Syria, Iraq facing landmine crisis, group says

January 15, 2017 05:51
1 minute read.

LONDON - Twenty years after Princess Diana's iconic visit to a minefield in Angola, the world faces a new landmine crisis in Syria and Iraq on a scale not seen for decades, campaigners said on Sunday.

The Mines Advisory Group said it had cleared and destroyed more than 9,000 newly laid landmines in both countries in the past six months in areas formerly occupied by the Islamic State militant group.

Jane Cocking, the group's chief executive, said at least $100 million of additional funding will be needed per year to tackle both newly laid land mines and those still in the soil from previous conflicts in more than 60 countries.

"The problem is that we're seeing the emergence of a new crisis of a scale that we haven't seen since the 1990s, and to deal with that as well requires substantially more money," Cocking told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

It is hard to gauge the scale of the problem, she said, but judging by the number of mines already cleared, Islamic State has produced improvised landmines on an "industrial scale."

Production and use of landmines has declined after the Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits their use, stockpiling and transfer, was adopted nearly two decades ago.

Hard to detect, difficult to clear and often designed to maim rather than kill, landmines can linger in the soil for decades and kill or injure thousands of people every year.

Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Angola and Afghanistan are among the most mined countries in the world, according to the Landmine Monitor, the most authoritative source on the issue.

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