Landmines are lethal. According to a UN report, they kill 15,000 to 20,000 people every year. The worst affected countries, Afghanistan and Syria, lack effective national monitoring systems, and many deaths go unrecorded.
Landmine free 2025 is a campaign led by the HALO trust and MAG (Mines Advisory Group), to implement the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty. The Mine Ban treaty has three main requirements. Signatories must:
- Destroy their stockpile of antipersonnel (AP) mines within four years,
- Identify and clear mined areas under their jurisdiction or control within 10 years,
- Aid mine victims and support mine risk education.
In 1997, 122 countries united to sign the Mine Ban Treaty, with a further 42 countries joining since. Some countries, notably China, the United States, and Russia, have not signed it. The Mine Ban treaty only applies to AP mines, targeting people, but not to antivehicle mines, which target vehicles such as cars and trucks.
China has attended all the Mine Ban Treaty’s Review Conferences, and voted in favour of a UN Resolution calling for the universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. It stopped exporting them in 1996, and stopped producing them in 2008. However, China maintains a small number of minefields ‘for national defence’.
The 2014 US ban of the production, acquisition and use of AP mines was immaterial, as the US last used AP mines in 1991, bar a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan in 2002. This ban excepted the Korean Peninsula, where a minefield lies between the two Koreas. This is allegedly ‘the responsibility of South Korea’. The US, like China, has committed to, and is, reducing its landmine stockpile.
Russia, the final major non-signatory to the agreement, have used AP mines in Chechnya, but also at times in Dagestan, Tajikistan, and on the border with Georgia. Russian-made AP mines have been recently found in 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Ukraine and Vietnam.
We know they’re widespread; why is this such a problem? Landmines kill people. Indiscriminately. Men and Women, Boys and Girls, all lives blighted by the threat of landmines. In over 60 countries, landmines remain, and they stop children from going safely to school, stop adults from farming their land and stop citizens from travelling.
Landmines force a dilemma on many; farm dangerous land or face starvation. In agri-business, which dominates these economies, land is a major asset, and the inability to farm leaves families vulnerable to starvation.
Landmines also put the environment at risk, as grazing animals can trigger explosions. Many of these animals are already threatened, due to ongoing conflict damaging their source of water and food. They are often used as a source of food themselves, so face risks from all sides.
When injured, poor standards of healthcare often lead to infection for the newly disabled, and an inability to work makes them dependent on government and charity support.
Fortunately, the UK government supports the Mine Ban Treaty. The government will give Zimbabwe up to £2 million to remove landmines from the country after Prince Harry’s raised awareness on his recent tour of southern Africa. This is in addition to the 2017 £100m plan to rid the world of landmines by 2025. The UK is a world leader, and our neighbours need to do the same.
How you can help:
1. Support the #LandmineFree2025 campaign online.
2. Donate to the HALO trust, and MAG (Mines Advisory Group)
3. Share this article with other who may be interested.