Global landmine casualties remain high as funding drops

Young Afghan victims of war outside their ward at the Emergency Surgical Center for Civilian War Victims in Kabul in December 2019. Nine-year-old Eimal, right, lost his right eye and several fingers in a landmine blast. Keystone

Landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) killed or injured at least 5,554 people around the world last year, according to the Landmine Monitor 2020External link, published in Geneva on Thursday.

This content was published on November 12, 2020 - 12:59

The number of victims remains high, even if it has decreased in recent years – from 6,897 in 2018, 7,253 in 2017 and 9,439 in 2016. Civilians accounted for the vast majority of casualties (80%) and children represented nearly half of all civilian casualties (43%).

Most of the victims were in Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, Mali and Ukraine, according to Handicap International, an aid organisation working in situations of poverty, exclusion, conflict and disaster.

“Seven years ago, we reached an all-time low in new landmine casualties. But this achievement has overturned, and we are seeing heightened numbers of civilians killed and wounded. Appallingly, nearly half of all these casualties are children. We need to act now to reverse this trend, to save lives, and to address the trauma and suffering with much needed assistance,” said Loren Persi, impact editor of Landmine Monitor 2020.

Last year also saw a reduction in global funding for mine action, with 45 donors and affected states contributing around $650.7 million (CHF595 million), a 7% decrease compared with 2018. International support fell below $600 million for the first time since 2016 ($561.3 million).

Cleared areas

At least 156km2 of land was reported cleared of landmines in 2019 and more than 123,000 landmines destroyed, Landmine Monitor 2020 noted. These are both increases from 2018. Most parties to the treaty reported some clearance activities in 2019, including countries facing ongoing conflicts such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen.

Chile became the most recent country to declare the clearance of all mined areas in early 2020, joining 31 states and one other region that have completed clearance of all mined areas on their territory since 1999.

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