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Ukraine: HI condemns the use of landmines launched remotely by rockets, a new and dreadful form of contamination

Statement | London,31st March 2022, 16:00 GMT

Russian forces fighting in Ukraine have used landmines in the eastern Kharkiv region, Human Rights Watch said. 

“As civilians already suffer from heavy and systematic bombings and in the future will suffer from predictable vast contamination by explosive ordnance, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is outraged by the recent use of landmines by Russian forces in Ukraine, as reported by Human Rights Watch. Landmines are indiscriminate weapons. 80% of casualties were civilians in 2020; 30% of them were children. Mines kill or cause complex injuries, often with serious disabling sequelae, and serious long-lasting psychological trauma... Landmines are legally forbidden by the Ottawa Treaty since 1997; The Treaty has been joined by the vast majority of States in the world (164 or 80% of the world). That international law must be respected and any use of landmines by any actor to the conflict must be condemned.” says Anne Héry, Humanity & Inclusion Advocacy Director

Human Rights Watch reports that the mine used by Russia is a newly developed type called POM-3. It is equipped with a seismic sensor to detect an approaching person and eject an explosive charge into the air. The mines were apparently delivered by rockets fired from specially designed ground launchers that were recorded on video on an unknown date and posted to social media on March 26. The risk and the intensity of contamination by these remote mining launching system is very high.

“All landmines are inherently indiscriminate, but the POM3 is especially so, due to its ability to detect the presence of humans before it is stepped on or tripped over. Its 16 metres range and penetrative nature of its fragments are specifically designed to target eyes, neck and groin area.” explains Perrine Benoist, Humanity & Inclusion Armed Violence Reduction Director

According to the Landmine Monitor, Landmines were used in the conflict between government forces and Russian-supported separatists that erupted in early 2014 - initially in Crimea, and later in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces of eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine is a State party to the Mine Ban Treaty, and Russia is not.

The 4 April will the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action and 2022 also marks the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty.

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