With a `shelf life' up to 50 years, mines indiscriminately destroy limbs, lives and livelihoods. Fertile farmland is left uncultivated, roads abandoned, and water sources made unsafe.
Children are particularly vulnerable to the mines, most of which are triggered by pressure, even the light weight of a child, or by a trip-wire. Some kill or maim by explosive force, others spew metal fragments.
Afghanistan - with 9 to 10 million mines - has the distinction of being the world's most heavily mined country. Angola, with about 9 million, is a close second. Cambodia, where the 12-year civil war has left the countryside littered with 4 to 7 million mines, comes third in the lethal league table.
More than 362 types of land-mine are currently made in 55 countries.
Sixteen countries so far have announced comprehensive export moratoriums on anti-personnel land-mines.
Argentina Italy Belgium Japan Poland Canada Slovakia Czech Rep. South Africa France Spain Germany Sweden Greece United States Israel
In addition, the Netherlands and Switzerland have banned exports to states that are not adherents to Protocol II (the land-mine section) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
The Russian Federation and the United Kingdom have imposed an indefinite moratorium on the export of anti-personnel land-mines that do not self-destruct or self-neutralize.
Source: Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, February 1995.