Landmines – a summary of the issue and problem
All the facts on this page have been taken from www.landmineaction.org
I feel passionately about this issue, particularly since visiting Cambodia, which I believe is the country with the most landmines. Every day that I was there the paper had stories about deaths resulting from unexploded landmines. All the tourists were warned never to stray from unmarked paths and populated spaces, so grave are the dangers of these mines. Yet the local people are poor and have no alternative but to go out and work the land, risking their lives daily. Dismembered people and amputees are everywhere in Cambodia and itís harrowing to see. Even on the beaches, legless people would lie by your deckchair begging for money. Their injuries make them redundant in a country of subsistence living. Landmines need clearing all round the world, NOW! Please do what you can to support mine clearance and pressure governments to cease production of such weapons. Here is the situation –
Firstly, a definition of an anti-personnel mine is that it is victim-activated and thu cannot discriminate between civilians and combatants.
20,000 casualties occur every year from unexploded ordnance and landmines (thatís around 40 a day)
85% of all injured children die before reaching a hospital
Landmines are a developmental disaster as they deny people the use of their own land and resources.
82 countries are affected by landmines. Only a few render land unusable, and it only takes one to end a human life.
The most affected territories include: Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Eritrea, Iraq, Laos, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
In 2003, countries where mines were still used included: Burma, Burundi, Columbia, India, Iraq, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia (Chechnya), Somalia, Sudan and Nepal.
The Ottawa Treaty was set in motion in March 1999 and it bans the use of anti-personnel mines around the world, obliges member countries to destroy stockpiles within four years and clear their own territory within ten years. It also urges governments to help poorer countries clear land and assist landmine victims.
To date, 143 states have joined the Ottawa Treaty. A further nine have signed but not yet ratified. Those who have still not signed include the US, Russia, China, Pakistan, Finland and India. Forty two countries are yet to join the Treaty. China, Russia and the United States comprise three of the five members of the UN Security Council and they still havenít signed. Russia continues to use anti-personnel mines in Chechnya.
The US can still use anti-personnel mines until 2010 by presidential instruction, but have not done so since 1997.
The UK signed up, but has still not met itís obligation to clear landmines in the Falkland Islands. This is not an example to set.
Unexploded cluster bombs have similar effects to landmines, and are killing civilians in many countries, but are currently not banned or covered by any humanitarian law. Any weaponry that causes these kind of indiscriminate deaths should be stopped (the UK still manufactures mines that can be triggered by civilians and yet it claims that they are not included in the Treaty).