Land mines and unexploded ordnances are a serious problem in many parts of the world.  They are a painful reminder that some of the most deadly and dangerous hazards are made by people.  The use of mines in warfare is also far from over.  The governments of Israel, Libya and Myanmar have all been confirmed to be laying anti-personnel mines that are designed to kill people.  There are also a number of countries (such as Russia, China and the US) who have not signed the Ottawa Treaty (Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention) that was formed in 1997 in Ottawa, Canada to ban the use of landmines.

While the number of casualties caused by mines and unexploded ordnances has gone down since the 1990s when common estimates were 26,000 per year, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, there were more than 5,000 recorded casualties in 2008.  In 2009 3,956 casualties were reported and 4,010 recorded for 2010.  In 2010, 200km2  of mined areas were cleared by 45 action programmes.  More than 388,000 anti-personnel mines and over 27,000 anti-vehicle mines were destroyed during this clearance.  This was accomplished by anti-mine programmes in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq and Sri Lanka, which accounted for more than 80 percent of recorded clearance.  Also, 80 percent of the world´s nations have signed onto the Mine Ban Treaty.  Unfortunately, the US was reported to have slowed down its policy review on the treaty last year.  But even for the countries that have signed on the rate of compliance for submitting annual transparency reports was at an all-time low of 52 percent.

Countries that have mine contamination of more than 100 km2 include Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey, Chad, Zimbabwe and Croatia.  Afghanistan had the most mines cleared (64.76 km2) with Cambodia (50.99 km2) not far behind.  Risk Education is also needed in countries with mine contamination to help prevent casualties.  While it seems much progress has been made there is clearly still much work to be done in this highly important field of hazard and risk research to help save lives and to encourage countries to uphold policies to prevent mine contamination throughout the world.

Further Reading

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor – http://www.the-monitor.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2011/es/Mine_Action.html

Landmines and explosives (AlertNet) – http://www.trust.org/alertnet/crisis-centre/subtopic/landmines-and-explosives