Casualties due to the use of landmines increased by 75 percent in 2015, a new report that monitors landmines has revealed, with India being the third largest stockpiler of anti-personnel landmines after Russia and Pakistan.
According to the report, these weapons were used by the governments of Myanmar, North Korea, and Syria in 2015 despite being prohibited by a 1997 international treaty.
There were 6,461 mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties in 2015, of which at least 1,672 people were killed marking a 75 percent increase as compared to casualties recorded in 2014, the report, titled Landmine Monitor 2016, said on Wednesday.
Based on the report, 38 percent of the total casualties in 2015 were of children.
The Landmine Monitor is the monitoring and research wing of the Nobel Prize-wining International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC), the defacto monitoring regime of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty (a legally binding international agreement that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel mines and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles) and Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The percentage increase in casualties, however, was 59 when only ERWs were counted. Seventy eight percent of those killed by these weapons were civilians.
The report recorded 1,331 victim-activated IED (improvised explosive devices) or improvised mine casualties for 2015, which was the highest annual total of such casualties recorded since 1999; the next highest number recorded was 1,169 in 2012.
The sharp increase in the number of people killed and injured by mines, victim-activated IEDs or improvised mines (that mostly act as antipersonnel mines), cluster munition remnants, and other ERWs were due to active armed conflicts in Yemen, Ukraine, Libya and Syria.
The states with the greatest numbers of casualties reported from anti-vehicle mines were Ukraine (147), Pakistan (73) and Syria (68).
According to the report, India was the third largest stockpiler of anti-personnel mine in 2015 with an estimated stock of about 4-5 million, exceeded only by Russia (26.5 million) and Pakistan (estimated 6 million). India was followed by China with ("less than" 5 million) and the US (3 million).
There are eleven states, including India, who are producers of antipersonnel mines: China, Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. However, barring India, Pakistan, Myanmar and South Korea, who are "most likely" to be producing anti-personnel landmines, the others only keep the channels open for doing so.
The Monitor quotes a source in the Pakistani government who said that 14 percent of recovered IEDs used by militants in Pakistan are victim-activated which are banned under the Mine Ban Treaty (as opposed to command-detonated that are not banned under the Treaty).
Non-state actor groups (NSAGs) in Baluchistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) like Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan and Balochistan insurgent groups used landmines in the area in 2015.
ISIS is also producing and deploying IEDs on a large scale in Syria and Iraq, the report states quoting the Conflict Armament Research group.
Currently, there are 162 states party to the Mine Ban Treaty (the Sri Lankan cabinet approved ratification of the Treaty in March but its instrument of accession has not yet been deposited) that comprise 80 percent of the countries globally. However, influential countries like the US, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Israel and Palestine among other countries are not signatories to the Treaty.
Since the 1990’s there has been a de-facto ban on the state-to-state transfer of anti-personnel mines. However, about 60 percent of the recorded global casualties for 2015 occurred in countries who are signatories to the Treaty.
Afghanistan remains massively contaminated with anti-personnel mines (more than 100 square kilometre of mined area) along with with Iraq, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia and some African nations.
In war-torn Afghanistan, anti-government forces and NSAGs like Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Hezb-e-Islami have been most responsible both for mines and ERWs.
Less land was cleared of landmines last year than in 2014 as international support for mine clearing fell by 23 percent — $139 million — in 2015, the report said.
“During this reporting period, NSAGs and criminal groups in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen were reported to possess stocks of factory-made antipersonnel mines or components to manufacture victim-activated IEDs (improvised mines),” the report states.
Though India is a signatory to the Amended Protocol II of the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) — that regulates the production, transfer, and use of mines, booby-traps and other explosive devices — it has not joined the Mine Ban Treaty. It is one of the small group of ten countries including Pakistan, Israel, Russia, and the US who have signed the Amended Protocol II but not the Treaty.