Landmines in Eritrea - Introduction

By Kurt Hanevik

Landmine injuries in Eritrea

The following report is the result of a one month survey where I tried to assess the land mine problem in Eritrea from a public health point of view. I was told frankly when I came to Eritrea that I had to work independently and start from scratch, as no work had been done on this topic before.

Realizing the poor statistical recording and reporting existing in this war-torn and recently independent country I had to reconsider my initial aim of doing a comprehensive quantitative countrywide study on landmine related injuries and disabilities since liberation. I ended up with a more qualitative interview based study with a some case studies at selected hospitals. With my public health point of view I also tried to explore the socio-economic effects of the landmine problem as well as previous and planned efforts in mine clearance.

I would like to stress that with limited period of data collection and a limited number of sources and material available, this report is only a brief outline of the problem, and might lack important information in the fields covered.

Why ?
This survey I did on my own initiative wishing to contribute to the International Campaign to ban A/P landmines and because very little work had been done to assess the size of the landmine problem in Eritrea other than it was stated as VERY SEVERE in a recent US state department report. Also I hoped that more information about the landmine problem in Eritrea will help speed up the de-mining efforts in this country and to help raise funds for this purpose. I especially wanted to do work in Eritrea, as I have followed the Eritrean people's struggle for independence in newspapers and books since many years.
I was helped by Terje Halvorsen and Rune Nilsen at the Centre for International Health at the University of Bergen to establish contact with Dr. Nerayo in the Eritrean Relief and Rehabilitation Agency. Dr. Nerayo then helped me with further contacts within Eritrea.

Wherever I use the term mine or landmine I refer to antipersonnel landmine if otherwise is not indicated. An anti-personnell landmine is any munition placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a person.

Kurt Hanevik

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