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Myanmar

Landmine casualties spike in conflict-torn Myanmar

Myanmar is ranked third after Colombia and Afghanistan for the highest mine-related casualties in the world

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Landmine casualties spike in conflict-torn Myanmar

A poster warns of weapon dangers at a shelter for internally displaced people in Hsipaw, the area where a German tourist was killed by a landmine explosion last November. (Photo: AFP)

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The human toll caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war continues to rise in Myanmar as fighting rages in ethnic areas.

The United Nations said 52 people have been killed and 148 injured including children in the country due to landmines and other explosive remnants of war in 2020.

During the first nine months of this year, the number of victims in Myanmar reached 88 percent of the total for the whole of 2019, according to the latest report by UNICEF.

It said the situation in Rakhine state remains alarming as it shouldered 48 percent of casualties in 2020 while it only had 26 percent in 2019. Compared with the same period of 2019, casualties in Rakhine increased from 40 to 95.

Shan and Kachin states had 27 percent and 10 percent of total casualties respectively in 2020.

The report cited four incidents in September. Three took place in Rakhine and Chin, where fighting between the military and the Arakan Army intensified.

The Rakhine conflict has killed at least 90 civilians and displaced thousands more since it began in December 2018.

At least 92,000 people are displaced in Rakhine and more than 11,000 are in Chin states, according to the UN.

The Arakan Army is a largely Buddhist militia fighting for greater autonomy for indigenous ethnic Rakhine in the state.

UNICEF Myanmar reported in January that in 2019 alone 15 children lost their lives and 36 were severely injured in conflict-affected areas of Myanmar due to incidents caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war.

The LandMine Monitor report said that from mid-2018 to October 2019 Myanmar was the only country where government security forces had deployed mines.

Myanmar is ranked third after Colombia and Afghanistan in terms of having the highest mine-related casualties in the world. Myanmar recorded 3.745 such casualties between 1999 and 2014.

Myanmar has yet to sign the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty adopted by more than 80 percent of nations. The Myanmar military has laid landmines every year since 1997. Reports also reveal that most of the country’s 20 or so armed ethnic groups have used mines.

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