UrbanizationSince 2013, the U.N. has celebrated October 31 as World Cities Day in support of global urbanization and sustainable urban development. This year’s theme of “Innovative Governance, Open Cities” highlights the important role of urbanization as a source of global development and social inclusion. Urbanization in developing countries contributes to poverty reduction, access to sanitation facilities and education equality if managed correctly.

Urbanization is the result of an increase in population in urban areas. Urban areas differ from rural areas due to numerical and occupational differences in population. For the most part, urban areas have more inhabitants with more industrial professions than the less populated, more agriculture-centric rural areas. Each country sets certain criteria to distinguish urban areas; “some countries define any place with a population of 2,500 or more as urban; others set a minimum of 20,000.”


These six numbers represent urban development in the world:

  • 54.5 percent
    In 2016, more than half of the world’s population resided in urban areas. From 30 percent in 1950, the urban population of the world has grown rapidly. An estimated 54.5 percent of the globe now resides in urban agglomerates. By 2030, 60 percent of the world is expected to reside in urban areas.
  • 33.2 million
    The biggest city in the world today, Tokyo, has a population of 33.2 million. Tokyo’s high population, over 10 million, qualifies the city as a megacity. In 1970, Tokyo and New York were the only megacities in the world. Today, Tokyo is one of 23 megacities, including 13 in Asia, four in Latin America and two each in Africa, Europe and North America.
  • $600 million
    UN-Habitat has set aside $600 million to focus exclusively on urbanization issues, including “growth of slums, inadequate and out of date infrastructure and escalating poverty and unemployment.” While urbanization brings many positive changes, the related potential for dislocation and destabilization is the focus of the UN-Habitat for a better urban future.
  • 99 percent
    According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies 2015 report, “nearly 99 percent of urbanization between now and 2050 will take place in the developing world.” The report maps out urbanization as an economic opportunity for donors of developing nations, as long as urban challenges are addressed.
  • 80 percent
    In 2013, the World Bank reported that over 80 percent of global goods and services are produced in cities. Just the year before, “large cities made up 33 percent of the world’s global population, but produced more than 55 percent of all global economic output.” The amount of goods and services produced in cities exceeds those produced elsewhere in the world.
  • 82 percent
    The most urbanized region in the world is Northern America, with 82 percent urbanization, according to the U.N. Latin America and the Caribbean follow with 80 percent urbanization and Europe with 73 percent urbanization. Africa and Asia are urbanizing faster than any other region. While they are mostly rural now, Africa and Asia are projected to become 56 and 64 percent urban respectively by 2050.

Urbanization is spreading across the world at a growing pace. If managed properly, urbanization in developing countries can help lift many people out of poverty by providing better access to jobs, education and services. Supporting this goal is a worldwide effort.

Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Africa Facts Statistics Suffering Poverty Line
How bad is poverty in Africa? The situation is improving, but Africa remains the poorest continent on Earth. But what many people may not know are the effects of poverty in Africa—including hunger, disease and a lack of basic necessities.


Leading Facts About Poverty in Africa


  1. Seventy-five percent of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa, including Zimbabwe, Liberia and Ethiopia. The Central African Republic ranked the poorest in the world with a GDP per capita of $656 in 2016.
  1. According to Gallup World, in 2013, the 10 countries with the highest proportion of residents living in extreme poverty were all in sub-Saharan Africa. Extreme poverty is defined as living on $1.25 or less a day. In 2010, 414 million people were living in extreme poverty across sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank, those living on $1.25 a day accounted for 48.5 percent of the population in that region in 2010.
  1. Approximately one in three people living in sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimated that 239 million people (around 30 percent of the population) in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry in 2010. This is the highest percentage of any region in the world. In addition, the U.N. Millennium Project reported that over 40 percent of all Africans are unable to regularly obtain sufficient food.
  1. In sub-Saharan Africa, 589 million people live without electricity. As a result, a staggering 80 percent of the population relies on biomass products such as wood, charcoal and dung in order to cook.
  1. Of the 738 million people globally who lack access to clean water, 37 percent are living in sub-Saharan Africa. Poverty in Africa results in more than 500 million people suffering from waterborne diseases. According to the U.N. Millennium Project, more than 50 percent of Africans have a water-related illness like cholera.
  1. Every year, sub-Saharan Africa misses out on about $30 billion as productivity is compromised by water and sanitation problems. This amount accounts for approximately five percent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), exceeding the total amount of foreign aid sent to sub-Saharan Africa in 2003.
  1. Due to continuing violence, conflict and widespread human rights abuses, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reports that 18 million people are of concern to the agency, including stateless people and returnees.
  1. Fewer than 20 percent of African women have access to education. Uneducated African women are twice as likely to contract AIDS and 50 percent less likely to immunize their children. Meanwhile, the children of African women with at least five years of schooling have a 40 percent higher chance of survival.
  1. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 230 times more likely to die during childbirth or pregnancy than women in North America. Approximately one in 16 women living in sub-Saharan African will die during childbirth or pregnancy; only one in 4,000 women in North America will.
  1. More than one million people, mostly children under the age of five, die every year from malaria. Malaria deaths in Africa alone account for 90 percent of all malaria deaths worldwide. Eighty percent of these victims are African children. The U.N. Millennium Project has calculated that a child in Africa dies from malaria every 30 seconds, or about 3,000 each day.

– Jordanna Packtor

Sources: Global Issues, World Hunger, World Bank, World Population Review, The Richest, Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, UNHCR, The Water Project, Gallup, Global Finance


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Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone
From 1991 to 2002, Sierra Leone was embroiled in a devastating civil war, fought primarily between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and Sierra Leone Army (SLA). This civil war garnered international attention for its blatant use of child soldiers and for the skyrocketing of child soldiers in Sierra Leone.

Child soldiers are children (defined under international law as individuals under the age of 18) who are used for any military purpose. In the Sierra Leonean civil war, children made up between 40 and 50 percent of the RUF’s military force and approximately 20 percent of the government’s military force. In total, approximately 10,000 children were exploited and forced to be child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Discussed below are the leading facts about child soldiers in Sierra Leone.


Top 10 Facts About Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone


  1. The term child soldier does not only include those who carry a gun and fight. Children also served as messengers and porters, and young girls were conscripted into sexual slavery or forcibly married to generals.
  2. Children are chosen to be soldiers because they are easily manipulated. They are more loyal and obedient than adults and they are far less likely to revolt. They also do not require wages, making them a cheap alternative to traditional soldiers.
  3. Children are more likely to become child soldiers if they are poor, living in a combat zone, displaced from their homes, separated from their families or have limited access to education.
  4. The process of reintegrating child soldiers is called Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR). Compounds were created to reintegrate child soldiers in Sierra Leone by providing them with education, food, shelter and psychiatric services.
  5. DDR is not necessarily 100 percent effective. Children may relapse into violence in adolescence and adulthood. Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, said: “One of my greatest fears in Sierra Leone now is, if you have a large number of disgruntled and idle young people who have nothing to do with themselves, you have the possibility of sparking anything.”
  6. DDR camps were also not completely safe. Rebel soldiers would hang around the camps and convince previously demobilized child soldiers to rejoin the army by promising to reunite them with their families or simply threatening to kill everyone else in the camp if they did not comply.
  7. Children were often forced to use drugs (typically marijuana or crack cocaine) to enable them to commit violence. As a result, they had a reputation among civilians for extreme cruelty. Many boys belonged to the infamous Small Boys Unit.
  8. This reputation for violence was one of the key barriers to reintegration. Child soldiers had lost their childhoods and been traumatized, but many could not return home because they were seen as murderers.
  9. In 2013, Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire founded a nonprofit called the Child Soldier Initiative (CSI). It designed a mandatory training manual and seminar for police and local armed forces to inform them of children’s rights and how to handle child soldiers in the field. This training has also been used in Sudan, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire, though it is not mandatory there.
  10. The second phase of CSI’s project is to have former child soldiers run the program and train other children on their rights and the alternatives to joining the conflict.

Recent innovations in international human rights law, such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (which has been ratified by more than 110 countries) are a reason to have hope for the future of children in conflict, as are nonprofits like the Child Soldier Initiative.

According to Theresa Betancourt, an expert in the field of child psychology in conflict and child soldiers, “We need to devise lasting systems of care, instead of leaving behind a dust cloud that disappears when the humanitarian actors leave.”

Olivia Bradley

Photo: Flickr

the Albigensian crusadeNot many people have heard of the Albigensian Crusade, but if you have, you know that this event was much like a real-life episode of Game of Thrones. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Albigensian Crusade.

    1. The crusade began in 1209
      The Albigensian Crusade was a 20-year-long endeavor, lasting from 1209 until 1229.
    2. Pope Innocent III started the crusade against the Cathars
      The Cathars were a religious group that rejected the traditional Roman Catholic Church. They committed themselves to the Cathari religious movement, which dominated southern France in the 1200s. The Cathars believed in a dualistic cosmology that partially adapted Catholic thought into a religion of their own and was thus considered heretical.
    3. The Albigensian Crusade took place in southern France
      The geographical scope of the crusade stretched across southern France: Avignon, Castelsarrasin, Termes and Toulouse.
    4. Catharism was virtually eliminated
      The crusade eventually eradicated Catharism by the end of the 13th century.
    5. Crusaders were instructed to have no mercy and no discretion
      During the capture of Béziers, a key Cathar territory in southern France, the papal legate was asked how to distinguish between Cathars and Christians, and allegedly responded “Kill them all. God will know his own.” Everyone in the south of France was at risk of being considered a heretic simply because of where they lived.
    6. Crusaders believed in “crusade indulgence”
      It was believed that “crusade indulgence” officially absolved sins and ensured that no punishment would be issued in the afterlife. The Albigensian Crusade was very popular among soldiers because they believed their sins would be forgiven for taking part in the crusade.
    7. The crusades morphed into a holy war
      By the 12th century, crusading was dedicated to removing religious diversity. The Roman Catholic Church considered the practice of other religions a threat to human salvation. Crusades branched out from those against Muslims and pagans in the Baltic region to the perceived threat of the Cathars.
    8. Pope Innocent III started the crusade but didn’t finish it
      After spearheading the crusade, Pope Innocent III was murdered while trying to recruit an ally. It is generally believed that the count of Toulouse, Raymond VI, murdered the pope after he tried to recruit the count to join the war effort.
    9. Royal intervention ended the crusade in 1229
      Despite papal inception, King Louis VIII brought the Albigensian Crusade to an end in 1229 after officially restoring control over the region.
    10. There were over one million deaths
      It is estimated that at least one million innocent lives were lost throughout the course of the 20-year crusade. Some Cathars were even burned at the stake.

Even though the Albigensian Crusade came to an end in 1229, it led to further persecution of heretics in the following century, including the infamous Spanish Inquisition and various other crusades. Though they occurred many centuries ago, these persecutions and deaths are part of the numerous human rights violations that have taken place throughout history.

Sloan Bousselaire

Photo: Google

Facts About the Syrian Civil WarWhile constantly in the news, the atrocities of the Syrian civil war, one of the greatest humanitarian crises in recent history, have become somewhat normalized to readers. However, it is imperative to remain at least aware, if not critical of the causes of such ongoing brutality. Here are 15 facts about the Syrian civil war to stay informed:

  1. In 2011, the Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad responded to civilians peacefully protesting wrongful imprisonment and torture by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more.
  2.  In July 2011, defectors from the military as well as Syrian civilians formed the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group aiming to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and his authoritarian regime.
  3. President Assad encouraged extremists to join the rebellion against his government, and even released jihadist prisoners in order to tinge the rebellion with extremism and make it more difficult for foreign backers to support them.
  4. Neighboring countries with Sunni majorities generally support the rebels while Shia majorities tend to support President Assad. In 2012, Iran intervened on President Assad’s behalf and supplies officers and cargo to government forces. In response, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan sent aid to the rebels to counter Iran’s influence.
  5. The Syrian civil war has become a proxy war between international powers. The United States, under the Obama administration, supported Syrian rebels through CIA training, making it a participant in the war. Russia, on the other hand, backs President Assad.
  6. Syrian Kurds carved out a semi-autonomous region in the north and northeast of Syria. The Kurds support neither the government nor the opposition. The United States has supported the Kurds as one of the most effective anti-Islamic State forces on the ground.
  7. Almost all the forces in Syria fighting against each other are also fighting the Islamic State. In 2011, al-Qaeda forces joined the rebellion against President Assad before beginning to seize control of territory in Syria, by which time they had renamed themselves the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), and labeling their territories its caliphate. Kurdish forces and Syrian rebels have been combating the rising power of ISIS. The United States has also directly intervened with air strikes.
  8. The United States launched a program to train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS, but not President Assad. The program was criticized for showing that the United States opposes ISIS more than Assad.
  9. President Bashar al-Assad is using chemical weapons against civilians. While the Syrian military as well as Assad himself deny such claims, organizations such as Human Rights Watch has documented the use of chlorine and sarin gas by the Syrian government against its own people.
  10. The United Nations commission of inquiry has evidence implicating all parties in the conflict of war crimes. Rebel forces, as well as the Syrian government and ISIS, have committed war crimes including murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearances. They have also been accused of leveraging access to food, water and health services as a method of combat.
  11. Entering its seventh year, the Syrian conflict has killed almost half a million Syrians, injured more than a million and displaced over 12 million, just about half of the country’s population before the war.
  12. 6.5 million of these displaced individuals are still in Syria. Internally displaced persons tend to be especially vulnerable, especially if they are still in areas of conflict. International aid agencies cannot easily access these areas.
  13. Most Syrian refugees are currently in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. While these areas are relatively safe for displaced Syrians, they remain unstable themselves.
  14. The mass exodus of Syrian refugees to Europe has created its own political crisis. European voters have largely rejected refugees in the wake of the rise of right-wing populism.
  15. Charity organizations across the globe are working to help the millions of Syrians affected by the war. The main charity groups include UNHCR, UNICEF, Doctors Without Border, Oxfam, the International Red Cross and Save the Children.

Richa Bijlani

Photo: Flickr

Central African Republic ConflictSince 1960, when the Central African Republic gained its independence from France, different armed conflicts have emerged in the country, principally fights for political power. However, in this decade, a confrontation between two different religious groups and the government has led to an environment of constant violence, forcing many people to leave their homes. These are 10 key facts about the Central Africa Republic conflict that you need to know.

  1. The Central African Republic conflict began in 2012 when the Seleka, a Muslim rebel coalition, attacked different cities in the country in order to overthrow the regime of President Francoise Bozizé.
  2. The main opposition group to the Seleka is the coalition known as Anti-Balaka, formed principally by Christian fighters.
  3. In 2014, Seleka rebels and Anti-Balaka forces agreed to a tentative ceasefire agreement.
  4. The Central African Republic conflict started again in 2015 when the government rejected the agreement by Seleka and Anti-Balaka forces.
  5. The Central African Republic conflict has displaced 466,000 people, who are now refugees in other countries.
  6. Since 2013, when the conflict started, more than 935,000 people have been internally displaced and about 60 percent of them are children.
  7. It is estimated that 3,000 to 6,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
  8. According to the U.N., nearly 2.5 million people are facing hunger in the country.
  9. Reports by human rights groups and the United Nations suggest crimes have been committed by both Seleka and Anti-Balaka.
  10. Different allegations of sexual abuse have been made by the United Nations, making the conflict worse inside the country.

Several organizations, principally the United Nations, are working in the country in order to end the conflict. However, the conflict is still ongoing, creating a wave of violence that has resulted in thousands of refugees, deaths and political uncertainty.

Dario Ledesma

Photo: Flickr

Turkey-ISIL ConflictSince Turkey declared war on the so-called Islamic State (ISIL) in 2014, the Middle Eastern country accomplished great strides in aiding the world’s poor, while struggling with both internal and external challenges. These 10 facts about the Turkey-ISIL conflict explore two sides of the same issue.

  1. Turkey’s economy struggled before the country declared war
    During the twenty-first century, Turkey utilized rapid urbanization and increasing trade to become an upper-middle-class country. As growth slowed in 2013, critics accused President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of being soft on terrorism. Time Magazine suggests that Erdoğan declared war on ISIL to distract his populace and boost the economy.
  2. In recent years, Turkey has discovered economic success
    The World Bank reports that exports and growth in Turkey will strengthen overall in 2017. In the midst of a turbulent time, the country continues decreasing its poverty rate past 9.3 percent, compared to 27.3 percent in the 2000s.
  3. Turkey has also found new economic hardships
    In spite of Turkey’s accomplishments fighting poverty, unemployment reached 12.1 percent in November 2016, rising from 11.1 percent a year earlier. The employment rate is even worse among men and women aged 15-24.
  4. Turkey shows incredible generosity to immigrants
    In 2015, Turkey provided a place to live for two million Syrian refugees. That number has since increased to three million. The 2015 Turkish Development Assistance Report named Turkey the second-largest donor country in the world.
  5. Turkey’s generosity comes with costs
    The increase in transport and food expenses drove core inflation up to 10.2 percent in 2017. This is the first time in a decade for such numbers to reach double digits in Turkey. Combined with a poor harvest and increasing gas prices, it’s uncertain how long Turkey will allow its refugees to stay. No one can put a price on human life, but these 10 facts about the Turkey-ISIL conflict reveal that fighting global poverty is more than a moral issue.
  6. Syrian refugees are uncertain if they’ll ever return home
    Many Turkish neighborhoods packed with Syrians in the past three years. As Middle Eastern conflict continues, these un-integrated communities reveal that caring for migrants is more than a short-term solution.
  7. Refugees are gaining more access to social services
    When Syrian refugees first entered Turkey in 2011, the government gave migrants a special protection status in lieu of work permits. The country also granted their guests temporary accommodation centers and permission to enroll in universities without passports. Turkey has since rolled out work permits in response to complaints.
  8. Not all refugees can use services
    Due to the length and cost of providing work permits and social security for Syrian workers, most Turkish companies risk minor fines to hire illegal workers. Such practices do not comfort Turkish anxieties. Labor lawyer Mehmet Ata Sarikaripoglu notes “a public concern that Turkish people would be unemployed because of… Syrians… employed with lower fees.”
  9. ISIL terrorists are retreating
    As of Oct. 4, 2017, Iraqi forces have retaken Hawija, a major Islamic State stronghold. Though Iraq routinely declares victory before fighting has finished, this latest strike continues a trend that has greatly reduced ISIL territory.
  10. Turkey’s conflicts with Kurds continue
    Turkish forces bombed more Kurdish separatists than ISIL targets during the war. The arrests of Kurdistan Workers Party members outnumber the amount of detained ISIL fighters. The Kurdistan Regional Government claimed territory close to Hawija, signaling that conflict in the region will continue for the foreseeable future.

These 10 facts about the Turkey-ISIL conflict reveal the inseparable relationships between war, economy and global poverty.

Nick Edinger

Photo: Google

Education in Myanmar

Due to a variety of factors, the access to quality education in Myanmar is generally poor. Below are seven things everyone should know about education in Myanmar.

  1. The amount of money invested into education in Myanmar is low. Only 1.3 percent of the country’s GDP is allocated to education. This is lower than the average reported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Myanmar now ranks 164th out of 168 by the U.N. Human Development Index for public spending on education.
  2. In the 1940s and 1950s, Myanmar had one of the highest literacy rates out of all of the countries in Asia. Compared to its counterparts, Myanmar was expected to be one of the fastest developing areas in the region. However, a lack of funding has since decreased the access to quality education in Myanmar.
  3. Students do not get to choose what they study. Even if students choose to pursue secondary education, they have little choice in terms of their area of study. Students will be assigned to study a subject based on their previous test scores, even if the area they are forced to go into does not provide many job opportunities.
  4. Education in Myanmar is only mandatory for five years. After the five required years, many students drop out of school due to family financial struggles. At 50 percent, the number of kids enrolled in secondary education in Myanmar is about half of the enrollment percentage of secondary school students in the United Kingdom.
  5. Politics play a significant role in access to quality education in Myanmar. After trying to pass an education bill proposed in 2014 – that would give citizens less autonomy over their education – many students protested against the government. Though their behavior might have had them arrested in the past, they were successful in getting the government to reconsider the education bill, which was passed in 2015.
  6. The Quality Basic Education Program (QBEP) and UNICEF are working to improve access to education for all children in Myanmar. The QBEP strives to provide quality education services to 34 areas in Myanmar. Of QBEP’s aims, one of them is to provide help to children and communities that are the most disadvantaged.
  7. Over recent years, investment in education has improved. In a span of only two years, from 2012 to 2014, public spending on education in Myanmar increased by 49 percent.

Though the investment in education in Myanmar has improved in recent years, there is still a lot of progress to be made within the country’s education system. Many organizations, such as QBEP and UNICEF, are taking steps in the right direction by working to provide better access to education for all children in Myanmar.

Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Dominica RefugeesNations such as the Commonwealth of Dominica, and in the Caribbean in general, have become increasingly popular for those seeking asylum throughout the world, demanding an understanding of refugees throughout Caribbean nations. Here on ten facts about Dominican refugees.

  1. Dominica does not actually have a significant refugee problem. In 2015, The World Bank recorded there to be 38 Dominican refugees. Comparatively, it reported that there were almost five million Syrian refugees, and even 4,832 American refugees, showing the Dominican refugee population to be rather small.
  2. Because the population of Dominican refugees is so small, there is little to no data about them.
  3. Dominica is not involved in any military operations and does not actually have a regular military force. Dominica’s only security force is its Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force. Due to the lack of internal and external military conflicts, there are no Dominican refugees fleeing from war.
  4. It is likely that refugees from neighboring islands use Dominica as a stop along their routes. The UNCHR believes Dominica could be a “point of transit” for Haitians traveling to the French territories of Guadeloupe and Martinique.
  5. In 2016, 26 people from Dominica applied for asylum in the United States, United Kingdom and France. All were rejected.
  6. The government of Dominica is committed to providing the necessary provisions to those seeking asylum in Dominica, but due to common economic migration movements throughout the Caribbean, as nationals of different islands travel to work, it is difficult for the government to know who is a refugee that needs aid. The UNCHR has highlighted this issue as key to the protection of refugees seeking asylum in Dominica.
  7. It has been proposed that Dominica could serve as the location for a “refugee nation,” an internationally recognized state for the settlement of refugees. Jason Buzi leads Refugee Nation, a project aimed at petitioning the UNCHR to charter a new country for refugees. Buzi proposed Dominica as an example of a prospective location for a refugee nation because it is an island with a small population that could accept a great influx of people. The goal of Refugee Nation is to establish a new nation by 2020.
  8. The numbers of refugees seeking asylum in the Caribbean continued to rise between mid-2015 and mid-2016. It has been shown that there was a 257 percent increase in asylum seekers in the Caribbean during this time period. Most of these refugees come from other Caribbean nations such as Cuba and Haiti, but others come from Venezuela, Syria, Sri Lanka and other South American, African, Asian and Middle Eastern nations.
  9. The current influx in refugees to the Caribbean poses issues for small Caribbean governments that have limited resources to support refugees, as the UNCHR highlighted with Dominica. However, refugees also bring skills and manpower to the economy, making them positive additions to small Caribbean countries.
  10. Refugees travel to the Caribbean seeking asylum due to the historical culture of immigration and mixed communities within the Caribbean, and the high level of human development in many Caribbean countries. Dominica is 96th, ranking high for quality of life on the UNDP’s Human Development Index.

Mary Luft
Photo: Flickr

Facts About LandminesLandmines are any type of container of explosive material than can be triggered when it comes into contact with a person or a vehicle. The explosive blast or fragments of a landmine are intended to incapacitate a person or vehicle.

10 Facts about Landmines:

  1. Landmines are generally buried 6 inches (15 centimeters) under the surface or simply laid above ground. Buried landmines can remain active for more than 50 years.
  2. Landmines come in two categories, anti-personnel landmines and anti-tank landmines. An anti-personnel landmine is designed to injure or kill a person, while an anti-tank landmine is designed to incapacitate tanks or other vehicles.
  3. Landmines were first created during World War I. While the original mines were anti-tank mines, anti-personnel mines were developed to prevent enemy forces from reusing or removing anti-tank mines.
  4. The random dissemination of landmines began in the 1960s. The U.S. dropped thousands of mines by plane during its nine-year bombing campaign of Laos.
  5. There are an estimated 110 million anti-personnel mines in the ground and another 250 million stockpiled across the world today. About 5 to 10 million mines are produced each year.
  6. The countries most affected by landmines are Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, China, Egypt and Laos. Mines are also a serious problem in Bosnia, Croatia, Georgia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
  7. One person is killed by a landmine every 15 minutes. About 70 people are killed by a landmine every day. 26,000 people a year become landmine victims. A total of over one million people have been killed or maimed by landmines.
  8. The cost of removing all currently existing mines would be $50-$100 billion. Organizations like Minesweepers are dedicated to removing landmines across the globe. Overall, mine removal operations have resulted in the destruction of more than 2.2 million anti-personnel mines and 250,000 anti-tank mines.
  9. Landmines deprive some of the poorest people on Earth access to arable land, markets, schools, work and water. The existence of landmines can also prevent reconstruction, new development and the delivery of aid.
  10. Landmines place a burden on the health systems of developing countries. People hurt by mines need more antibiotics and need to stay in the hospital longer than other patients.

Landmines can be hard to detect and are often prevalent in areas decimated by war. This makes their existence especially dangerous to the poor and to refugees. While these facts about landmines can be distressing, great work by organizations like Minesweepers helps make environments less dangerous and the lives of the global poor safer.

Brock Hall

Photo: Flickr