Mahmud Hassani and his brother Massoud grew up near the Afghanistan border, dangerously playing around fields with buried landmines.
Left with the memory of the destruction caused by landmines buried in the 1980s – when Afghan rebels fought Soviet forces – the two brothers now live in the Netherlands and have developed a drone prototype to detect and destroy landmines.
“For us it was normal. For us it was a playground with landmines,” Mahmud Hassani recently told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, recalling the patch of land near his childhood home where he and others would play.
Approximately 10 million landmines have been planted in Afghanistan. The region recorded the highest number of mine-related casualties in the world in 2015, with 1,310 people killed or wounded.
According to statistics from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, some 6,461 people were killed or injured by mines, victim-activated explosive devices and unexplored weapons left behind after war across the world in 2015. More than three quarters of the victims were civilians, and 38 per cent were children.
Hassani said their drone prototype is up to 120 times cheaper and 20 times faster than traditional mine clearing techniques. For more information on this story, please click here.