Syria records world's worst landmine casualty figures

Syria records world's worst landmine casualty figures: monitor
3 min read
10 November, 2021
Syria overtook Afghanistan last year as the country with the highest number of recorded casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war, according to The Landmine Monitor.
Globally in 2020 at least 7,073 casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war [Getty]

Syria overtook Afghanistan last year as the country with the highest number of recorded casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war, a monitoring group said Wednesday.

The Landmine Monitor said Syria had registered the most victims for the first time since its annual reports began in 1999, with 2,729 people either killed or injured.

Colombia recorded the most casualties from 2005 to 2007, and Afghanistan has recorded the most since then until last year.

Globally in 2020, the report said at least 7,073 casualties of mines and explosive remnants of war, including 2,492 deaths, were recorded across 54 territories.

The overall number of casualties was below the peak of 9,440 reached in 2016, but up from 5,853 in 2019.

"This was mostly the result of increased armed conflict and contamination with mines of an improvised nature," the monitor said.

The number remains far higher than the all-time low of 3,456 registered in 2013.

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Some 164 countries are bound by the landmark Mine Ban Treaty struck in 1997.

"The continued high number of casualties and disappointingly slow clearance outputs highlight serious and persistent challenges to treaty implementation," said monitor editor Marion Loddo.

"If we are to reach a mine-free world, states must redouble their efforts toward speedy implementation of their obligations and a much more efficient distribution of resources among all affected states and territories."

Where the age, combat status and gender of victims were known, 80 percent of casualties were civilians -- of which half were children -- while males made up 85 percent of the victims.

- New mines in Myanmar -

 

From mid-2020 to October 2021, Myanmar was the only country whose state forces had used anti-personnel mines, it found.

There were indications that new use of anti-personnel mines happened during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in late 2020, but they could not be confirmed.

In Syria, the monitor could not confirm any new use of anti-personnel mines by Syrian government or Russian forces, but armed groups "likely continued to use improvised landmines, as in previous years", it said.

Meanwhile non-state armed groups were found to have used anti-personnel mines in Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan, while alleged uses in seven other countries could not be confirmed.

"Ongoing use of mines by non-state armed groups is particularly worrisome and more can be done to prevent anyone from using these weapons," said Mark Hiznay, the monitor's ban policy editor.

Clearance and stockpiles

Nearly 146 square kilometres (56 square miles) of land was reported cleared of landmines last year, with more than 135,000 anti-personnel mines destroyed.

Sri Lanka completed the destruction of its stockpile in 2021 -- the 94th country to do so.

As last year, the monitor identified 12 states as still producing anti-personnel mines: China, Cuba, India, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, the United States and Vietnam.

The 23rd annual report is produced by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, the research and monitoring arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Cluster Munition Coalition NGOs.