Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Angola 'Did you Know2' - Landmines

Angola has one of the highest rates of landmine injuries per capita in the world. These mines were placed as strategic deterents by the fighting armies during the many years of civil war. Estimates for the number of landmines in Angola range from 6 to 20 million; nearly twice the population. According to the United Nations and the United States Department of State, Angola is the third most heavily mined country in the world after Egypt and Iran. (UN, Mines Awareness Project 2007, UNICEF ANGOLA)

The amputee population in Angola is 100,000, the highest in the world, of which 8,000 are children under the age of fifteen.

You can imagine how the threat of these mines directly affects the people; since civilians are the ones most injured by the mines, many millions of Angolans have been displaced to cities to avoid the potential death and terrible injuries caused by inadvertantly stepping on one.

Back in the '90s when I was previously serving in Angola, I can remember visiting a local church in a remote village that was surrounded by mine fields; the people had adapted to the threat of the mines and identified the locations of most of the mines.  While on the visit, the church leaders wanted me to inspect their well; their water source. Unbeknownst to me, we would have to walk on a very narrow path through one of the mine fields to reach the well.  I remember well the instructions given me by the leader before we set off on the path, "Trust me, I know where the mines are.  Just step in my footsteps and don't veer off the path!"  Wise words to follow indeed and they can also be directly related in a spiritual sense to my daily walk with God!

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