Some groups are encouraging people to "lend a leg" this April 4 — to roll up a pant leg to show solidarity with land-mine victims.

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IT WAS A sobering sight across a sun-drenched plaza in Colombia with more than 9,000 shoes placed in a historic square, each shoe commemorating a land-mine victim in the South American country.

The art installation in the heart of Bogotá marked the International Day for Landmine Awareness, an annual event each April 4 to focus attention on those killed and maimed by land mines. Around the world, conferences, demonstrations — and art installations — are scheduled for this year’s mine-awareness day, supported by the United Nations.

Colombia, racked by decades of civil war, is second only to Afghanistan with the largest number of land-mine victims. They’re among dozens of countries struggling with the legacy of land mines, small but devastating concoctions of buried explosives that are triggered by a person or vehicle crossing them. Lying silent and deadly along roadsides and in open areas, they are meant to take down combatants. But long after the wars have ended, they blow off the legs of civilians, including children merely playing in fields.

Some organizations are encouraging people to “lend a leg” this April 4 — to roll up a pant leg to show solidarity with land-mine victims. So don’t be surprised if you notice that unusual fashion statement in far-flung places.

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Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times’ NWTraveler editor. Contact her at

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