ALERT – 4 April: International Day of Mines Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action | April 4, 2016
From Syria to Yemen, Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar and Tunisia, the use of banned explosive weapons increased significantly in 2014 and 2015 amidst general indifference. To mark International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Handicap International is calling on the international community to strongly condemn this practice and for an immediate end to […]
From Syria to Yemen, Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar and Tunisia, the use of banned explosive weapons increased significantly in 2014 and 2015 amidst general indifference.
To mark International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Handicap International is calling on the international community to strongly condemn this practice and for an immediate end to the use of these weapons.
Use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, banned weapons, at its highest level since 2010
4 April is international day of mine and cluster munition awareness. Banned under international law, these weapons have been used at an alarming rate in recent years. Cluster munitions use is at its highest level since 2010, when the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force. According to the latest Cluster Munition Monitor report, published in August 2015, cluster munitions were used in five countries between July 2014 and July 2015: Libya, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen – all States which have not signed the treaty. According to the report, not since the ban treaty entered into force in 2010 have so many States or non-State actors been involved in the use of cluster munitions.
The latest Landmine Monitor report, published in November 2015, found an alarming and “significant increase” in the use of anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups in ten countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen. This level of use, in 10 or more countries, had not been reached since 2006.
79% of reported casualties of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions are civilians
“The world is in the grip of several brutally violent conflicts of which civilians are the main casualties. The shameless use of cluster munitions and the regular use of anti-personnel mines, both banned under international law, underlines the gravity of the situation. We must not tolerate brutality. We need to constantly remind States and armed groups that the use of these weapons is banned and that international law must be upheld.” says Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations at Handicap International.
Yemen is a particularly revealing example. For several months, explosive weapons have been used by all parties to the conflict on a massive scale in populated areas. Anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions have been regularly deployed. In May 2015, Human Rights Watch, for example, confirmed the use of cluster munitions in the north of the governorate of Saada, close to the border with Saudi Arabia. Cluster munitions landed less than 600 metres from several dozen homes. Anti-personnel mines were also used on several occasions this summer. In total, since March 2015, Human Rights Watch has recorded 15 incidents involving six types of cluster munitions in at least five of Yemen’s 21 governorates: Amran, Hajja, Hodaida, Saada and Sanaa.
Handicap International is calling on States and non-State armed groups to immediately end the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, their sale and transfer, to unanimously and systematically condemn their use under any circumstances and, when they are party to a conflict, to apply pressure on their allies not to use these weapons.