Legacy of War: Preventing Landmine Accidents in Kashmir


Landmines and other explosive remnants of war planted during the 68-year conflict between India and Pakistan threaten the lives and wellbeing of people living in Kashmir, a mountainous region between the two countries. In order to prevent injuries and deaths, Handicap International launched a risk awareness campaign in the heavily-effected India states of Srinagar and Jammu.

Most landmines are located on the border and are cordoned off by barbed wire, but accidents still occur regularly. More than half of landmine victims are local people working for the military as guides and porters in polluted areas. As most of the mines were planted decades ago, younger people who are not aware of the danger posed by landmines are especially at risk. When shown photos of mines, many children think the devices are toys.

The region is prone to floods and landslides, which dislodge mines and push them on to community land. In early April, three farmers were killed and one was seriously injured by a landmine outside the town of Rajouri. A heavy rainstorm dislodged the mine from a higher elevation. Light and containing little metal, it easily slid downhill and landed in a field. When farmers found it and tried to move it, it exploded.

In order to combat this problem, Handicap International recently executed a large-scale education campaign to teach local people about the risks posed by landmines and how to identify, avoid, and report the presence of explosives. In partnership with a local NGO, Handicap International distributed 30,000 brochures and has run trainings for 500 people in four districts. An additional 100 volunteers and government health workers will also be trained.