Myanmar criticised for lack of mine-clearing plan
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.