Objectives: The purpose of this study was to describe the injuries sustained by displaced people returning home after a military conflict when landmines were not removed.
Method: This study describes the landmine injuries to patients at the Jaffna Teaching Hospital in northern Sri Lanka over a 20-month period, from May 1, 1996, to December 31, 1997.
Results: There were definite and identifiable landmine injury patterns. Patients were most often wounded in the lower extremities, had multiple wounds, and were injured together in groups. Victims were most often male, but there were unusually high numbers of women, children, and elderly injured. Mortality rates and amputation rates were high. Deaths occurred early after injury. Higher incidences of mine injuries could be associated with two important activities: returning home and agriculture.
Conclusions: Civilians returning home after armed conflicts are at risk of injury when landmines are not removed. No one is spared. This problem is preventable.