Myan­mar crit­i­cised for lack of mine-clear­ing plan

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Front Page - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­[email protected]­times.com

A re­port by an in­ter­na­tional watch­dog group crit­i­cises the lack of sys­tem­atic land­mine-clear­ing op­er­a­tions in the coun­try.

THERE is no sys­tem­atic ef­fort be­ing con­ducted by the gov­ern­ment to clear land­mines in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to a re­port re­cently re­leased by the In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign to Ban Land­mines (ICBL).

The watch­dog group said that since it started mon­i­tor­ing the coun­try in 1998, there have been only seven in­ter­na­tional donors. Last year the donors pooled US$6.2 mil­lion (K9.7 bil­lion) for land­mine-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties but none of it went to mine-clear­ing.

In­stead, the money funded a non­tech­ni­cal sur­vey, risk ed­u­ca­tion, and vic­tim as­sis­tance through the Red Cross and other non-gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“Myan­mar is not part of con­ven­tions pro­hibit­ing the use of mines and clus­ter mu­ni­tions, so in­ter­na­tional donors can­not con­duct mine-clear­ing legally in the coun­try even if they are aware of the prob­lems in Myan­mar,” said Yeshua Moser-puang­suwan, re­search co­or­di­na­tor and edi­tor of the ICBL re­port.

He said eth­nic peo­ple had told him that the Tat­madaw (mil­i­tary) forced them to clear land mines without any pro­tec­tion. Moser-puang­suwan said that in Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber last year, Bor­der Guard Forces in Kayin State or­dered vil­lagers to walk in front of their forces to clear land­mines.

“Over 4000 peo­ple have ben in­jured by land­mines, and this is just an es­ti­mate. If there was of­fi­cial doc­u­men­ta­tion, the num­ber could in­crease,” he said.

The re­port said parts of Myan­mar are heav­ily sewn with land­mines from decades of armed con­flict be­tween the mil­i­tary and armed groups af­fil­i­ated with eth­nic mi­nori­ties. The most heav­ily mined ar­eas are along the borders with Bangladesh, China and Thai­land.

An­tiper­son­nel mines are be­lieved to pose dan­ger in 78 of the coun­try’s 325 town­ships.

In the past few years, the num­ber of mines has in­creased in the north­ern part of the coun­try, es­pe­cially in Shan and Kachin states. Town­ships in Chin State and Sa­gaing Re­gion along the In­dian bor­der are also be­lieved to be heav­ily mined.

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