The number of victims of anti-personnel mines increased by more than 50% last year, notably due to their use in Myanmar and following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to the Landmine Monitor’s annual report published on Tuesday. .
The report, which serves as a basis for the regular work of the 164 states and territories parties to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition and Elimination of Anti-Personnel Mines, notes that during the documented period (2022 and first half of 2023) , these explosive devices were used by Ukraine, a state party to the treaty, and by Myanmar and Russia, non-parties to the treaty.
This year, the Observatory added Armenia to its list of countries that produce antipersonnel mines, bringing the list to a total of 12 states (including China and Russia), none of which are parties to the treaty.
According to the report, 4,710 people were injured or killed by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in 49 states and two other territories last year, compared to 5,544 in 2021. last year of “significant gaps” in data collection in Afghanistan, explained one of the people responsible for the report, Mark Hiznay, at a press conference.
More specifically, the number of people killed or injured by mines has “increased by a little more than 50%”, going from 414 in 2021 to 628 in 2022, another expert Loren Persi told AFP, who also participated in the report.
“This increase in landmine casualties is mainly due to the use of mines in Burma,” he explained, using the former name of Myanmar.
Data for Ukraine have not yet been sufficiently disaggregated to distinguish victims of landmines from other munitions due to the complexity of the ongoing conflict situation, but there have been a “massive increase in victims of all types in Ukraine”, underlined the expert.
Antipersonnel mines are explosive devices that continue to kill and maim people long after conflicts have ended. Buried or hidden on the ground, they explode when a person approaches them or comes into contact with them.
Syria and Ukraine
According to the report, 60 countries and other territories are contaminated by antipersonnel mines, including 33 state parties that have mine clearance obligations.
For the third year in a row, Syria, a State not party to the treaty, had the highest number of new victims (834) of anti-personnel mines or explosive remnants of war, followed by Ukraine, a State party to the treaty, which recorded a total of 608 new victims.
This is followed by Yemen and Myanmar, which each recorded more than 500 new victims in 2022.
In Ukraine, the number of civilian victims increased tenfold compared to 2021.
The Observatory underlines that “Russia has massively used antipersonnel mines in Ukraine since it invaded the country in February 2022”, specifying that this is an unprecedented situation in which a country which is not not party to the Mine Ban Treaty uses this weapon on the territory of a State Party.
There is also “credible evidence that Ukrainian government forces used antipersonnel mines in violation of the treaty in and around the town of Izium in 2022, when the town was under Russian control,” Hiznay noted.
Katrin Atkins, another expert who participated in the report, explained that Ukraine had requested a ten-year extension of its demining deadline in March. This request will be discussed during the 21e meeting of States parties to the treaty to be held at the UN in Geneva from November 20 to 24.
States are not the only ones to use these explosive devices.
Non-state armed groups used antipersonnel mines in at least five countries during the documented period, in Colombia, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Tunisia, according to the Observatory.