The consequences for children of explosive remnants of war: Land mines, unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices, and cluster bombs

J Pediatr Rehabil Med. 2009;2(3):217-27. doi: 10.3233/PRM-2009-0083.


Land mines are particularly a problem for children. The deaths and loss of body parts have been publicized, but the secondary effects - the loss or maiming of parents, the loss of physical and social space the loss of access to education, and the loss of cultivatable land with the resultant malnutrition and sickness, are less frequently considered. "Explosive Remnants of War" (ERW) is becoming the generic term to refer to land mines, unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs. The United Nations estimates that there are currently as many as 100 million unexploded landmines with an equal number stockpiled around the world waiting to be planted. Mines are designed to be difficult to locate and their clearance is costly. Children in at least 80 countries are at risk due to ERW. The type of mine, the proximity of the child to the explosion, and location of the mine in relation to the child's body are the important determinants of the nature and severity of the injury. Children are especially susceptible to picking up explosive remnants thinking they are toys. The result is commonly loss of the hands, facial injuries, blindness and deafness. Rehabilitation for these children is extremely difficult due to remoteness and the limited resources available.