Myanmar now only active landmine user

2010-11-24 22:55

Geneva - Myanmar is now the only government still laying landmines after Russia stopped using such weapons, campaigners said on Wednesday, noting that 2009 marked the lowest usage of the deadly explosives in a decade.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) credited the 1997 Ottawa international treaty banning anti-personnel mines for the reduction in usage.

"Although no additional countries joined the Mine Ban Treaty in 2009 or the first half of 2010, the power of the international standard rejecting the weapon continued to be evident," said the group in its annual Landmine Monitor.

"Only one government - Myanmar - newly laid anti-personnel mines, no state transfers of mines were recorded, and as few as three states were actively producing mines," it said.

"This is the lowest level of recorded use since the monitor began reporting in 1999. For the first time, Russia was not identified as an active user."

However, the report criticised Venezuela, saying it was the only signatory not to meet its obligations to dispose of the mines.

"One of our sources of concern is Venezuela, which has not started its demining activities more than 10 years after joining the treaty," said the report.

First too humid, now too dry

"After saying for several years that the conditions were too humid, this year they said they were too dry," said one of the report's authors, Stuart Casey-Maslen.

"We are starting to have doubts on Venezuela's good faith in this matter," he said.

The report said only 12 countries manufactured anti-personnel mines, with three actively producing - India, Myanmar and Pakistan.

Nepal was dropped from the list of producers.

Nevertheless, such mines are still laid by non-state armed groups in six countries - Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Yemen, noted the report.

Landmines and explosive remnants of war caused 3 956 new casualties in 2009, although this is the lowest annual total since the ICBL began monitoring the issue in 1999 and 28% lower than in 2008.

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