An antipersonnel mine is an explosive charge that is buried under the soil and is activated when a person steps on it. These devious weapons first appeared in 18th century Germany, where they were known as Fladdermine. From that original, rather primitive design, anti-personnel mines have evolved into fine-tuned ruthless killers. They have been used by enemy forces in wars in over 92 countries and territories, often indiscriminately.
It is estimated that there are 55 million active mines scattered all over the world, causing death and serious injury to around 50 people each day. The situation is particularly dramatic in Africa, where nearly two-thirds of the explosions take place. It is also common for children to confuse the mines with toys. The methods used to identify, disarm and remove anti-personnel mines are both risky and time-consuming — and funding to undertake such projects is scarce.