Burma Landmine Casualty Rate Among World’s Worst: Report
RANGOON —Burma has the third-highest landmine-related casualty rates in the entire world, has edged away from international forums focused to eradicate the munitions, and is one of the only countries in the world still actively deploying mines in conflict areas, according to the latest report from the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
The 2014 Landmine Monitor report documents 3,450 casualties between 1999 and the end of 2013, resulting in at least 348 deaths. The recorded landmine casualty rate in the six years from 2006 is surpassed only by Colombia, a nation that has spent five decades fighting a Marxist insurgency financed by drug trafficking, and Afghanistan, a country ravaged by seemingly interminable war for most of the last 35 years.
Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, the Landmine Monitor researcher for Burma, told a press conference yesterday that the country’s refusal to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and allow direct inspection of conflict flashpoints made it difficult to compile an accurate number of casualties, but the ICBL’s official estimates over the period were almost certainly understated.
He added that despite a request from President Thein Sein for European Union assistance in establishing clearance programs in 2012, international organizations had been prevented from traveling to areas contaminated with landmines, with the military and the government blaming each other for the refusal of access. According to Landmine Monitor, there has been no mine clearance by accredited organizations in the last two years, although some ethnic armed groups and organizations such as the Free Burma Rangers have engaged in some local demining programs….