Landmines Spreading Across Myanmar: Monitoring Report

By Thazin Hlaing 20 December 2019

Yangon – The use of landmines has been reported in four more townships in Myanmar due to the ongoing clashes between Myanmar’s military and the Arakan Army (AA), according to the 2019 report by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Paletwa Township in Chin State and Maungdaw, Kyaukphyu and Buthidaung in Rakhine State now have landmines, according to the report.

“There were previously no landmines in those four townships. But they are on the list now. It is hard to make comparisons because we get information from different sources each year. But more people have definitely been injured by mines this year than the previous year,” said regional coordinator Dr. Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of the monitoring agency at the launch of the report in Yangon on Friday.

Mines, casualties and suspected hazardous areas have also been reported in Minbya, Mrauk-U, Myebon, Ponnagyun and Rathedaung townships in northern Rakhine State, said the report.

Casualty figures from landmines in 2019 will be published in the Landmine Monitor 2020 report in November next year.

According to the report, 90 townships had landmine risks in 2018, an increase from 71 in 2017 and 60 in 2016. Those townships are in Chin, Kachin, Kayah, Karen, Mon, Rakhine and Shan states and Bago, Sagaing and Tanintharyi regions.

Kachin State was hit hardest by landmines, followed by Shan, Kayah and Karen states and then Bago Region between 2007 and 2018, said the report.

According to the Myanmar Information Management Unit, the country has the second-highest number of antipersonnel mine casualties in Asia after Afghanistan. A total of 3,667 deaths and injuries were recorded between 2007 and 2018.

Antipersonnel mines are tiny and often hard to detect. They are specifically designed to maim rather kill a victim by removing a leg and therefore causing maximum disruption to an enemy force, placing a burden on its medical care and lowering morale.

Most of the landmine victims are adult males. There is no official landmine clearance program in place.

During a workshop to form the Myanmar National Mine Action Authority on Oct. 30 in Naypyitaw, U Win Naing Tun, the director-general of the Rehabilitation Department under the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said over 40 people were killed and more than 160 injured by landmines in 2019.

The 2018 monitor’s report said Myanmar’s military was the only government army in the world still using antipersonnel mines.

The agency has been monitoring the use of landmines in Myanmar since 1999.

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