devices to a safer location for successful detonation.
In conclusion, the dangers of mine or un-exploded ordinance to the society cannot be over emphasized especially now that the Nation is facing many security challenges due to activities of insurgency, Militancy, Kidnapping, Armed Banditry and ethnic violence.
Creating mine awareness will therefore go a long way in curtailing or minimizing casualties such as death, disability, Blindness, Amputation etc among the civilian population, especially Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North Eastern sub region who are gradually returning to their original settlements due to clampdown on insurgents by the Law enforcement agents.
Police Public Relations Officer
Anamabra State Police Command