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May 5, 1999

WASHINGTON D.C. -- As the world gathers in Maputo, Mozambique to celebrate the treaty to ban land mines, several nations, including the United States, are still refusing to participate in the treaty. Today, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA-4th), Ranking Member of the International Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights, urges President Clinton to sign the pact and stop the senseless killings of innocent civilians.

"The U.S. must take the lead in ridding the world of these deadly devices," says Congresswoman McKinney. "The treaties effectiveness is not lost without the participation of the U.S., however, America's effectiveness is diminished as the world passes us by on this issue. Landmines are made to kill and maim people."

It is estimated that there are roughly 360 million land mines in the world, 110 of them which are scattered in countries around the world and about 250 million that are kept in stock. Every 22 minutes, a woman, man, or child is killed or maimed by a land mine. Africa has the most land mines of any continent, with an estimated 50 million. The mines kill about 20,000 people a year, injure hundreds of thousands more, and have destroyed acres of usable land that could be used to grow crops.

The United States has refused to ratify the Ottawa Convention, which bans land mines, because the U.S. maintains that the land mines are needed on the Korean peninsula to deter an invasion from North Korea. Russia, Iraq, Libya, Cuba, China, India, and Pakistan are among the other countries refusing to sign the land-mine treaty. The treaty requires it participants to destroy all stockpiles of mines within four years and clear all mines on their territory within 10 years.

"The United States ought to get out in front on this one to avoid being steamrolled by the global community it professes to lead," concludes Congresswoman McKinney.

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