World

Over 160 nations agree to speed land-mine clearing

AFP-JIJI

AFP-JIJI — The 164 signatory countries to the Mine Ban Treaty agreed Friday to accelerate the work to achieve the goal of a “mine-free” world in 2025, Norway’s foreign ministry said.

According to an annual report by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, 6,897 people were killed or injured by mines and other explosive remnants of war in 2018 — the fourth year in a row with “exceptionally high numbers of recorded casualties.”

Of those, 3,789 were victims of so-called improvised mines, the highest recorded number to date.

Under the Oslo Action Plan adopted on Friday, states undertake to “identify mined areas and put in place national plans for mine clearance.”

They also commit to measuring their progress in the final stretch before 2025, the goal set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in 1997.

The meeting in Oslo was the last in a series of five-year meetings to implement the treaty drafted in 1997, which helped to put an end to virtually all use of land mines by governments, including those that did not sign it.

Armed groups are, however, increasingly using improvised anti-personnel mines. According to Landmine Monitor, nonstate groups used this type of weapon last year in at least six countries: Afghanistan, India, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen.

Since the treaty’s adoption nearly 58 million mines have been removed by clearing minefields and destroying stockpiles, according to Norway.

Efforts to rid the world of these weapons were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, which was given to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and U.S. citizen Jody Williams.