“Lend a Leg” and a Brain for a Landmine-Free World

"Should I roll up my right pant leg on April 4th, or my left?"

Do you support the idea of a world free of landmines?  If so, show that support on Wednesday, April 4.  Spend the day with one of your pant legs rolled up just below (or if needed, above) the knee.  Which means, gals, you’ll need to wear slacks or jeans that day, too, if your culture permits and you’re allowed to show your legs.  And when people ask you what on earth you’re doing, tell them!

You’re “lending a leg” on behalf of landmine survivors, some of whom no longer have the two lower limbs they were born with.  You’re demonstrating solidarity with all those who hope to make landmines as extinct as Tyrannosaurus rex.

Let me explain.

In December 2005, the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly declared April 4 of each year “International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.”  I just learned about the declaration a few months ago, which suggests that public promotion for the day has been less than ideal.

On the positive side of awareness and action, eighty percent of countries have banned landmines since the global Mine Ban Treaty entered into force thirteen years ago.  Most countries no longer produce them, and millions of mines have been removed.

But landmines still continue to kill, maim and threaten people.  Deaths and injuries from landmines and explosive remnants of war currently total over 4,000 per year.  Civilians comprise approximately seventy percent of the casualties and twenty-five percent of victims are children.  Many lose feet, legs, hands or eyes.

In response, landmine survivors, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the United Nations, and other partners have now launched the “Lend your leg for a mine-free world” campaign.  Campaigners — including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon — are asking people around the world to join them by rolling up their pant legs on the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.  That is, on April 4th.

Over sixty countries contain buried, unexploded landmines.  No one knows how many are out there, but rough estimates start at one-hundred million and climb higher.  Angola has approximately six million.  Afghanistan contains somewhere between ten and thirty million.  “Lending a leg” on April 4th, won’t alter those horrific facts by April 5th.  However, public education about the problem can promote positive change over time through increased donations to appropriate charities, invention of new land mine clearance technologies, community involvement and political action.

And speaking of inventing new land mine clearance technologies, that’s where “lending your brain” becomes vital.  Do you have any creative ideas?  Do you know anyone else who might?  Start your own think tank on Facebook.  Or simply share your ideas here on the “Minds Clearing Land Mines” WordPress blog.  You, too, can be as smart as a rat.

Warm wishes from Laurel Anne Hill, Moderator.