GENEVA - A report released Thursday said that last year, nearly 7,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war planted by rebel forces in at least six countries in conflict: Afghanistan, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen.
The Landmine Monitor report provides an overview of developments in policies on banning mines and the production, trade and stockpiling of such weapons. This year’s edition, covering the 2018-19 period, was the 21st and looked back at efforts to fully implement the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which has 164 members and is considered by activists to be the most successful disarmament and humanitarian accord ever enacted.
Over the past two decades, they note, only one country has violated the accord. That was Yemen in 2012. This year, the report said, only Myanmar, which is not a party to the treaty, used anti-personnel mines.
Adherence to the treaty has resulted in a significant drop in the number of casualties, from 20,000 in 1999 to just a few thousand a year.
Improvised explosive devices
The Monitor, however, noted that in recent years, a spike in the use of improvised personnel mines and explosive devices by rebel forces has been driving casualty numbers up again.
Stephen Goose, the arms division director of Human Rights Watch, told VOA that Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Houthi rebels in Yemen have been responsible for most of the deaths and injuries.
"The diminution of ISIS's military power makes it much more likely that you will not have the same phenomenon occur anytime soon,” Goose said. “And we are very hopeful that if there is success in negotiating with the Taliban, part of that agreement will be a no-use-of-anti-personnel-mines clause."
Goose said the Afghan government is part of the Mine Ban Treaty and has committed itself to never using anti-personnel mines again. He noted that Taliban in the past had said they would not use landmines. Unfortunately, he added, the militant group has gone back on its pledge.
The Landmine Monitor said civilians accounted for about 70 percent to 80 percent of those killed or maimed by landmines last year. About half of the victims were children.