VFA’s Campaign for a Landmine Free World has, for more than a decade, worked to raise awareness about the suffering and devastation caused by landmines by advocating for a global ban on antipersonnel landmines. The worldwide anti-landmine movement co-founded by VFA president Bobby Muller in 1991 grew into the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and led to the Ottawa Treaty banning antipersonnel landmines and to the Nobel Peace Prize, both in 1997. In addition, VFA’s international humanitarian programs assist innocent civilian victims of war and conflict in 14 war-torn countries by providing physical and social rehabilitation services as well as identifying landmine clearance and other public health priorities.
Long after conflicts end and treaties are signed, landmines continue to kill and maim innocent civilians. In fact, each year more than 18,000 men, women, and children lose arms, legs, even their lives to landmines. Hundreds of mines may lie hidden between villagers’ homes and their sources of food and water, forcing them to risk their lives each day or face certain death by hunger or thirst. And, ironically, landmines are no longer even an effective weapon of war.
VFA has fitted hundreds of thousands of prosthetic limbs in countries around the world, and we continue to provide rehabilitation to the victims, as well as periodic repairs to the limbs. Adapting to the needs, conditions and resources of each country where we are at work, our programs also provide patients with job training and employment, helping them regain independence and self-respect as well as mobility. Our own experiences have taught us that rehabilitating war victims means more than rebuilding their bodies; it also means helping them rebuild their lives.
Concerts for a Landmine Free World bring together on stage some of the most distinguished voices and finest singers-songwriters of our time to share songs and stories and help raise public awareness about the global landmine tragedy. Many of the artists who give of their time and resources to help VFA have traveled overseas to tour our rehabilitation clinics, meet with international staff and clinic patients and experience first-hand how silk scarves are hand-woven on wooden looms at the Preah Vihear clinic in northern Cambodia. The family of musicians who today champion the landmine cause was formed in 1998 by Grammy Award winner Emmylou Harris, following her trip with VFA President Bobby Muller to Cambodia and Vietnam.Click here for information on VFA’s Information Management & Mine Action Programs (iMMAP).
Recent VFA briefings of high-level civilian and military leaders on what we have learned about landmines indicate growing credibility and acceptance of the following points:
- Landmines had no tactical or strategic significance in the Gulf War;
- The U.S. military has no plans to use its landmine stocks in the initial defense of U.S. troops in Korea;
- The U.S. military has better alternative weapons and doctrine to meet any envisioned threat; and
- Landmines can be replaced with lighter, more lethal, and smarter antipersonnel and anti-armor weapons, reasserting U.S. leadership on the landmine issue.