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A killer of innocents.

IT was Princess Diana who first brought the plight of mine victims to the world's attention when she visited Angola months before her death in 1997.

Pictures showing her in a minefield wearing a flak jacket and visor proved one of her most enduring images.

Amputee and former model Heather Mills, wife of superstar Sir Paul McCartney, has also been campaigning against landmines since the 90s.

And today, Neil Morrissey is teaching children in particular about landmine awareness - beginning with Afghanistan, which is the worst mined country in the world.

Many are brightly coloured and so attract the attention of curious youngsters. Of most concern are America's yellow BLU-97s. They are the same sunny colour as the packets of biscuits dropped as humanitarian aid.

"Children playing out in fields think they are picking up a goody bag when, in effect, they are playing with their lives," says Neil.

When dropped, each of the so-called smart bombs contains 200 unguided bomblets, which are scattered across an area the size of two football pitches.

The BLUs - or Bomb Live Units - contain 500 grams of explosive, twice that of conventional mines and enough to take out vehicles and large troop concentrations.

In Afghanistan, sites at Bagram, Mazar, Kunduz, Kandahar and the Tora Bora - where the Taliban had strongholds - are the worst affected.

But it's not just Afghanistan which remains littered with mines. Countries such as Bosnia, Cambodia, the Lebanon, Angola and Sudan are also affected.

UK charity The Halo Trust is working in nine countries and has so far cleared one million mines and unexploded bombs worldwide.

"While the clearing operation is going on, it's so important to educate people not to stray into these areas or touch any object which could then blow up in their faces," adds Neil.

"That's what we at No Strings have set out to do."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:9AFGH
Date:Jun 23, 2003
Words:312
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