TEXT by Deutsche Welle (Link)
One would think that a mechanical device capable of making a minefield safe quickly and with virtually no risk to human life would be pounced on by international organisations like the UN. But that has not been the case with the Krohn Mine Clearing System, invented by 73 year-old former forester Walter Krohn of Masburg in western Germany. Instead, politics has prevented his dream of clearing the world of landmines. Hundreds of millions of landmines lie buried in the soil of mostly poor nations, where political battles often flare into armed power struggles. Every year, 30 thousand people are maimed or killed by mines, many of them women and children who work or play in the open fields. Krohn's system is based on the wood-clearing machine he used as a forester, with extra shielding for both machine and operator. The tractor-like vehicle rolls up and down the field, its blades digging into the soil, detonating landmines and unexploded artillery shells. The system is not only safer than sending out people with hand-operated minesweepers, it's also faster and cheaper. After successful tests in 1996, Krohn thought he had done the world a great service. But he did not reckon with the importance of the UN-sponsored jobs that went along with old-fashioned mine-clearing projects. Wherever there is a serious landmine problem, governments often prefer the employment opportunities offered by the dangerous hand-sweeping operations - in which around a dozen people die worldwide every month - to the more efficient Krohn machines.