Before the global land mine ban in 1997, as many as 25,000 civilians lost their lives each year because of the explosive devices and thousands more were permanently injured. Far too often, those victims were innocent children walking to school, retrieving water, playing near these silent sentinels.
Since the ban, casualties have been cut by about 75%, but they still average around 6,500 a year.
The U.S. never fully participated in the global ban, and now the Trump administration has reversed a policy that kept U.S. forces from using anti-personnel land mines outside of the Korean peninsula. The new policy, issued Jan. 31, permits combat commanders to once again use the weapons in other areas of potential conflict because the restrictions had put American forces “at a severe disadvantage,” according to a White House statement. The U.S. has not deployed new land mines since 1991.