Princess Diana's anti-mine legacy
Hope remains that Angola visit may change landscape
September 10, 1997
Web posted at: 7:11 p.m. EDT (2311 GMT)
KUITO, Angola (CNN) -- The fighting in Angola's
two-decade-long civil war may be almost over, but for
civilians, the peace can still be perilous.
Millions of land mines, left behind as a stark reminder of
the conflict, litter the landscape. People walking down a
hill or going into the fields run the risk of stepping on a
mine and losing a limb.
The minefields of Angola were the focus of worldwide
attention when Princess Diana visited seven months ago,
beginning her work for the cause of banning land mines.
Wearing protective clothing, Diana watched workers from a
British-based de-mining organization, Halo Trust, clear some
of the 5,000 mines found so far around Kuito, believed to be
the most heavily mined city in the world.
She followed up her journey to Angola with a later visit to
war-torn Bosnia, championing the anti-mine cause until her
"Probably her greatest legacy has been the massive increase
in interest she has generated in this subject, which will
hopefully result in funding and adequate resources being
devoted to the whole issue," says Halo Trust director Paul
The princess also visited the International Red Cross'
prosthetic center at Huambo, Angola, where several hundred
mining victims have been fitted with artificial limbs and
taught how to use them.
"She had a really good touch with the patients," says Carl
Hefti, a Red Cross orthopedic technician. "She was really
involved with things. Some times, she was nearly crying. It
The Red Cross staff recall Princess Diana shooing away the
photographers for some private moments with the victims. She
even reached out to touch the stumps of their limbs in a rare
gesture of compassion -- a gesture not lost on the victims.
"All my friends still ask me, 'You saw Princess Diana. What
is she like?'" says Lissette Dominga, who lost a limb in a
mine accident and expresses surprise that someone as famous
as Diana would show interest in her. "I tell them she was so
friendly, so down to earth."
Heslop feels Diana's death was a major blow to the
ban-the-mines movement. But he expresses hope that her work
will not be quickly forgotten -- that, by her visit here, she
offered some hope that the landscape could literally be
Correspondent Peter Arnett contributed to this report.