ALERT – 4 April: International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action | April 2, 2021
This Sunday, we will celebrate the International Day for Mine Awareness. On this day, HI is alarmed by an exceptionally high and complex level of contamination, particularly explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised mines following current and recent conflicts. Published last November, the Landmine Monitor recorded 5,554 mine casualties in 2019, a very high […]
This Sunday, we will celebrate the International Day for Mine Awareness. On this day, HI is alarmed by an exceptionally high and complex level of contamination, particularly explosive remnants of war (ERW) and improvised mines following current and recent conflicts.
Published last November, the Landmine Monitor recorded 5,554 mine casualties in 2019, a very high number for the fifth consecutive year. 80% of them are civilians – children representing 43% of the civilian casualties.
Massive and repeated use of explosive weapons
These alarming statistics are directly linked to the massive use of explosive weapons in populated areas in recent conflicts (Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc.), including prohibited weapons such as anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq has been massive and continuous. This practice, which mostly kills and injures civilians, leaves many large areas contaminated by explosive remnants of war after the fighting has ceased. According to the United Nations, between January and October 2019 there were, on average, 184 explosive incidents per day in Syria. In 2018 the average was 187: 26.1% of the incidents were related to airstrikes, 69.9% to the use of heavy weapons and 4% to IEDs and other explosives.
In Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, etc., bombings and shelling have left explosive remnants of war that permanently contaminate large areas long after fighting has stopped. In neighbourhoods or villages that have been bombed, the presence of these explosive remnants of war threatens the lives of civilians and makes it impossible to return to normal social and economic life.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas and the sometimes unprecedented level of contamination left will require complex and long clearance operations in order to restore life to the local populations.
New form of contamination will require complex clearance operations
After years of conflict, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, etc. are contaminated by a vast range of explosive weapons including air delivered bombs, explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices and booby traps. Urban areas are the worst affected. In many cities in these countries, the ground is littered with rubble mixed with explosive remnants of war, improvised devices and booby traps left behind by the belligerent parties. In recent years, clearance operations have become much more complex and require humanitarian clearance organisations to adapt, re-equip and in some cases, re-train.
In the coming years, clearance operations face new and difficult challenges: In Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, etc., bombing and shelling in urban areas have left behind a large number of explosive remnants of war including bombs, missiles, projectiles, and improvised devices. In many cases these deadly items are mixed within the rubble of destroyed or partially destroyed buildings. In many places, this contamination is deliberately placed to target civilians and spread fear and death to those wishing to return home. This type of contamination is extremely dangerous and requires complex clearance operations. It also makes risk education sessions essential to teach the population safe behaviours and to respond to these dangers when faced with these deadly explosive devices.” Says Emmanuel Sauvage, Armed violence reduction Director at HI.
HI prepares itself for upcoming challenges
With its partner Mobility Robotics, HI in Chad has tested the use of drones to accelerate the clearance of land contaminated by mines and other explosive remnants of war and its release to the local population: HI is able to locate suspicious objects using drones equipped with cameras and create maps to better define places of intervention for deminers. HI is pioneering the use of infra-red camera to locate explosive ordnance buried in the ground. These new methods aim to accelerate land release activities in addition to making them safer, cost effective and efficient.