Cluster munitions are air or ground based explosives that release smaller sub munitions. Are you at risk?
For the past decade, the United States has prohibited the use of cluster munitions because of their threat to civilian populations. This ban had been lifted.
For some victims, the ban was meaningless as several African countries have more mines than other countries currently experiencing conflict. In fact, 22 African countries experienced mine casualties in 2016 and agriculture has been severely hampered.
Angola has an estimated 10 million landmines strewn across its land and Zimbabwe has the highest number of mines than any other country. Islamic State ( IS) have used mines in Libya; Egypt has uncharted minefields from World War 2; Angola has actioned a major demining operation from Menongue to Cuito Cuanavale; and Nigeria still has uncovered mines from the Biafran war in the late 1960s. There are over 600 different types of landmines and travelling in Africa exposes you to risk.
6 steps to protect yourself from landmines.
- If you see a landmine on the ground, do not touch.
- If you suspect, or have been advised, that an area is mined, ask a local about identifying markers. Often, there will not be signs clearly visible but there will be markers. These markers can be small rock cairns, sticks or painted rocks.
- If you have driven into a minefield and one explodes under a vehicle, stop all movement.
- If you have walked into a minefield, retrace your steps or vehicle tracks as closely as possible.
- Think twice before helping a mine-blast victim. Rather, reassure them and call for help. Otherwise, you might become a victim, too.
- If you have access to body armour and a helmet, wear them in your vehicle. Sit on the body armour and let the helmet protect your head, because it could hit the roof in an explosion.
Attend one of courses and learn how to identify different mines, travel safely in convoy and treat blast victims.
H.E.A.T. tip: Mines can be exposed by the downwash of a helicopter during a medical evacuation or after heavy rains.