While data collection is difficult, Landmine Monitor estimates about 5,400 persons in more than 70 countries were killed or injured by landmines and other explosive ordnance in 2007. About one-third of the victims were children. Ten years after the Mine Ban Treaty took effect, 156 states are party to the treaty, but the U.S. has yet to ratify it.
A single landmine can cost as little as $3 to produce but as much as $1,000 to clear. Beginning in 1969 the United States exported 4.4 million antipersonnel mines, mostly to Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Somalia, and Vietnam. The U.S. has not used antipersonnel mines since the 1991 Gulf War, and it has not exported them since 1992. However, it still stockpiles more than 10.4 million antipersonnel mines for potential future use.
The Mine Ban Treaty has led to the destruction of more than 40 million stockpiled mines. It has also brought international assistance to thousands of mine victims and billions of dollars for clearing mines and other explosive ordnance. The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines says the U.S. has been the largest donor, contributing more than $1 billion since 1993.
“Survivors around the world are looking to President Obama for leadership,” says Jerry White, executive director of Survivor Corps. White, who lost a leg to a landmine on a visit to the Golan Heights in 1984, says, “It is one thing for the U.S. to be a leader in providing fake legs to landmine survivors around the world, but wouldn’t it be far better for the administration to join in eliminating these killing machines?”