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New Report Shows Progress in Complying with Mine Ban Treaty

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines released its 2007 Monitor report Monday on the progress being made in the effort to rid the world of the weapons. The 1100 page report looks at compliance and implementation of the 1997 mine ban treaty and finds good overall progress, but with some states “not on course” to meet mine clearance deadlines.

Jackie Hansen is with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA’s Joe De Capua about the overall findings of the report.

“The findings are quite good actually. They’re showing that the treaty is really taken hold. We’re seeing that there are fewer causalities. There’s more mine clearance and…more countries are starting to embrace the treaty. So, this is very good news overall,” she says.

Hansen adds, “If we look at 10 years ago, there were upwards of 50 countries that were producing mines. That number is down to 13. Ten years ago there was a significant trade in mines. That’s now almost non-existent…. Ten years ago there was very little mine clearance. And we’ve seen funding for mine clearance continue to increase. This year we recorded the high levels of funding ever for mine action. And we’re finally starting to see casualties, or at least recorded casualties, come down. And much of this we attribute to the mine ban treaty.”

Despite the progress, Hansen says it’s no time to be complacent because there’s much work to do still. She says, however, it’s difficult to get an exact figure on the number of people killed of maimed by landmines each year.

She says, “We know that in 2006 there were 5, 751 recorded casualties. Now, we know that this is far fewer casualties than there actually are. And this is because of a lack of reporting in many places. So, we’re looking at upwards of almost 6,000 recorded casualties. We can almost double or triple that and that’s probably what the truer number is.

The report says time is running short for 29 countries with “treaty-mandated clearance deadlines in 2009 and 2010.” Although the countries were given 10 years to comply with the treaty, 14 “are almost certain not to meet their 2009 deadlines.” This includes Chad, Niger, Senegal and Zimbabwe.”

But Hansen says in Africa, “We’ve seen excellent progress in terms of mine clearance in places such as Mozambique, where some programs have actually wrapped up their mine clearance because so much progress has been made. We’re seeing very few mines being laid. What the problem is now is clearing the remaining mines and making sure that survivors receive the assistance that they need, because they’ll need assistance for the rest of their lives.”

She says the use of landmines in Africa has declined, including in Sudan. However, she says, “We have one concern, which is an allegation of a transfer of mines from Eritrea and Ethiopia to Somalia. That’s been very concerning, but we haven’t been able to have definitive proof of this.”