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A mine-free world within 10 years: States must keep their promise

To mark the publication today of the 2015 Landmine Monitor report [1] on the progress of the Mine Ban Treaty [2] , Handicap International is reminding States Parties to the treaty of their promise at the Maputo conference in June 2014 to free the world of mines by 2025. The report also notes a rise in the number of mine casualties and the use of mines during 2014. The organisation is calling on States Parties to redouble their efforts to eliminate this threat.

“In 2014, States Parties to the Mine Ban treaty committed themselves to ridding the world of mines by 2025,” explains Anne Héry, advocacy director at Handicap International. “They have 10 years to complete their demining programmes, destroy existing stockpiles and provide victims with assistance. We are calling on States Parties whose territories are contaminated to be particularly unstinting in their efforts. We’re also asking funding bodies to stay fully engaged, and to reverse the loss of impetus in terms of funding for mine action.”

The slow pace of demining operations in several countries has thrown into doubt the political will of certain States to meet their obligations. A total of 27 of the 33 States Parties contaminated by mines have been granted extensions to their clearance deadlines.

More than 3,600 casualties in 2014

According to the 2015 Landmine Monitor report, 3,678 people were killed or injured by mines or explosive remnants of war in 2014, an increase of 12% compared with 2013. The report also underlines a steady rise in the use of improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups

“The resurgence in the use of improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups [3] is particularly worrying,” adds Anne Héry. “We can probably expect more contamination and casualties in the future. Some conflicts show no signs of ending or are worsening, so we need to reinforce the stigma against these weapons. The best way to ensure we don’t lose ground is by applying the treaty.”

Anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices (used as mines) kill, maim and cause serious consequences for victims - 80% of whom are civilians. Their presence close to water points or public infrastructure poses a permanent threat and slows the development of affected countries. Whole populations continue to be threatened as they go about their everyday lives such as fetching water or working in the fields.

Handicap International’s major role

The recent example of Mozambique, which was officially declared mine-free on 17th September 2015, shows that the fight against mines can be won. Handicap International played a major role in Mozambique, decontaminating 16 million square metres of land between 1998 and 2015. In Lebanon, the organisation cleared 92,200 square metres this year, land which was recently restored to the local population. More clearance operations will be launched in Casamance, Senegal, at the end of 2015.

Worldwide, 57 States and four territories are still contaminated by mines. Handicap International conducts clearance operations, risk education, victim assistance or advocacy actions in 43 countries, including on the Syria crisis, in Iraq and Ukraine.

[1] The Landmine Monitor report is published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) of which Handicap International is a founding member.

[2] The Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Treaty) bans the acquisition, production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines. The treaty was opened for signature on 3 December 1997 and entered into force on 1 March 1999. A total of 163 States have signed the treaty and 162 are States Parties to the treaty

[3] In 2014, improvised explosive devices were used in ten countries according to the 2015 Landmine Monitor report: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen.

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Tom Shelton 
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About Handicap International 

Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Our activities include clearing landmines and unexploded ordnance, preventing mine-related accidents through education, assisting survivors with rehabilitation and inclusion and advocating for the universal recognition of the rights of people with disabilities. The organisation works in 43 countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. Handicap International was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 as a co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

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