Land mines pose serious threat to returning Kosovars
June 25, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. State Department official said Friday that unexploded land mines and NATO bombs in Kosovo make it "the world's most dangerous real estate," and could pose a serious threat to people in the province for the next five years.
Ambassador Don Steinberg, the U.S. special representative for global humanitarian de-mining, told reporters at a State Department briefing that reports indicate there may have been two dozen land mine explosions in recent weeks.
NATO peacekeeping troops are surveying minefields in Kosovo with the help of maps provided by Yugoslav forces and will eventually organize a clearance program.
More immediate steps involve putting up posters and broadcasting warnings on the radio to returning ethnic Albanian refugees.
International aid groups are also distributing comic books that warn children on the subject. Warnings about land mine dangers will also become integrated into school curriculums in the form of plays, songs and puppets.
Adding to the peril is the lack of functioning hospitals and other medical treatment facilities in Kosovo. As a result, some land mine injuries that should have been treatable have caused fatalities, U.S. officials said.
U.S. officials also fear that the problem will be further complicated by the increasing stream of international aid groups and peacekeepers on Kosovo's limited roadways in the months to come.
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