Fatou Diaw, deminer at HI since 2018. She is currently working in Senegal in the Ziguinchor region, Casamance. | © M. Simoncelli / HI
Published on 14 November, the Landmine Monitor 2023 still reports a high number of casualties caused by landmines, explosive remnants of war, and improvised mines for the eighth year in a row.
Armed forces of Russia and Myanmar have extensively used landmines, and non-state armed groups have also employed landmines in at least five countries. States will gather in Geneva from November 20th to 24th for the annual Mine Ban Treaty conference. HI urge them to pressure parties in conflict to cease the use of these barbaric weapons.
In 2022, a minimum of 4,710 individuals were either killed or injured by landmines or explosive remnants of war. (This decrease from the 5,544 casualties recorded in 2021 is primarily due to the significant challenges in collecting data in Afghanistan).
Out of these individuals, 1,661 lost their lives, 3,015 were wounded, while the status of 34 remains unknown. Civilians accounted for 85% of the casualties, and nearly half of the civilian victims were children (49%), totalling 1,071 when their age group is known.
Syria maintained the highest number of casualties for the third consecutive year, with 834 reported in 2022, followed by Ukraine (at least 608 casualties in 2022), Yemen (582), and Myanmar (545), among others.
“Since 2015, after years of decline, we have witnessed a high number of mine casualties every year. Conflicts are proliferating, and some armies, such as Russia in Ukraine, are using landmines on an extensive scale. We also observe that areas remain contaminated for extended periods, causing casualties long after the violence has ceased. For instance, in Yemen, violence has significantly decreased since a truce in October 2021, but people continue to be victims of the legacy of past battles. In 2022, almost 600 people were killed or injured by mines, improvised devices, or explosive remnants in the country,” says HI Advocacy Director Anne Héry.
New instances of landmine use by Myanmar, Russia, and Ukraine were reported during the reporting period:
According to the Monitor, the Myanmar Armed Forces extensively employed landmines during this period. There has been a significant increase in the use of new mines by the Myanmar Armed Forces since 2021, including in proximity to critical infrastructure, such as mobile phone towers, extractive enterprises, and energy pipelines.
Russian forces have widely utilized antipersonnel mines since their full invasion of Ukraine commenced on February 24, 2022. It has been reported that Russian forces have employed at least 13 types of antipersonnel mines. The Monitor also reports the use of antipersonnel mines by Ukrainian government forces in and around the city of Izium in 2022 when the city was under Russian control. Ukraine is bound by the Mine Ban Treaty.
Nonstate armed groups in at least five countries also used landmines in Colombia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, and Tunisia.
A total of 60 countries and other areas have land contaminated by antipersonnel landmines on their territory.
As of October 2023, at least 24 States Parties are believed or known to have improvised mine contamination: Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central Africa, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Türkiye, Ukraine, Venezuela, and Yemen.
In 2022, improvised mines (manually positioned explosive devices, usually artisanally fabricated, victim self-activated, designed to kill, injure, damage, etc. like a landmine) accounted for the highest number of casualties for the seventh consecutive year (1,517, or 32%). Factory-made antipersonnel mines accounted for 628 casualties. Explosive remnants of war account roughly for 20% of the casualties recorded by the Monitor in 2022 (946). Cluster munition remnants caused at least 194 casualties.
“The city of Raqqa, in Northeast Syria, serves as a poignant example of the enormous challenges that clearance experts will continue to face in the coming years. In Raqqa, we clear unexploded bombs, remnants of explosive devices, booby traps, mines, and more. Our demining operations encompass a wide variety of terrains, including land, the rubble of destroyed buildings, and even beneath the water of rivers or dams. Our work is notably diverse and complex. We encounter the full spectrum of all explosive weapons and operate in densely populated areas, which present safety challenges. As a result, clearance experts have had to adapt to these new forms of contamination,” says HI Country Director for Syria Myriam Abord-Hugon.