Landmines impact largest on children: Syria, Ukraine and Yemen worst affected

The latest Landmine Monitor data, released on Tuesday, alarmingly indicates that children comprised almost half of the civilian population killed or injured by landmines last year. The report outlines grim statistics, stating 4,710 casualties attributed to mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the past year, resulting in 1,661 deaths and 3,015 injured individuals.

Out of the total casualties documented, 85% were civilians, equating to 4,341 of the victims for whom the military or civilian status was known. Further disconcerting data reveals an estimated 49% of civilian victims were children, denoting 1,171 casualties where age was accounted for.

Syria recorded the highest number of casualties at 834 – a macabre distinction the nation retains for a third successive year. Ukraine, which reported 608 casualties, a staggering ten-fold increase from the previous year, and Yemen along with Myanmar, each accounted for over 500 casualties in the same period.

The report likes to echo the devastating and disproportionate impact of mines and ERWs on civilians, stating, “Children made up almost half (49%) of civilian casualties and just over one-third (35%) of all casualties in 2022, where the age group was known.” Most child casualties were boys, who accounted for nearly 79% of victims where gender was recognized. ERWs and improvised mines were the main items responsible for child victims; accounting for 44% and 19% of casualties respectively.

The report delves deeper, voicing concern over the expected rise in casualties in Ukraine for the year 2023. Despite progress in landmine clearance, the critical issue of underfunded care facilities for victims persists.

In 2022, global support for mine action rose to $913.5 million, a notable 52% ($314.5 million) year-on-year increase. Activities across Ukraine saw $162.3 million of this sum. For the first time, Saudi Arabia emerged among the top 15 donors, which jointly contributed 97% of global mine action funding that amounted to $774.9 million. However, the UK’s contribution saw a significant decrease, down by 35% from its previous contribution in 2021.

Contrarily, the United States and the European Union, the largest and second largest mine action donors respectively, notably upped their contributions in 2022. Half of all victim support was allocated to just three states – Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen. However, the report underlines these states were still failing to receive the help they need.

Issues in healthcare and rehabilitation services, like underfunding, accessibility, lack of expertise, and material supply have persisted in 2022. Countries like Afghanistan, Sudan, Ukraine, and Yemen, faced massive disruption, damage, and even destruction to their healthcare systems in the same period. While some strides in integrating physical rehabilitation into national healthcare systems were noted, the report cited a lack of prioritisation from several affected countries.

Of the 164 state parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, 94 have confirmed the destruction of their stocks of antipersonnel mines, amounting to a total of 55 million landmines being destroyed. Sri Lanka was the latest to destroy its stocks in October 2021.

In 2022, state parties reported clearing a total of 219.31km² of contaminated land, resulting in the destruction of 169,276 antipersonnel landmines. This presents a rise compared to 2021, when 132.52km² of land was cleared and 117,847 mines were destroyed. Cambodia and Croatia reported the highest clearance rates in 2022, by jointly clearing over 128.67km² of land and destroying 14,815 antipersonnel mines.

Image Credit: AP News

Tags : Syria, Yemen