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Report: More than 7,000 people injured or killed by landmines in huge increase as COVID-19 impedes humanitarian mine action

Press Release | London, 10th November 2021, 9:00 GMT

Published on 10th November, the Landmine Monitor released today reports data from 2020, totalling 7,073 casualties, of which civilians account for 80%. This high figure is mainly the result of increased armed conflict and contamination with improvised mines since 2015. Humanity & Inclusion calls on States - which are gathering from 15-19 November for the annual Mine Ban Treaty conference - to enforce international humanitarian law and to pressure parties to conflict to end the use of these barbaric weapons. 

The Landmine Monitor 2021 report measures the impact of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines, for the 2020 calendar year, with information included through October 2021 when possible. 

This year’s Monitor reveals that the number of new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war reached 7,073 in 2020 and has remained high for six years in a row. 

The 2020 total marks a 21% increase from the 5,853 casualties recorded in 2019. It is more than twice the lowest determined yearly total, which was 3,465 in 2013. On average, there were 10 casualties per day in 2013. In 2020, this figure skyrocketed to 19 casualties per day. The Monitor underlines that casualties go unrecorded in many areas so the true figure is likely significantly higher. 

“We are deeply concerned by the fact that the number of mine victims remains exceptionally high for the sixth year in a row. It is mainly due to current conflicts and an intense use of improvised mines. This means that vast parts of territories are newly contaminated and will require long and complex clearance operations. Until then, populations will be living under the threat of mines. The States Parties of the Ottawa Treaty have set the goal to reach a mine free world by 2025 – this will only be reached if all states intensify their commitment in the fight against landmines,” said Anne Héry, Humanity & Inclusion’s Advocacy Director. 

In 2021, for the fifth successive year, the highest number of annual casualties was caused by improvised mines. Out of a total of 7,073 mine casualties recorded in 2020, improvised mines are responsible for about a third (2,119). Explosive remnants of war caused 1,760 casualties.  The vast majority of people killed or injured by landmines are civilians: 80% of casualties were civilians in 2020 (4,437). 1,872 of whom were children.  

In 2020, Syria, a state not party to the Mine Ban Treaty, recorded the most casualties (2,729), followed by Afghanistan (1,474), Mali (368), Yemen (350), Myanmar (280), Ukraine (277), Nigeria (226), Colombia (167) Iraq (161) and Burkina Faso (111). Mine casualties were recorded in 50 states and three territories around the world. 

The Landmine Monitor confirmed new uses of landmines by government forces in Myanmar between mid-2020 through October 2021. During that same time, non-state armed groups were found to have used landmines in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Pakistan.  

The Monitor also says there were as yet unconfirmed allegations of new mine use by non-state armed groups in Cameroon, Egypt, Niger, the Philippines, Thailand, Tunisia, and Venezuela. 

Impact of COVID-19 on mine action 

Measures against COVID-19 had a serious impact on mine action in 2020. Restrictions prevented survivors and other persons with disabilities from accessing services they needed and that Humanity & Inclusion provides (rehabilitation, social services, etc.) in several mine-affected countries. Clearance was temporally suspended, as well as risk education sessions that had to be adapted to constraints and restrictions against the pandemic. 

States Parties reported clearing nearly 146km² of land, with more than 135,000 landmines destroyed. This represents a 6% decrease from the reported 156km² cleared in 2019, and a 10% increase from the 122,270 mines destroyed. 

To date, 94 States Parties have destroyed more than 55 million stockpiled landmines, including more than 106,500 destroyed in 2020 -Mines that will never claim any victims. Sri Lanka is the latest state to have completed destruction of its stockpile in 2021. 


Notes 

  • You can access the Landmine Monitor 2021 here 

  • Interviews with Humanity & Inclusion’s advocacy & mine action experts are available upon request. 

  • The Ottawa Treaty bans the acquisition, production, stockpiling, trade and use of anti-personnel mines. The treaty was opened for signing on 3rd December 1997 and entered into force on 1st March 1999. A total of 164 states are party to the treaty, and one state (the Marshall Islands) has signed but not ratified the treaty. 

  • The Landmine Monitor 2021 report measures the impact of the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines for the calendar year 2020, with information included through October 2021 when possible. 

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