Fight Use of Land Mines with Interfaith Pilgrimage to City

Article excerpt

Byline: The Rev. Nancy H. Nyberg First Congregational Church

How long will it take to remove land mines from Bosnia?

Until land mines are removed, every trip to tend a field or visit a relative could destroy a leg, a hand or a life.

For some North Americans, such as those who enter conflict zones with relief organizations or the United Nations, the threat of land mines is personal. For their parents, friends and family, the threat of land mines is personal. For anyone who travels in El Salvador, Guatemala, Angola or many other countries, the destructive evidence of missing hands and legs is unavoidable.

My son, a naval officer who volunteered to do a tour in Cambodia with the United Nations, told me that the one thing he truly feared was land mines. The suffering of land mines is largely pointless. Let it end.

According to Kathryn Wolford, president of Lutheran World Relief, in the April 24 issue of Christian Century: "The UN estimates that it would take 1,000 mine clearers over 30 years to discover the 6 million mines scattered [in Bosnia.] Even if armed conflict does not resume, the mines will maim and kill people for years to come.

"Along the border shared by Zimbabwe and Mozambique, one million acres of agricultural land is left uncultivated due to the presence of land mines," she said.

Throughout the world, people have no choice but to live close to the land where they grow their food and gather firewood. Too often, their harvests cost body parts or even lives.

On June 6 through 9, the Interfaith Pilgrimage to Ban Land Mines will pass through Chicago on its way to Washington, D.C. On June 9, the pilgrimage will proceed from Uptown to Hyde Park with a rally at Buckingham Fountain at 1:30 p.m.

Why ban land mines? Already, according to U.N. estimates, there are more than 100 million land mines in 64 countries. Each year, 26,000 people are maimed or killed. About 29 percent of the victims are children under age 15.

The Interfaith Pilgrimage to Ban Land Mines joins many other religious and military groups urging that anti-personnel land mines be banned. …