Global landmine toll still high amid Covid-19 impact: Report

Thousands of people continue to be killed and injured every year by landmines and explosive weapons across the globe, while the raging Covid-19 pandemic has forced mine-clearance efforts to be scaled back, a UN-backed civil society report said.

According to the Landmine Monitor 2020 issued on Thursday, more than 80 per cent of the world, or 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, UN News reported.

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.

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”.

“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,” Persi added.

Her comments coincide with data from the Monitor showing that 2019 also saw a reduction in global funding for mine action, with 45 donors and affected States contributing approximately $650 million, a 7 per cent decrease from 2018.

More than 55 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines have been destroyed to date, including more than 269,000 destroyed in 2019.