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Mine Action: The Effects Of The Remnants Of War And How We’ll Recover

By Yumna Fakier

A Khmer Rouge general once said “A landmine is the perfect soldier: Ever courageous, never sleeps, never misses”.

The introduction of landmines in 1975 has brought nothing but devastation and long-term social and economic destruction in the countries affected. According to UNICEF, more than 1 million people were injured and killed since landmines were introduced and it is currently thought they are responsible for the deaths of 800 people a month and disabling thousands of others. The report by UNICEF also states that there are an estimated 110 million landmines still lodged in 64 countries — and they can remain active for up to 50 years. That means that even if landmines were banned today, they would remain a very real threat for years to come. Many children fall victim to landmine explosions as some of the devices have interesting shapes that could easily resemble a toy.

Credit: Davide Bonaldo/Shutterstock

According to another UNICEF report, “in many mine-affected countries, children account for one in every five landmine victims. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or maimed by landmines every year, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.”

Is Mine Action Part of the SDG 2030 Agenda?

On International Mine Awareness Day, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations stated that “All people have the right to live in security, and not fear their next step.”

I pay tribute to the United Nations Mine Action Service and to the women and men who show extraordinary bravery in advancing this vital work, literally step by step.  

– António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations

According to the UN, there are five pillars of mine action:

  1. Mine/ERW risk education,
  2. mine clearance,
  3. victim assistance,
  4. stockpile destruction,
  5. and advocacy.

Mine action goes beyond the physical removal of mines; it is also about the reparations and building resilience in communities. Since landmines hinder sustainable recovery, mine action is necessary for sustainable development.

The United Nations has been working to help countries get rid of mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive device for more than 20 years. Their newly launched campaign “Safe Ground” aims to “turn mine fields into playing fields, and ensure that no one, no State, and no war zone is left behind” – similar to the SDG agenda of “leaving no one behind”.

UN Global Advocate, James Bond actor Daniel Craig, helps to spread the Safe Ground message in the video below. 

The Secretary-General also called on States to sign the mine-ban treaty and urged them to “provide political and financial support for mine action”. A mine-free world won’t happen overnight, but if mine action becomes a priority for all States and countries, we’re one step closer to the peaceful world the SDG agenda hopes to achieve.

CTG consultants work on large-scale mine and UXO clearance, local capacity building and training programmes in conflict-affected regions. Read some of our “Day in the Life of Stories’ from our consultants in mine action below.