Silver Spring, MD—Handicap International is urging countries contaminated by landmines, and those home to victims of these barbaric weapons, to redouble their efforts to protect civilians. Landmine casualties rose 12% in 2014, according to the Landmine Monitor 2015 , an annual report that measures how States are meeting their obligations under the Ottawa Convention. The report was released today in Geneva.
The 17th annual Landmine Monitor, coordinated in part by Handicap International, finds that demining operations are moving at a slow pace in several countries. Indeed, 27 of the 33 States Parties contaminated by mines have been granted extensions on their clearance deadlines. This throws into doubt the political will of certain States to meet their obligations.
“In 2014, States Parties to the Ottawa treaty committed themselves to ridding the world of mines by 2025,” explains Anne Héry, Advocacy director at Handicap International. “They have ten years to complete their demining programs, destroy existing stockpiles and provide victims with assistance. We are calling on States Parties whose territories are contaminated to be particularly unstinting in their efforts. We’re also asking funding bodies to stay fully engaged, and to reverse the loss of impetus in terms of funding for anti-mines action.”
More than 3,600 casualties in 2014
According to the Landmine Monitor 2015, mines or explosive remnants of war killed or injured 3,678 people in 2014, up 12% compared with 2013. The report also underlines a steady rise in the use of improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups.
“The resurgence in the use of improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups is particularly worrying,” adds Anne Héry. “We can probably expect more contamination and casualties in the future. Some conflicts show no signs of ending or are worsening, so we need to reinforce the stigma against these weapons. The best way to ensure we don’t lose ground is by applying the treaty.”
Anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices used as mines kill, maim and cause serious, negative aftereffects for casualties—80% of whom are civilians. The presence of landmines close to water access points or public infrastructure poses a permanent threat, and slows each impacted country’s development. Whole populations continue to be threatened as they go about their everyday business, such as fetching water or working in the fields.
The fight against mines can be won. Mozambique declared itself officially mine-free on September 17, thanks in large part to Handicap International clearance activities from 1998 to 2015. In that time, the organization’s deminers decontaminated 16 million square meters of land. In Lebanon, the organization cleared 92,200 square meters this year, and this safe land was recently returned to the local population. Similar operations will be launched in Casamance, Senegal, by the end of this year.
Around the world, 57 States and four territories are still contaminated by landmines. Handicap International is conducting clearance operations, risk education, victim assistance or advocacy actions in 43 countries, including in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine.
** Experts available for comment **
About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 33 years. Handicap International has conducted anti-mine actions since 1992, in four humanitarian demining sectors: demining, risk education, victim assistance and advocacy. Its “global” approach enables it to act consistently in each of these four fields of action, in which it has acquired a unique technical expertise. The organization works in 43 countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. Handicap International was co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its actions against landmines.
 The report is published by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) of which Handicap International is a founding member. The report focuses on the 2014 calendar year, with information through Nov. 2015 when possible.
The Ottawa Treaty bans the acquisition, production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines. It was opened for signature on December 3, 1997. The treaty entered into force on March 1. A total of 163 States have signed the treaty and 162 are States Parties to the treaty.
 Improvised explosive devices were used in ten countries in 2014 according to the Landmine Monitor 2015 report: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen.