Incidence rate of land mine victims in Kosovo is high

August 13, 1999

(Incidence rate of land mine victims in Kosovo is high) BMJ Volume 319 14 August 1999 p450

The incidence rate of injuries and deaths in Kosovo caused by mines and unexploded ordnance exceeds that found in many other countries affected by antipersonnel mines, such as Mozambique, Afghanistan or Cambodia, say researchers in a letter in this week's BMJ.

Dr Etienne Krug and Dr A Gjini from the World Health Organisation report that during the four week's after 13 June, when Kosovar refugees began returning home, an estimated 150 people were maimed or killed by mines or unexploded ordnance in Kosovo. Seventy one per cent of the survivors were younger than 24 years of age and most were boys and men, say Krug and Gjini. They report that the rates of such injuries are expected to remain high as the population has not yet started to return to the fields and the collection of fire wood for the winter is expected to start in September.

Mines and unexploded ordnance are not only a public health problem because they kill and maim, but also because they drain resources from an already depleted health system, say the authors. They say that their study confirmed that current efforts at raising mine awareness and demining should be encouraged and increased. They also argue that awareness raising efforts should be especially targeted at young men and children and that, as in other countries, the international community should first train and equip the local deminers.

Dr Etienne Krug, Medical Officer, Violence and Injury Prevention, Department for Disability, Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation, Social Change and Mental Health, World Health Organisation, Geneva


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