Russia and Myanmar are the only two countries that have used antipersonnel mines this year, according to the latest annual report from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
Neither country is among the 164 states that are party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
The ICBL is a global coalition of non-governmental organizations chaired by Human Rights Watch that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. The report ‘Landmine Monitor 2022’ is being presented this week at the Mine Ban Treaty annual meeting at the United Nations in Geneva.
The report says that at least 277 people have been killed or maimed by antipersonnel landmines this year in Ukraine.
Russian forces have mined vast areas since his invasion of Ukrainian territory in February. Visiting demining teams, working in the newly liberated areas around Kherson on November 16, unearthed explosive devices. Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Meri Akopyan described the magnitude of the problem.
“We understand that Ukraine is the most contaminated country in the world. Right now, we have more than 200,000 square kilometers that have not been checked or cleared yet. It is only liberated territories. We still have a lot of unaccounted occupied territories at the moment,” Akopyan told reporters.
Russia has deployed mines by hand, dropped from aircraft, and by artillery and rocket fire, according to Mary Wareham, arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch and editor of the report.
“Russian forces have used at least seven types of antipersonnel landmines since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. There is also some evidence that victim-activated improvised explosive devices have been used. And they are subject to the prohibition of the international treaty that prohibits landmines,” Wareham told the voice of america.
Russia has not responded to the report. Moscow does not deny the use of antipersonnel mines.
The Myanmar military has consistently used antipersonnel mines since the first Landmine Monitor report was published 24 years ago.
“There has been increased use of antipersonnel mines by government forces in Myanmar around telecommunication towers, oil pipelines and other energy facilities, as well as some use by non-state armed groups in Myanmar,” Wareham added.
The report ‘Landmine Monitor 2022’ points out that antipersonnel mines are still buried in at least 60 countries. Globally, there were more than 5,500 new victims of landmines or explosive remnants during 2021, including more than 2,000 deaths. When age was recorded, half of those killed or maimed were children.
Syria recorded the highest number of casualties with more than 1,200. In Afghanistan, there were more than 1,000 new landmine victims.
The report says that non-state armed groups have recently used anti-personnel mines in the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and India, as well as in Myanmar. These mainly consist of improvised explosive devices.
Landmines continue to pose a danger in Yemen, even in areas where fighting between Houthi rebels and government forces has ceased. Ahmed Al-Marouai lost his son Mourad in January. The nine-year-old boy stepped on a land mine while combing the beach for rubbish to sell, near the Yemeni city of Hodeidah.
“I wrapped parts of his body in a blanket and took it all to the Criminal Investigation Department. I didn’t wash him or put him in a shroud. [de entierro]. I only buried parts of it in a plastic bag,” Al-Marouai told Agence France-Presse.
Mine Ban Treaty
The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty bans the use of antipersonnel mines and requires countries to destroy stockpiles, clear mine-affected areas, and assist victims. The report says that 94 states have destroyed a total of more than 55 million landmines from their reserves since the agreement came into force.
The United States is not a party to the treaty. However, President Joe Biden announced in June that the administration’s goal was to finally come together. Also pledged to limit the use of antipersonnel mines in most parts of the world.
In a statement at the time, the White House said landmines have a “disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after fighting has stopped.”
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Russia and Myanmar the only States using landmines in 2022