WASHINGTON - Fewer people were killed or wounded by landmines over the past year than at any time since recordkeeping began in 1999, and production of the weapons has almost stopped, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in a new report on Wednesday.
The drop in casualties caused by landmines, victim-activated explosive devices and unexploded weapons left behind after war came despite the spread of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe over the past year.
The Nobel-prize-winning group said in its annual Landmines Monitor that 3,308 people were killed or wounded by mines and other explosive war debris over the past year, nearly a quarter less than the 4,325 in the previous year.
The casualty rate of nine people per day is down from 25 per day in 1999, when the international Mine Ban Treaty went into effect.
"While far too many people are still losing their lives and limbs to landmines, new casualties are at their lowest level ever recorded, possibly the best measure of how successful the Mine Ban Treaty has been," said Megan Burke, an editor at the Landmine Monitor, the campaign's research arm.
The report said the new use of anti-personnel landmines by government troops had been confirmed in Syria and Myanmar between September 2013 and October 2014 as well as military forces in the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists has provoked allegations of landmine use and the presence of landmine stocks have been documented, but the report said the group had not been able to determine whether mines had been used in the conflict or by whom.
Militant groups used anti-personnel mines or similar improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen, the report said.
Casualties due to landmines and other explosive war remains more than tripled in Syria over the past year compared to the previous year, it said.
Syria and Myanmar are not parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, which has been accepted by 162 countries. The United States, Russia, China and India also have not agreed to the treaty.
Washington announced this year it would ban landmine use everywhere except the Korean Peninsula, a move it said signaled its intent to eventually accede to the treaty.