Princess Diana and the Landmines
During her life Princess Diana drew attention to the danger of landmines. She appeared on television wearing protective clothing and a special helmet, as a landmine was exploded at a safe distance from her.
Long after a war is over, peace treaties signed and soldiers gone home, landmines (and other unexploded bombs) remain hidden in the ground. They threaten the lives of ordinary people. Song Kosal was a little girl of only four when her leg was blown off by a landmine and she now needs a wheelchair to get around. The war in her country, Laos, had been over for many years before this happened to her, but the ground there is still full of landmines.
Poor people are especially at risk. They have to collect firewood, take their animals out to the fields, and dig the soil to plant crops for their families to survive. Children like to play outside where, unfortunately, they can easily pick up a landmine or tread on a hidden one.
Like Princess Diana, Song Kosal has become an international campaigner against landmines. In 1997, at the age of 13, she made a powerful speech in Ottawa, Canada, asking countries to sign a convention banning the use of landmines in future wars. In London, a number of popular singers gave their support to the Ottawa Convention.
Over 140 countries have now signed and it has become part of international law. But that is not the end of the problem. There is much work to be done:
- to find and destroy safely all the landmines which are hidden in the ground in nearly 100 countries:
- to tell children and adults how to avoid landmines;
- to give medical treatment and equipment to those injured by landmines;
- to persuade countries- for example, the United States, Russia and China- that have not yet signed up to the Ottawa Convention to do so.
The concern which Princess Diana felt towards landmine survivors and their families lives on the UK Working Group on Landmines, which unites all the organisations which are campaigning to ban these terrible weapons forever.
Christian Peace Education Centre,
St. Joseph's, Walford Way, London NW4 4TY