Now in its ninth year, the conflict in North East Nigeria has developed into a major regional crisis. With fighting having spread into neighbouring areas of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, the Lake Chad basin has seen some of the world’s most intense conflict and large-scale displacement. This is exacerbating a protracted conflict and humanitarian emergency in the region. An estimated 7.7 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance in Borno, Adamawaand Yobestates. Over half of them are children.
North East Nigeria is now facing a landmine crisis as a result of the conflict involving Boko Harem and its splinter groups. Some areas remain under Boko Harem’s control with large parts of Borno State remaining inaccessible due to the ongoing conflict.
Research from MAG International shows that 439 casualties from some 144 accidents involving landmines and unexploded bombs took place between early 2016 and 2018. Casualty figures reached 19 people per month in 2017, with thirty per cent of those civilians killed were children. Averaging one person killed or injured in the region every 1.5 days, Nigeria now has one of the ten highest casualty rates in the world.
Most of the accidents took place on roads and involved anti-personnel landmines. Of the 439 casualties, 144 were civilians. Many of the casualties and fatalities were among security or military personnel accompanying civilian convoys between towns in Local Government Areas, as well as in towns and villages. There is also information showing that communities in garrison towns are exposed to the risk of accidents when collecting water and firewood and carrying out other essential activities.
Nigeria is the first state in Africa to encounter the new use of locally-manufactured landmines on this scale. This comes after the international community have already faced a new landmine emergency in the Middle East in areas retaken from Daesh.
Humanitarian Organisations, including MAG, are fully involved in providing some of the pillars of Mine Action; particularly Mine Risk Education and Victim Assistance. Humanitarian Demining and area clearance is an expensive and protracted process but once the appropriate national and international funding is in place and the necessary surveys have been undertaken, the business of methodical clearance can take place.
The Army Engineers in Nigeria are already engaged in reducing the threat from landmines. Three Armtrac 400s were procured by the Nigerian MOD in 2016 and are deployed in the North East of the Country but these were principally ordered for Force Protection requirements. What is needed now is a fully integrated and comprehensive response, not only to support the potential victims of the crisis but to fully capture the extent and nature of the landmine contamination so that follow-on demining activities can reduce the threat of landmines for future generations.
Armtrac works closely with clients across the world with the supply of our demining machinery and equipment for use on military clearance operations in conflict zones as well as with commercial and NGO organisations operating in post-conflict environments.
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