The other day, construction workers came across an unexploded bomb, as big as a man, which had apparently been sitting there in Northwest London since World War II. Needless to say, it caused quite a panic. Residents and schools had to be evacuated. You can read more about it here.
I’m always astounded when such discoveries are made. People have been living their lives, going about their business, smoking, shooting off fireworks, blasting their radios, you name it, right on top of this thing for decades.
And how do you lose a bomb? I mean, seriously. Yes, it was just one of untold numbers going off at the time, and people had, no doubt, quite a bit on their minds, but still. This thing is huge. You’d think it would be rather hard to overlook.
One can hope that incidents of this kind are relatively rare. More insidious are the 110 million anti-personnel mines in the ground, and another 100 million stockpiled around the world, according to care.org.
Landmines are meant to be hidden. The problem with that is that they stay hidden, even long after wars are over. They kill and maim even in times of peace. They target both sides, in perpetuity. And children, in particular, are at risk, because they tend to play off the beaten path, and like to pick up things that look interesting.
Again, according to care.org, each day over 70 people are killed or injured by these mines. That’s one person every 15 minutes. 300,000 children have been severely disabled because of them.
Once again I’m reminded how lucky I am. I’ve only visited one country with a major landmine problem: Croatia. While there, I planned to visit the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, but was warned that if I did, I shouldn’t stray at all off the established paths because they still find landmines there. In a serene, bucolic national park. Horrifying. (It turned out it was too out of the way to fit into my itinerary, and I have to admit I was equally disappointed and relieved.)
I can’t imagine what it must be like to live every day in the vicinity of live ordinance. It must be terrifying to have to worry about your child getting blown up while walking to school, your wife getting blown up while fetching water, and you yourself having to hesitate to farm your own fields.
There is no justification for landmines. What horrors we visit upon ourselves.
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