A few months ago, 62-year-old Todor Jankovic was gathering wood when he accidentally activated a land mine. Designed to explode two feet above the ground, the device miraculously failed and fell at his feet. He still can’t believe his luck.
Jankovic and his wife have been living in Skipovac Donji, a small village in northeast Bosnia and Herzegovina, for nearly ten years. A few steps behind their house, red banners marked with white skulls designate mine-infested areas. Almost two decades after the end of the war, the country remains under the threat of more than 120,000 land mines buried in the ground along former front lines. A total of 1732 people have been involved in land mine accidents since the war’s end. Six hundred have died.
“My son Mato has grown up with mines,” says Jana Spionjak, who lives an hour’s drive north, in Grebnice. Here, children are taught to look out for mines when they go play near the woods. But no matter how cautious residents are, the risk is always present. Spionjak’s husband was killed instantly when he stepped on a mine last September. Mato, their 17-year-old son was seriously injured.