Towards a mine free world - Asia
General situation: Anti-personnel mines have been used in many Asian armed conflicts. Today, some 15 countries in the region are affected by anti-personnel mines.
Source: Landmine Monitor 2003
Although anti-personnel mines continue to kill and injure large numbers of civilians and impact post-conflict reconstruction, there are positive developments towards addressing the problem in Asia. In recent years, the global increase in the resources devoted to the removal of anti-personnel mines, to mine risk education programmes and to victim assistance has also benefited Asia.
Humanitarian mine clearance by international, national and non-governmental organizations is underway in 6 Asian countries. Similar to the trend globally, the use of anti-personnel mines in Asia has decreased substantially from the large numbers used in the conflicts that occurred in the region between 1960 and the mid-1990’s. In countries where the comprehensive approach of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines has been implemented, the number of new victims has also decreased considerably.
Afghanistan and Cambodia are two South Asian countries heavily contaminated by anti-personnel mines and other forms of unexploded ordnance and which became parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines in 2002 and 1999 respectively. Measures prescribed by the Convention are currently being implemented in both countries. Organizations working in Afghanistan and Cambodia have collected a substantial amount of information on the scale of the problem and the progress made to date.
In spite of the advances made in Afghanistan and Cambodia, significant challenges remain throughout Asia if the threat of anti-personnel mines in the region is to be permanently eliminated. Firstly, the many countries that are not yet party to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines should be encouraged to adhere to it. Only when all States in the region are committed to never using anti-personnel mines, to destroying their stockpiles, to clearing mined land and to providing assistance to mine victims will Asia be free of the scourge of these indiscriminate weapons once and for all.
Secondly, until all anti-personnel mines in the ground are cleared, there must be a constant effort to identify and mark dangerous areas and to provide mine risk education to civilians. As highlighted by the data from Afghanistan, the vast number of victims did not know they were in a dangerous area at the time of their accident, nor had they received information on the dangers of anti-personnel mines.
Finally, funding levels for mine action must be increased in the years to come, in particular by national, regional and international bodies engaged in development efforts. In recent years the international community has affirmed its commitment to addressing the anti-personnel mine problem. The benefits of mine action in Asia are now evident and must continue until people and communities are safe from the threat of anti-personnel mines.
Only when all States in the region are committed to never using anti-personnel mines, to destroying their stockpiles, to clearing mined land and to providing assistance to mine victims will Asia be free of the scourge of these indiscriminate weapons once and for all.