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Campaigners against landmines have come up with an eye-catching way of drawing attention to the plight of victims of the devices.

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Handicap International and Action Mines Canada have built “shoe mountains” in Paris and Lyons in France, and in Ottawa in Canada.

The piles are supposed to represent people who lost feet or legs in land mine blasts and will never walk again.

A mountain of shoes is used to symbolise the plight of landmine victims.

Handicap International and Action Mines Canada built the shoe mountain here in Paris as part of their campaign to have anti-personnel mines banned throughout the world.

Children’s drawings of landmine explosions and their victims lent a particular poignancy to this demonstration near the Eiffel Tower.

The mountain represents the millions who’ve lost limbs to mines.

Shoe mountains were also built in the southern French city of Lyons and the Canadian city of Ottawa on Saturday.

Victims of anti-personnel mines often lose one or both feet in the explosion and never walk again.

Children also demonstrated the difficulties involved in walking through areas where mines have been buried.

A spokesman for Action Mines Canada described how he lost an arm and a leg while on a mine clearance mission in Mozambique.

“A couple of years ago I left Cambodia and moved across to Africa, and then last year my luck ran out when I was walking in a cleared area and I myself trod on an anti-personnel mine that was buried too deep to be picked up with a metal detector. It just happens occasionally. It’s an occupational hazard. I didn’t make a boo boo. Life goes on.”
SUPER CAPTION: Chris Moon, Action Mines Canada spokesman

He pointed out that mines continue to kill and maim, even when wars are over.

“Today, here in Paris this pile of shoes put here by Handicap International is to draw world, media and public attention to the fact that landmines are still killing and maiming on a massive scale. The problem is not getting any better. Landmines are different to other weapons because decades after the fighting stops, they go on killing and maiming, and it is this indiscriminate affect on the civil population that I think has led the majority of people to say this is wrong.”
SUPER CAPTION: Chris Moon, Action Mines Canada spokesman

A United Nations conference in Geneva last May, to which non-government organisations weren’t invited, failed to ban anti-personnel mines.

But groups like Handicap International and Action Mines Canada are hoping that an international conference in Ottawa next month will succeed where the Geneva conference failed.

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