In recent times there has been much work done around the world to deal with the problem of landmines. And while there has been a lot of improvements and measures such as the Ottawa Treaty, there is still the need for equipment and experts to handle the disposal of landmines. But where is this still a problem and what is being done to handle it?
What is a landmine?
A landmine is a general term for any type of device that is designed to be anti-personnel or anti-vehicle weapons. While some classified improvised explosive devices or IEDs into this category, most will reserve it for manufactured devices that were originally aimed to be used by military services.
Landmines have long been a controversial type of weapon. This is because they are indiscriminate. They remain dangerous for many years after the conflict has ended and around 80% of people injured by landmines are civilians. Every year around 5,000 people are killed by them and there are nearly 80 countries around the world where landmines are present.
There are an estimated 110 million landlines in the ground around the world (2017) and the same or more waiting to be used or preferably destroyed. Landmine is a cost-effective killer with cost per unit between £3-30 but the cost of removing them can be anywhere from $300 to $1000 per mine. This means the estimated cost of removing all the world’s landlines is anywhere up to $100 billion.
Currently, the most landmine-affected countries are:
- Egypt (23 million, mostly in the regions around the borders)
- Angola (9-15 million)
- Afghanistan (10 million)
- Iraq (10 million)
- China (10 million)
- Cambodia (up to 10 million)
- Mozambique (2 million)
- Bosnia (2-3 million)
- Croatia (2 million)
- Somalia (2 million, mostly in the north)
Recently efforts have made a big difference but until this big global push to stop them, 100,000 mines were being removed each year – and around two million more were being planted. If demining stays at current levels, it will take 1100 years to clear all the world’s active land mines.
Landmines are most often found in countries where agriculture is the centre of the economy and are planted in fields, forests, near water sources, wells and even hydroelectric installations. This makes them risky or impossible to use. If Afghanistan and Cambodia had all their landmines removed, they could double their agricultural production.
Disposal of landmines
While this all paints a bleak picture, there are some points to be positive about. The advances in technology for the disposal of landmines is one big area – humanitarian mine clearance has a detection rate of 99.6% and constantly strives to reach 100% accuracy.
The Ottawa Treaty is another reason that much progress has been made in the area of landmines. The treaty came into force on March 1st, 1999 and was lead by the governments of Canada, Norway, South Africa and Mozambique along with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The treaty focuses on anti-personnel mines as these present the greatest long-term risk to people and needs just a few kilograms to trigger. Signatories of the treaty agreed not to use, produce, stockpile or trade in mines and there were 122 of these.
Dealing with the problem
A growing area is in civilian landmine disposal and Armtrac are pleased to offer a range of equipment to companies involved in this to help them with their efforts and protect their employees. This kind of work is key to reducing the risk of landmines around the world and bring forward that projected deadline of 1100 years to remove them all.