Russian mines in Ukraine 'greatest challenge' to landmark ban treaty

Published: 09:19 PM, 17 Nov, 2022
Pedestrians walk past anti-tank constructions covered with snow after the first snow falls of the season in Kyiv. AFP
Caption: Pedestrians walk past anti-tank constructions covered with snow after the first snow falls of the season in Kyiv. AFP
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Russia's use of newly-produced landmines in Ukraine poses the greatest challenge to the landmark Mine Ban Treaty struck 25 years ago, a monitor said Thursday.

Moscow has developed new anti-personnel mines and used ones made as recently as 2021 in Ukraine, the Landmine Monitor said.

The monitor's annual report identified 277 civilian casualties of mines and explosives in Ukraine in the first nine months of 2022a near fivefold rise on the 58 in 2021.

"At least seven types of anti-personnel mines have been used by Russian forces in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24," it said.

The monitor said it had confirmed evidence that Russian troops had planted "victim-activated booby-traps and improvised explosive devices in Ukraine... prior to retreating and abandoning their positions".

"Scatterable mines" appear to have been used in several regions, it said.

The report said the use of landmines by Russia and by Myanmar marred the 25th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty, the pioneering accord struck in 1997 in Ottawa.

'Big setback'

A total of 164 countries are bound by the ban treaty and have jointly destroyed more than 55 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines.

Russia is not a signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty, while Ukraine is.

"This is the first time that a country that has signed up to the Mine Ban Treaty has faced the use of mines on its territory by another country. That's a big setback for the landmine treaty," said one of the report's editors Mary Wareham, the arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

"Anti-personnel landmines are unacceptable weapons that should not be used under any circumstances," she told a press conference.

Ukraine has been asked to respond to allegations that it has used some of its 3.3 million stockpile of landmines which should have been destroyed since the Russian invasion.

The report said the "greatest challenge" to the emerging norm against landmines "can be seen in new use".

"Landmines continue to kill and injure civilians, destroy livelihoods, deny land use, and disrupt access to essential services in more than 60 countries and territories," it added.

Globally in 2021, at least 5,544 casualties were reported across 50 territories, of which 2,182 were fatal, it said.

The all-time low of 3,456 was registered in 2013.

Syria, Afghanistan worst-hit

Syria witnessed the highest number of casualties in 2021 for the second straight year, at 1,227.

It was closely followed at 1,074 by Afghanistan, which has had more than 1,000 annual casualties for over a decade.

Colombia, Iraq, Mali, Nigeria and Yemen also recorded more than 100 casualties last year.

Where the age, combat status and gender of victims were known, 76 percent of casualties were civilians of whom half were children. Males made up 81 percent of the victims.

Besides their use by the armed forces of Russia and Myanmar, landmines were deployed in 2021 by non-state armed groups in the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Myanmar.

There are approximately 45 million anti-personnel mines stockpiled worldwide.

Russia has the largest stockpile at 26.5 million, followed by fellow treaty non-signatories Pakistan with an estimated six million, India, China, and the United States, which has three million.

60 territories still mined

Nearly 133 square kilometres (51 square miles) of land were cleared of landmines last year more than half of which were in Cambodia and Croatia.

Over 117,000 anti-personnel mines were destroyed, the report said.

But at least 60 territories are still riddled with anti-personnel mines, with only Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe currently seeming on target to meet clearance deadlines.

Assistance for victims was also inadequate, the report said.

"In 2021, healthcare and rehabilitation activities remained under-funded and faced increasing and numerous challenges," it said, adding that global support for demining decreased by seven percent to $598.9 million in 2021.

The 24th annual report was 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.

Categories : World

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