Robert Semeniuk

Wazir Hammond, age 9, rests against a wall of sandbags that protects the Orthopaedic Centre, Wazir Hospital, Kabul, Afghanistan, from Taliban rockets, shelling and bombs, 1995. But there’s little protection when 5 kilograms of foot pressure detonates an anti-personnel land mine containing about 240 grams of TNT. The explosion shreds the trigger leg, macerates skin and muscle, and fires bone fragments, clothing, shoe, dirt and debris deep up into that leg, and often into the genitals, arms and eyes of the victim.
A land mine is ten times more likely to kill a civilian after the conflict than a combatant during it. In 1995, an estimated 10 million land mines polluted nearly 500 square kilometres of land in Afghanistan. The United Nations estimates that removing all of the world’s active mines would cost between $33 billion and $85 billion.
Wazir requires prosthesis refittings every six months, but the land mine requires refitting of his whole life. In agrarian or pastoral societies, where limbs are survival tools, disabled people are often stigmatized as those who eat but produce nothing. “Learning to live with land mines—their presence and their effect—is vital for everyone, but especially children,” says Robert.

Robert Semeniuk, M.A., has been a full-time, freelance author, photojournalist, human and environmental activist for nearly thirty years. He has worked for most of the world’s major magazines in over eighty countries and a dozen war zones. His work is used by numerous government and non-government organizations including: United Nations agencies; the International Committee of the Red Cross (Geneva); the International Committee to Ban Landmines; the World Health Organization; David Suzuki Foundation; and Orbis Canada.
Robert commits many months to each of his projects. He spent over two years working exclusively on the global landline crisis, and the plight of War-Affected Children has enraged him for much of his career. He has degrees in Environmental Studies (Cultural Ecology) and Human Geography. His graduate research introduced him to Canada’s Inuit.
He has earned more than forty award nominations, including multiple top honours in National Magazine Awards, The Science Writers Association and The Canadian Association of Journalists. He is a founder of On The Ground, a tax exempt organization dedicated to helping documentary photographers fund and present important work.