New report: Sharp rise in landmine and explosive remnants casualties
For the third year running, mines and explosive remnants of war caused a dramatic increase in new casualties. Today’s Landmine Monitor 2017 report counts at least 8,605 people killed or injured by such weapons in 2016, compared with 3,450 in 2013. Heavy casualties in conflict zones in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen fuelled the 150% increase.
The Landmine Monitor measures the impact of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines, for the period December 2016 to November 2017, when possible. It's produced by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was co-founded by six NGOs, including Handicap International.
“We’ve stepped back in time,” says Jeff Meer, Executive Director of Handicap International in the U.S. “With 8,650 people injured and killed in 2016, mines have caused casualty numbers equivalent to those recorded by the very first Landmine Monitor in 2000. To see such a sharp increase after 15 years of steady decline is unacceptable. War does not justify everything. The Ottawa Treaty, the Oslo Convention banning cluster munitions, the Geneva Conventions, and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons are meant to protect civilians. It is the responsibility of all States to champion these rules, apply them and to ensure they are enforced.”
The Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty happens in Vienna, Austria from Dec. 18-22. Ahead of this important gathering, Handicap International is calling on States to enforce international humanitarian law and to pressure belligerent parties to end the use of these barbaric weapons.
This year’s Monitor reveals that the number of new casualties of anti-personnel mines - factory-made or improvised - and explosive remnants of war increased by almost 25% in one year, up from 6,967 casualties in 2015.
This is the largest number of casualties recorded by the Landmine Monitor since the publication of its first annual report in 2000 (9,228 casualties recorded in 1999). The number of new casualties increased for the third year running after 15 years of almost steady decline.
Other key findings include:
- 78% of casualties were civilians in 2016, of whom 42% were children.
- Highest number of child casualties of these weapons and casualties of improvised mines (explosive devices produced by belligerent parties acting as anti-personnel mines) since the first Landmine Monitor report in 2000.
- Improvised mines caused 1,805 casualties in 2016, including 1,180 casualties recorded in Afghanistan alone.
- In 2016, the majority of new casualties of anti-personnel mines - factory-made or improvised – and explosive remnants of war were recorded in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.
- Mine casualties were recorded in 56 States and territories around the world.
The Landmine Monitor confirmed new uses of anti-personnel mines by government forces in Myanmar and Syria between October 2016 and October 2017. Non-State groups also used anti-personnel mines, including improvised mines, in at least nine countries: Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.
These uses have caused high-level contamination that will endanger the lives of thousands of people over the long-term. A total of 61 States and territories have been contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war around the world. Handicap International is calling on States to support mine risk education, mine clearance and victim assistance programs, which are absolutely necessary for these countries and territories.
“Anti-personnel mines are, by their very nature, ‘cowardly weapons,’ Meer explains. “They have a serious and lasting impact on casualties: the explosive charge is very often designed to tear off its victim’s leg. Mines kill and cause complex injuries and serious psychological trauma. The onset of disability caused by mines—most often following the amputation of a lower limb—is often accompanied by social stigmatization, making it difficult for the victim to return to normal life.”
“This alarming surge in the use of mines has caused a high level of contamination in several countries,” Meer adds. “That pollution requires the expertise of mine clearance experts for years to come, and demands enhanced victim assistance programs.”
The Ottawa Treaty bans the acquisition, production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines. The treaty was opened for signing on Dec. 3, 1997. It entered into force on March 1, 1999. A total of 163 States have signed it to date and 162 States are party to the treaty. On Dec. 13, Sri Lanka deposited notification that it has acceded to the treaty.
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has worked in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 35 years. Working alongside persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups, our action and testimony are focused on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions, and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since it was founded in 1982, Handicap International has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. The network of eight national associations (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States) works constantly to mobilize resources, jointly manage projects and to increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Handicap International is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 and the winner of the Conrad N. Hilton Award in 2011. Handicap International takes action and campaigns in places where living in dignity is no easy task.