Handicap International is calling for a renewed effort to rid the world of landmines, to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness on April 4.
The organization is urging all States to join the Mine Ban Treaty immediately and to end to the scourge of these indiscriminate weapons, which continue to kill and injure civilians long after a conflict is over.
Fifteen years since the Mine Ban Treaty was signed, the world still bears witness to the death or injury of one person every two hours due to an accident with a mine or explosive remnant of war. Of the recorded victims, 75% are civilians and one third are children. More than 500,000 survivors of these accidents need assistance, including prosthetics, orthotics and rehabilitation, for life.
In 2011, for the first time in seven years, the number of countries using mines increased to a worrying extent. Four countries used landmines, compared with one in 2010. These countries were Libya (February 2011), Israel (August 2011), Myanmar (regular use) and Syria (November 2011).
“This resurgence in the use of anti-personnel mines is unacceptable and particularly worrying,” explains Paul Vermeulen, Advocacy and Institutional Relations Manager at Handicap International. “We are asking States parties to the convention to unequivocally condemn all new uses of anti-personnel mines and to take all possible steps to prevent countries from resorting to these weapons.”
Landmines contaminate 85 countries and territories—terrorizing local populations. The world's poorest countries are also the worst affected. In addition to the terrible suffering they inflict on their victims, anti-personnel mines place a major block on the social and economic development of these countries, preventing the cultivation of land and limiting the movement of people and goods long after conflicts have ended.
Not all landmines are hidden under foot. More than 170 million anti-personnel mines are still stockpiled in dumps in 40 countries, mainly by states that have not signed the mine ban convention.
Handicap International's Fight Against Landmines
To help civilians return to their normal lives, Handicap International has been operating in the field every day for nearly 30 years. Our work includes:
• Demining (In Mozambique, our teams are helping the country become mine-free by 2014!)
• Risk education (In Libya, we've taught more than 45,000 people, including 20,000 children, the dangers associated with explosive remnants of war.)
• Victim assistance
For 20 years, Handicap International has also campaigned on the international stage to enforce a ban on anti-personnel mines. In 1992, it joined forces with five other NGOs to form the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). For more than five years, Handicap International and other members of the ICBL intensified their efforts to increase the general awareness of the atrocities caused by these weapons.
This unprecedented civil society campaign, combined with direct action targeted at governments, led to the signing of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction on December 3, 1997.
On December 10 of the same year, Handicap International was made a co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize with the other member organizations of the ICBL.
Since the convention entered into force:
- 20 countries have completed their demining programs and more than 2,485 square miles of the world's land has been decontaminated,
- 90 million anti-personnel mines that were stockpiled in arms dumps have been destroyed,
- More than 90% of countries are states parties to the Ottawa convention (159). However, 35 countries have yet to sign the Mine Ban Convention, including China, the United States, Russia and India.
Your Fight Against Landmines
We need more people to help Handicap International fight the use and stockpiling of these weapons!