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Table of Contents
Country Reports
ASIA-PACIFIC, Landmine Monitor Report 1999

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COUNTRY REPORTS

ASIA AND PACIFIC

- REGIONAL OVERVIEW -

For the purposes of this report, those countries who have consented to be bound by the Mine Ban Treaty, but have not yet completed the six-month waiting period, are included in the States Parties Section.

MBT Signature and Ratification

Of the thirty-nine countries of the Asia-Pacific region (which stretches from Afghanistan in the west to the islands of the Pacific in the east), eighteen have signed the Mine Ban Treaty.

The signatories include: Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Niue, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Thailand, and Vanuatu.

The non-signatories include: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), China, India, Kiribati, North Korea, South Korea, Laos, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Nepal, Pakistan, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vietnam.

Of the eighteen signatories, as of 31 March 1999, only eight had ratified the treaty. In chronological order, they are: Niue, Fiji, Samoa, Japan, Thailand, Australia, Solomon Islands, and New Zealand.

APM Use

No evidence was found of continued use of AP mines by treaty signatories. It is highly likely that opposition forces in Cambodia used mines in 1998, but the government denies that it has used AP mines since signing the treaty.

Of the non-signatories, use continues on a near daily basis in Burma by both the military government and a variety of armed ethnic groups. The Sri Lankan Army and the rebel Tamil Tigers (LTTE) continue to lay antipersonnel mines. The opposition forces in Afghanistan acknowledge ongoing use of AP mines, while there are unconfirmed reports of recent use by the Taliban.

APM Production and Export

Eight of the 16 remaining antipersonnel mine producers in the world are located in this region: Burma, China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Those who have stopped APM production, either as a result of the treaty or domestic policies, include Japan, Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand.

No country in the region is believed to be a current exporter of antipersonnel mines. Former exporters Pakistan and Singapore have formal export moratoria in place, while former exporters China and Vietnam have publicly stated that they are not currently exporting. No other Asia/Pacific country is known to have exported in the past, but it is worth noting that India and South Korea have announced formal export moratoria. Burma and North Korea have no export restrictions in place.

APM Stockpiles

China, with an estimated 110 million antipersonnel mines, is believed to have the largest APM stockpile in the world. India, with an estimated 4-5 million APMs, and South Korea, with an estimated 2 million APMs, also have some of the world’s biggest holdings of mines.

Few countries in this region have started destroying antipersonnel mines. The Philippines has completed destruction of its mines (2,460 Claymore mines). New Zealand destroyed its small stockpile of mines in 1996, and retains only command-detonated Claymore mines. Cambodia has destroyed some 72,000 APMs. Japan is developing a plan for the destruction of the one million APMs in its stockpile.

Every country of the region is thought to have antipersonnel mine stockpiles except for New Zealand, the Philippines, Bhutan, Maldives, Papua New Guinea (Claymore only), the Pacific island states, and possibly Nepal.

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Cambodia and Afghanistan are considered among the most mine-affected countries in the world. In Afghanistan, 146 square kilometers of land have been cleared of mines, but another 713 square kilometers await demining. Casualties in Afghanistan are estimated at 10-12 per day, about half of the 1993 estimate. In Cambodia, 148 square kilometers of land have been cleared; another 644 square kilometers is known to be mined and 1,400 square kilometers is suspected to be mined. There were 1,249 mine casualities in 1998, about one- third of estimates from several years ago.

The China-Vietnam border was heavily mined, but both sides have been conducting demining operations, with China claiming to have cleared more than 100 square kilometers of land in 1998 and early 1999. A new demining operation is getting underway in Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province, its most seriously affected area. Thailand’s border with Cambodia is also heavily mined, but the Thai have yet to initiate a major demining program. There is a serious problem with mines in Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula, but a UNDP mine action program is being established there. Laos continues to be severely infested with unexploded ordnance from the Indochina Wars, as well as mines; clearance efforts are expanding with 159 hectares of land cleared in 1997 and 239 hectares in 1998 (through October). Burma has a problem with mines on its borders with Thailand and Bangladesh, but no systematic demining has taken place. Bangladesh, M alaysia, India, Pakistan, North Korea and South Korea have slight problems with mines, mostly in border areas.

Japan and Australia are among the leading mine action donors in the world. Japan has provided about $39 million (including $8.65 million in 1998 alone), and Australia about $23 million.