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Press Releases » Use of Landmines and Number of Casualties Decrease But Immense Challenges Remain

Global use of antipersonnel mines and the number of reported mine casualties have fallen, according to the 1,053-page Landmine Monitor Report 2005-the seventh annual report by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). International funding for mine action increased to $399 million in 2004, and 135 square kilometers of mine-affected land were cleared.

But immense challenges remain. Over 200,000 square kilometers of the world are likely contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO), and an estimated 15,000-20,000 people are maimed or killed by mines and UXO each year. The number of landmine survivors needing assistance continues to increase.

"At the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in November 2004, the global community re-affirmed its commitment to eradicating antipersonnel mines," said ICBL Ambassador Ms. Jody Williams, who shared the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize with the ICBL. "Although we are making great strides in our work to rid the world of this weapon, we need to do even more. We must continue to transform political commitments into concrete action to ensure that antipersonnel mines are removed within the 10-year treaty mandated deadline, and to ensure that landmine survivors receive the assistance they need," she said.

Since the last Landmine Monitor report, four countries joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, including Ethiopia, which is heavily mine-affected, as well as Bhutan, Latvia and Vanuatu. There are 147 States Parties to the treaty, and an additional seven countries have signed but not yet ratified. Forty countries remain outside the treaty, including China, Russia and the United States. The Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively prohibits use, production, and trade of antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled antipersonnel mines within four years, and requires clearance of mined areas within 10 years.

Use of antipersonnel mines around the world has continued to decrease. "Myanmar, Nepal and Russia deserve strong condemnation as the only governments to lay antipersonnel mines in 2005," said Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch, Landmine Monitor's Ban Policy Coordinator. In 2004, those same three countries used antipersonnel mines and there was also strong evidence of use by Georgian forces, though the government denies it.

Non-state armed groups are now the primary users of antipersonnel mines. This year's Landmine Monitor Report cites use of antipersonnel mines by such groups in 13 countries, compared to 16 in last year's report. Rebel use was especially widespread in Colombia, Myanmar (Burma) and Nepal. In a positive development, the Polisario Front in Western Sahara agreed to ban antipersonnel mines on 3 November 2005.

Landmine Monitor identifies 13 countries as producing or retaining the right to produce antipersonnel mines, a dramatic drop from over 50 mine-producing countries in the past. Egypt and Iraq were removed from the list of antipersonnel mine producers in this reporting period, due to new statements and information provided by those governments. The virtual cessation of global trade in antipersonnel mines has been maintained, as Landmine Monitor found no confirmed instances of antipersonnel mine transfers in the last year.

Destruction of antipersonnel mine stockpiles by States Parties has rid the world of some 400,000 mines since the last Landmine Monitor report. Seventy-one States Parties have completed stockpile destruction, including Algeria on 21 November 2005. In total, States Parties have destroyed more than 38.3 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines. Non-signatories to the treaty continue to hold an estimated 160 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines.

At least 84 countries are affected by landmines and/or unexploded ordnance, of which 54 are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. Countries with the largest mine-affected areas include Laos, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Cambodia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 2004, at least 135 square kilometers of mine-affected land were cleared. Afghanistan reported clearance of the largest amount of mined land (33.3 square kilometers), followed by Cambodia (32 square kilometers). At least 140,000 antipersonnel mines, 50,000 antivehicle mines, and some 3 million items of UXO were destroyed during clearance operations in 2004.

However, some States Parties appear not to be on course to meet their treaty-mandated deadlines for clearance of mined areas, including eight of the 14 States Parties with 2009 deadlines-Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, Croatia, Denmark, Niger, Swaziland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom (in respect of the Falklands)-as well as Cambodia with a deadline of 1 March 2010. "Comprehensive national plans and sustained funding are needed to ensure that all mine-affected areas are cleared as quickly and efficiently as possible," said Ms. Sara Sekkenes of Norwegian People's Aid and Research Coordinator for Mine Action.

Mine risk education (MRE) programs expanded in many countries and became better integrated with clearance and other mine action activities. Landmine Monitor recorded MRE in 61 countries, and 6.25 million people received MRE in 2004. No MRE activities were recorded in 25 mine-affected countries. "Resources are needed to ensure that MRE programs can continue to target those most at-risk from mines and UXO until mine clearance is complete," said Andy Wheatley of Handicap International and Research Coordinator for Mine Risk Education.

In 2004-2005, new landmine and UXO casualties were reported in 58 countries (eight less than the previous reporting period). Landmine Monitor identified over 6,521 reported new landmine/UXO casualties in 2004, compared to 8,065 in 2003. The number of reported new mine and UXO casualties has dropped significantly in some mine-affected countries. Given the lack of reliable records and under-reporting, Landmine Monitor estimates that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new landmine and UXO casualties each year.

"The number of landmine survivors continues to grow," said Sheree Bailey of Handicap International and the Research Coordinator for Victim Assistance. "The majority of an estimated 300,000-400,000 landmine survivors need ongoing access to medical care and socioeconomic reintegration services, and in too many countries these services are desperately inadequate to meet growing needs."

International mine action funding totaled US$399 million in 2004, up from $339 million in 2003, although much of this increase is due to the declining value of the US dollar. Of the 20 top donor countries, half provided more funding in 2004 as compared with 2003 and half provided less. Some 48 percent of the funding went to just three countries: Afghanistan ($92 million), Iraq ($59 million) and Cambodia ($42 million). "Norway had the highest per capita contribution to mine action in 2004 - $7.49 for each Norwegian citizen," said Ms. Jacqueline Hansen of Mines Action Canada and Landmine Monitor Project Manager. "However, it is not just resource levels which need to be sustained. Strong political commitment from both mine-affected and non-affected countries is required if states are to meet their obligations for mine clearance and assistance to survivors," Hansen said.

Landmine Monitor Report 2005: Toward a Mine-Free World contains information on landmine use, production, trade, stockpiling, demining, casualties and victim assistance in 112 countries and areas. The report is being released today in three thematic launches: Algiers (ban policy), Medellin (casualties and victim assistance), and Zagreb (mine action). On Monday, 28 November, the ICBL will present the report to diplomats attending the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Zagreb, Croatia.

The Landmine Monitor initiative is coordinated by an Editorial Board of four organizations: Mines Action Canada (the lead agency), Handicap International, Human Rights Watch and Norwegian People's Aid. A total of 77 Landmine Monitor researchers in 72 countries contributed to the report. This unique civil society initiative constitutes the first time that nongovernmental organizations have come together in a sustained, coordinated and systematic way to monitor and report on the implementation of an international disarmament or humanitarian law treaty.

The full Landmine Monitor report and related documents are available online now in various languages. Please email lm@icbl.org for the password. From 00:01 GMT on 23 November the report will be available online at www.icbl.org/lm/2005

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

  • ALGIERS, ALGERIA: Ms. Tamar Gabelnick, ICBL, +41-79-470-11-45, email tamar@icbl.org, or Mr. Ayman Sorour, Protection, +33-66-86-05-392
  • MEDELLÍN, COLOMBIA: Ms. Katleen Maes, +57-310-840-4331 and +32-494-32-9104, katleen.maes@handicap.be or Ms. Maria Clara Ucros, Campaña Colombiana contra Minas, +57-310-322-1576, email mariaclara@colombiasinminas.org
  • ZAGREB, CROATIA: Ms. Sylvie Brigot, ICBL, +33-06-07-17-27-76, email brigot@icbl.org
  • Jackie Hansen, Landmine Monitor Project Manager, Tel. +1-613-851-5436, email lm@icbl.org

22 Nov 2005

Jackie Hansen <jackieSPAMFILTER@icbl.org>