Clearing the Ground for Post-Conflict Reconstruction
Around the world, the use of landmines continues to ensure that war-torn countries will have a long road to peace and reconstruction. Recent research indicates that the international community urgently needs to step up its efforts to clear existing minefields in a more targeted and coordinated fashion.
LONDON – This year marks the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. Since the treaty entered into force, armed conflicts in Africa and elsewhere have steadily receded, and democratization, coupled with international monitoring, has led to a reduction in the use of landmines and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) worldwide. At the same time, inspiring individuals and organizations have continued to navigate difficult environments to assist victims and clear minefields.
But that progress is now at risk. According to the Landmine Monitor 2018,the use of landmines/IEDs is rising at an alarming pace, as are fatalities and injuries from these devices. Most of the casualties are in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Nigeria, Myanmar, and Libya, where rebel militias, government forces, and extremist groups such as the Islamic State have laid new minefields. Because of past and ongoing contamination, the explosive remnants of war continue to affect the lives of millions of people, particularly civilians and children, in around 50 countries.
As the international community focuses primarily on limiting the use of landmines, preventing deaths, and assisting the injured, much less attention goes to how these devices threaten post-conflict recovery efforts. The estimated one million IEDs deployed in Yemen and thousands of similar devices in Syria narrow considerably the path to peace and reconstruction in these countries.