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Report Says Land-Mine Casualties Up In 2016, Record Number Of Child Victims

FILE: Volunteers carry a body of a girl killed by a landmine while she collected firewood in the eastern Nangarhar province.
FILE: Volunteers carry a body of a girl killed by a landmine while she collected firewood in the eastern Nangarhar province.

A new report says armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, and Yemen contributed to a second year of "exceptionally high" casualties caused by land mines.

The annual Landmine Monitor report released on December 14 by the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) recorded 8,605 casualties in 2016, of which nearly 2,100 people were killed.

The combined deaths and injuries marked the highest level since the group began gathering data in 1999, and the most child casualties ever recorded.

"A few intense conflicts, where utter disregard for civilian safety persists, have resulted in very high numbers of mine casualties for the second year in a row," Loren Persi, co-editor of Landmine Monitor, said in a statement. "This shows the need for all countries to join the Mine Ban Treaty and for increased levels of assistance to mine victims."

The report said that about three-quarters of known casualties from mines -- as well as improvised explosive devices that act as antipersonnel mines, unexploded cluster munitions, and other remnants of war -- were civilians.

At least 1,544 children were wounded or injured by mines, the highest annual total since 1999, accounting for 42 percent of all civilian casualties.

The production and use of land mines have fallen since the Mine Ban Treaty banning the use, stockpiling, and transfer of weapons that detonate due to human contact became international law in 1999. The international treaty currently has 162 states parties.

Myanmar and Syria, which are not party to the treaty, were the only countries where government forces continued to actively plant antipersonnel mines in the past year, the report said.

Nonstate armed groups also used the weapons, including improvised mines, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, and at least six other countries.

The report also said that Ukraine is in violation of the Mine Ban Treaty due to missing its deadlines for mine clearance and stockpile destruction.

More positively, states parties destroyed more than 2.2 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines in 2016, and Belarus completed the destruction of its stockpiles in April 2017, the report said.

In 2016, countries reported about 170 square kilometers of land cleared of land mines, and the destruction of more than 232,000 land mines.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 after seeing its campaign efforts boosted by public support from Britain's late Princess Diana.

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