Landmine injuries in Eritrea, by Kurt Hanevik
A survey to map the number of persons with various disabilities was made by the Eritrean Department of Social Affairs in 1990 and 92. Main categories in the study were: Visual impairment, Deafness, Amputations, Paralysis, Mental disorders and Unspecified. This study was helpful in the way that it provided recent statistics on amputees and cause of disability. In particular I examined the leg amputee numbers assuming them to be one of the best available pointers to where landmines constituted the biggest problem.
Before looking closer at the disability study one has to be aware that there are several sources for errors in this material so that one can not draw very conclusive results from it. In this study there were a substantial group of unspecified disabilities. Migration in the years around liberation might also mess up the reliability of the study. Additional flaw might be caused by all those that for different reasons escaped the recording done in the study. Population data is still uncertain with refugees and displaced people moving. Below is used offical Eritrean population figures.
The study concluded that the total number of civilian amputees in 1992 was 2552. Leg amputees numbers 1360, and arm amputees ncomes up to 1192. The total number of Ex-combatants with leg amputations is given to be 1550. This leads us to a total number of leg amputees of 2910 for the whole country in 1992. A amputee ratio of 0.45 per 1000 inhabitants is considerably higher than in European countries.
When dividing the number of legs amputees on the total population in the various provinces I found three provinces (Senhit, Hamasien and Sahel) to have substantially higher leg amputee ratios (marked with *) than the rest of the provinces.
|Prevalence of civilian amputees in Eritrea|
|Province||1 leg||2 legs||1 arm||2 arms||Population|
|Senhit||202||34||262||29||275 000||* 0,85|
|Hamasien||182||29||176||14||227 000||* 0,93|
|Sahel||221||42||104||47||289 000||* 0,91|
|Total||1162||198||1056||136||3 054 000||0,45|
|Dep. of Social Affairs, 1990/1992|
However, in the Programme for the Physical Rehabilitation of the Disabled, the figures listed from the same survey shows the following and very different figures for Sahel and Semhar. If these figures are correct Semhar turns out to be the province with the highest leg amputee ratio. This information came to me at a late stage so I did not find time to go further into the situation in these provinces. Neither did I succeed in finding out which of the figures are actually correct.
|Leg amputations||1 or 2 leg
|Province||1 leg||2 legs||Population|
Cause of disability
When looking at the causes of disabilities by province I found high numbers of disabilities caused by explosive in the same provinces as those who had a high leg amputation ratio. Standing out in this table is Senhit, Hamasien, Seraye and Sahel (marked with *). Considerations on amputee ratio as well as cause of disability made the basis for further work as I here found an indicator, though weak, to where in Eritrea landmine injuries are most prevalent.
|Prevalence of explosive injuries by province|
cause of disability
|Per 1000 of