|Queen Noor of Jordan with Colombian children whose lives have been affected by landmines. The Queen will be attending the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World|
BOGOTA/NEW YORK, 28 October 2004 – Four weeks ahead of the World Summit on Landmines in Nairobi, Kenya, Queen Noor of Jordan visited Colombia to meet with children maimed by landmines. Her visit helped mark the destruction of the government’s landmine stockpiles. Some 23,000 mines were destroyed in a simultaneous explosion at the capital Bogota and the northern city of Barranquilla.
“I am committed [to banning landmines] because of the injustice I see, because of the obstacles to peace and human development,” says Queen Noor.
The south-west Colombian department of Cauca, one of the stops on the Queen’s trip, is one of the areas worst affected by landmines. Children account for half of the 126 deaths recorded there since 1992.
One 13-year-old boy told the Queen how he lost part of his foot when he started playing with an unexploded mine on his way home from school. His eight-year-old brother was killed and two other children also lost their legs in this horrific incident. Another nine-year-old described how he lost his hand when he picked up a grenade he found in his school yard. Children are often attracted by the intriguing and colourful appearance of ordnance and cannot read signs telling them to stay away.
Speaking about the upcoming landmine summit meeting, the Queen said: “I will try to convey a message to the summit in Nairobi that will perhaps, in some measure, focus on what I have seen in Colombia and the special challenges that are faced here and that are in many ways universal for all mine-affected countries.”
In many countries, children account for one in five landmine victims.
“No one child should be the casualty of landmines,” says Queen Noor. “They are the most innocent of victims. They are the ones who, when injured, require more expensive medical care and rehabilitation over a longer period of time.”
In spite of the Colombian government’s commitment to disposing of landmines, the problem continues because of the on-going conflict in parts of the country.
About the Nairobi Summit