Landmine toll still high amid concerns over COVID-19 impact on clearance efforts
NEW YORK -- Thousands of people continue to be killed and injured every year by landmines and explosive weapons in conflicts around the world, while the COVID-19 pandemic has forced mine-clearance efforts to be scaled back, a UN-backed civil society report on the issue said on Thursday.
According to the Landmine Monitor 2020, more than 80 percent of the world – 164 countries – have adopted the Mine Ban Treaty 23 years after it was drafted and signed, and most of the 33 countries that are not bound by it, comply nonetheless.
Despite this achievement, long-running conflicts continue to cause mainly civilian casualties, while other dangers requiring action include the new use of improvised landmines by non-State armed groups and a decrease in global mine action assistance.
For 2019, "we recorded about 2,200 people killed of those 5,545 casualties overall", said Loren Persi, Landmine Monitor 2020 Impact research team leader from The International Campaign to Ban Landmines/Cluster Munition Coalition, ICBL-CMC, at a virtual press conference moderated by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research,UNIDIR, in Geneva.
Mr. Persi added that the ratio of people killed to injured, indicated very clearly "that there were many, many more casualties and that people who were injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war are not being recorded adequately in many countries where there are conflicts."
The COVID-19 pandemic and related movement restrictions had also prevented survivors and other persons with disabilities from accessing services in a number of mine-affected countries, it added, noting also that children represented 43 percent of civilian casualties.
The vast destruction of antipersonnel mine stocks continues to be one of the great successes of the Mine Ban Treaty. To date, States Parties have destroyed more than 55 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines, including more than 269,000 destroyed in 2019