Landmines Strike 10 Civilians in a Single Town in Myanmar’s Shan State

By Lei Lei 27 September 2019

KYAUKME, Shan State—More than 10 civilians have been struck by landmines and three have died in August and September in Kyaukme Township, northern Shan State, according to U Tin Maung Thein, chairman of social organization Jivita.

Fighting has increased over the last two months between the Myanmar army, or Tatmadaw, and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA), as well as between the TNLA and the Restoration Council of Shan State (RCSS). Jivita has asked all sides to stop using landmines.

“As far as I know, more than 10 people have been hit by landmines in two months and three of them died. There might also be unreported cases and more casualties who died on their way to the hospital,” U Tin Maung Thein told The Irrawaddy. “[The Tatmadaw and armed groups] have fought each other, planting mines, but now civilians are bearing the brunt of this. A landmine doesn’t just impact the victims, it impacts their entire families,” he said.

In the latest incident on Sept. 25, a local villager in Kyaukme stepped on a landmine on a public road and his leg was injured.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement has said 52 townships in nine regions and states are contaminated with landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung said on International Mine Awareness Day in April that the prevalence of mines and explosives is a consequence of some groups’ failure to sign the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement.

Reported casualties from landmines and other explosives increased from 176 in 2017 to 276 in 2018. Most of the casualties occurred in Kachin and Shan states between 2015 and 2018, according to the ministry.

Internally displaced people and host communities in conflict-affected areas have raised concerns about landmines and ERW, saying that the explosives have destroyed their livelihoods and prevented them from returning to their home villages, according to U Soe Aung.

The use of landmines is illegal under the international Mine Ban Treaty, but Myanmar is one of 32 countries, including the US and China, that have yet to ratify the treaty.

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