Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Groups hail landmine deaths fall

Rights groups have hailed a fall in deaths caused by landmines

At least 3,956 people died last year because they stepped on a landmine or other unexploded devices left behind in war, advocacy groups have said.

The total is the lowest number since counting began nearly a dozen years ago.

The report, issued at the United Nations by Mines Action Canada, Human Rights Watch and other groups, cited the casualty rate and record amount of contaminated land cleared of mines as major progress towards a landmine-free world.

It said an area of about 76 square miles was cleared of landmines in 2009 in a nearly 500 million dollar (£316 million) effort, and 138 square miles of former war zones were cleared of other unexploded devices.

About 80% of the cleared areas were in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq and Sri Lanka. India, Burma and Pakistan are believed to be the only three nations still making anti-personnel mines, and military-ruled Burma was the only government confirmed as using them, the report said.

"Non-state armed groups" in six countries - Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Burma, Pakistan and Yemen - also use land mines, it said.

This was the first time Russia was not listed as a government that is a landmine user since the groups' Landmine Monitor was created in June 1998 by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The report was issued in advance of a meeting starting next week to discuss the Mine Ban Treaty. "The record progress made in the past year towards eliminating anti-personnel mines shows that the Mine Ban Treaty is working," said Mark Hiznay of Human Rights Watch.

The treaty has been signed by 80% of the world's nations. China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the US are among 39 nations that have not yet joined it, though the Obama administration is reviewing that stance.

The US donates 119 million dollars (£75 million) of the 449 million dollars (£284 million) in international funding for anti-landmine action.

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