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"A world free of anti-personnel landmines is a realistic possibility" - Van Orden

Others Article - Civil protection23-05-2011 - 10:27
  • $3.9 billion in international aid over 10 years
  • Casualties fell to 4000 from 18000 in 10 years
  • 70% of casualties in 2009 civilians
 
Two Afghan disabled people practice walking with prosthesis at an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) orthopedic centre in Kabul. After decades of war, millions of unexploded mines still lie in Afghanistan's countryside. ©BELGA/AFP/Shah Marai   4000 casualties of landmines in 2009 ©BELGA/AFP/Shah Marai

It is nearly 14 years since the Ottawa Treaty banning the use of anti-personnel mines was signed, but 90 countries are still affected by mines or other "explosive remnants of war", in particular Afghanistan, Angola and Bosnia. A report by British Conservative Geoffrey Van Orden calls for international funding to be maintained but better targeted and for the countries most affected to develop capacity to deal effectively with mines.


"There will always be rogue elements, particularly terrorist and insurgent groups that continue to use the most inhumane weapons without regard for their consequences," Mr Van Orden said. However, "a world free of the APL (anti-personnel landmines) threat to life, livelihood and economic development, is a realistic possibility within a finite period." 


More than 150 countries have signed the Mine Ban Treaty, which aims at prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of landmines, including all EU countries, aside from Finland, which Mr Van Orden says will likely accede to the ban in 2012.


The report calls for:  


  • Affected countries to develop their own resources to clear the land, including manpower, revenue and victim assistance

  • The international community to focus attention on countries least able to help themselves

  • The European Commission to update guidelines to ensure a more rapid, flexible and efficient delivery of funds. It regrets the elimination of a dedicated EU budget line in 2007


Civilian casualties


Over the past 10 years, the international community has provided $3.9 billion to detect and clear landmines and provide assistance to victims. Afghanistan alone received $80 million in aid in 2009.


The report notes that 16 countries have cleared their territories of landmines, explosive remnants and improvised explosive devices and that the number of casualties dropped worldwide from 18,000 in 1999 to 4,000 in 2009.


However, civilians still made up 70% of casualties in 2009.  There are still more than 500 landmine casualties a year in Afghanistan, over half of whom are children


It is estimated that it will take 100 years to clear the mines from Angola.


The Foreign Affairs Committee will vote on the report 24 May and it is expected to be on the June plenary agenda.

REF. : 20110513STO19339