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Mozambique clear but 60 countries still mined

Deminer on a hillside in Afghanistan. © Danish Demining Group (DDG)

Next week, Mozambique, formerly one of the world’s most heavily mined countries, will formally declare it has completed mine clearance on its territory, the 29th country to do so since the 1990s. This leaves 60 countries and territories still contaminated according to Clearing the Mines , a review of mine action programmes around the world published today by Norwegian People’s Aid. The report’s authors have calculated that by 2020 another 20 countries should have completed mine clearance and the urgent humanitarian threat removed from the other 40.

Ukraine has been added to the global list of affected countries following new mine-laying in 2014 in the conflicts that erupted during the year. Also new to the list is Oman, which joined the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) in 2014 and reported this year that mines may remain in the south of the country.

Last year, programmes in 34 countries cleared a total of 200 square kilometres of mined area, equalling the previous annual record. Operations resulted in the destruction of more than 230,000 anti-personnel mines and 11,500 anti-vehicle mines. The world’s three largest international demining NGOs, HALO Trust, Mines Advisory Group, and Norwegian People’s Aid, were together responsible for 20% of mine clearance globally and the destruction of more than 67,000 anti-personnel mines (almost 30% of the total).

But too many countries are falling behind their plans and commitments. Of the ten most contaminated parties to the APMBC (Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, Iraq, Thailand, Turkey, and Zimbabwe), not one is on target to meet its clearance deadline set by international law. Turkey has cleared less than 1% of overall contamination more than 11 years after joining the APMBC. In the last five years, Thailand has released barely one-third of the projected amount.

Among other contaminated countries, Ethiopia missed its clearance deadline of 1 June 2015 and is currently in serious violation of international law. Senegal did not report any clearance in 2014, but is still seeking a five-year extension to its Convention deadline that is to be debated next week. Total mined area cleared from the Falkland Islands so far represents 9% of contamination, far less than the 48% the United Kingdom had pledged to clear five years into its ten-year-long extension period.

Success in mine action depends on targeted survey and clearance backed by political commitment and continued national and international funding. Clearing the Mines assesses the performance of mine action programmes worldwide, recommending corrective action to enhance efficiency and improve the protection of civilians.

27.11.2015 |