On a beautiful, sunny morning in November 1994, an 11-year-old girl set out in search of firewood. Her grandmother had awakened her, warning that if she returned empty handed, there would be no food that day. Pausing under a shady tree, Amelia looked up and wondered if there was any way she could reach all those branches. Testing the possibility, she jumped. She missed the branches, but when she landed, there was a loud crack, like a lightning bolt. Amelia was immediately thrown back up into the air. She tumbled to the ground and passed out.
It is very hard for Amelia to remember when she regained consciousness. People can usually remember the first face they see, but Amelia would never see again. She remembers feeling wet, drenched in her own blood, and hearing the voice of her grandmother -- praying between sobs. Most of all, she remembers the excruciating pain. Amelia lost her left leg, most of the fingers of her left hand and her eyesight. The account goes on to speak of her drive to live, but she cannot help wondering what is to become of her in a society that survives on physical labor. Despite her strong will, she knows she will always be a burden to her family, someone who eats but does not work. Amelia fell victim to an anti-personnel landmine, a silent killer hidden in the grass .
Amelia is by no means alone. Every month over 2,000 people are killed or maimed by mine explosions . Most are civilians killed or injured long after hostilities have come to an end. The toll comes not only in human life, however. Also crippled by widespread use of landmines are the fragile economies of war-torn nations. The devastation continues for decades, long after all the battles have ended and all the soldiers have left.
Landmines have overridden the bounds of military practice and have created a global crisis. A diverse community representing the whole spectrum of human talents and concerns is needed to combat the destruction. There is no better place to mount a full spectrum attack than at this university -- the University of Wisconsin - Madison. This university embraces the full range of future professionals and trains them to make a difference in the world. But before the university's role in addressing the Global Landmine Crisis can be presented, it is necessary to examine the military's justification for the use of landmines and the worldwide devastation wreaked by landmines.
The Military View of Landmines
A landmine is an explosive device left on the ground, or buried just beneath the surface. The two major categories of landmines are anti-personnel and anti-tank. Anti-personnel mines are triggered by a force as little as 5-10 pounds, while anti-tank mines are made to detonate under a vehicle .
Millions have been spent to advance their capabilities. Landmines are becoming easier to employ, harder to detect and nearly impossible to disarm. For example, landmines can now be delivered by remote means. A...