Commitment Needed to Eliminate Unexploded Ordnance

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, has issued a call for the elimination of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in countries that have been involved in armed conflicts.

According to a communiqué issued by the pontifical council, on October 18 Cardinal Martino met with Heidi Kuhn, founder of the international Roots of Peace organization, which is based in the U.S. and concerns itself with the "Mines for Vines" campaign, an undertaking that aims to transform minefields into farmland.

"Every 30 minutes," the communiqué reads, "a person is killed or maimed by UXO in countries that have been theaters of war. Every year 20,000 civilians are killed or injured because of the explosion of mines or cluster munitions. This cruel type of weaponry does not discriminate between civilians and combatants; it is designed to inflict maximum suffering and not always to kill."

UXO, the communiqué goes on, "prolongs fear among the civilian population and often accentuates their dependence on aid from the international community. According to estimates, planting a mine costs $3, while removing it costs $1,000. There are some 70 million mines in areas of some 70 countries of the world."

In the meeting, Cardinal Martino underlined the need "to increase commitment, particularly at the local level, to free the world from the dangers of UXO, which causes so much suffering and death in countries that seek to reestablish an order of justice and peace following the atrocities of a conflict."

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