How long have land mines been in use?

Again more dead and injured by landmines

The number of victims of mines and their explosive remains last year reached the highest level since the turn of the millennium. At least 8,605 people were killed or injured by such explosive devices in 2016. This is what the aid organization Handicap International reports in its "Landmine Monitor". Only in the first year of recording, 1999, were more deaths and injuries recorded, with more than 9,000 victims.

New trouble spots

Most of the victims in 2016 were in Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Ukraine. Never before have so many children been among the injured and killed. According to the organization, 42 percent of all victims were minors. The conflicts in Syria and Myanmar had created new trouble spots in recent years, where landmines played a sad role. For example, Syrian government troops have been using anti-personnel mines since 2012. The terrorist militia "Islamic State" also used such often fatal traps.

Myanmar is said to have laid more mines along the border to prevent members of the Rohingya Muslim minority who fled to Bangladesh from returning.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    Over ten million landmines worldwide

    There is no precise information on how many landmines are in the ground around the world. But it is estimated that there are millions. They lie there even after the wars and endanger people's lives. The so-called Ottawa Convention, which seeks to ban the use, storage, production and trade in anti-personnel mines, has 162 members.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    The "Mine Kafon": Mine clearing of the future

    It looks like a dandelion and is also driven by the wind: the "Mine Kafon". It was developed by Massoud Hassani from Afghanistan and has 175 circular plastic plates attached to bamboo poles. He is about the size and weight of the average man and causes mines to explode when the wind blows it over landscapes.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    "Mine Kafon": Fighting mines with the wind

    Hassani's inspiration for his "Mine Kafon" came from a toy from his childhood that was also powered by wind. Thanks to the Dutch Ministry of Defense, the prototype is currently being tested and further developed. A research and development team is currently improving the design to make it not only safer but also suitable for all terrains.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    Flying mine detonators

    Hassani (right) is also working on a "Mine Kafon drone" that can detect mines using sensors and grab them with an extendable arm in order to then detonate them in a safe place. According to Hassani, the invention, which is still being optimized, is faster and cheaper than existing technologies. It could help rid the world of landmines in the future.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    A nose for mines

    The Belgian NGO APODO breeds rats that can smell mines and are already used in several countries. With their extremely good sense of smell, the animals are trained to detect the explosive trinitrotoluene. This makes clearing landmines faster and helps make the land usable again. According to the NGO, no rats have died at work so far.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    Mine sniffers at work

    Not only rats have a nose for mines, but dogs too. After months of training, they too can track down explosives. The Marshall Legacy Institute first introduced the canine program in 1999. Since then, dogs have scoured nearly 45 square kilometers of contaminated land. More than 900 dogs are now used in 24 countries around the world to track down mines.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    Equipment of war against mines

    It looks like a combination of a tank and a combine, and that's how it works. This Aardvark landmine removal device is equipped with 72 chains that rattle across the ground, causing mines to explode without harming the vehicle or the driver. The device can cover an area the size of four football fields per day.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    Long lasting dangers

    Once buried, land mines are active for more than 50 years. They are not only a danger to people who come into contact with them. They also make the repatriation of refugees and displaced persons more difficult and slow down development and reconstruction in the post-war years.

  • The legacy of the landmines

    Injuries for a lifetime

    There are only 11 countries left, including China and Russia, that continue to produce landmines. A major step towards combating mines has already been taken since the implementation of the Ottowa Convention. But there are still challenges ahead of us as long as mines are buried in the ground and kill, maim and disfigure people.

    Author: Tamsin Walker

Ukraine leads the field

According to a UN survey, the war in eastern Ukraine caused more landmine deaths this year than any other conflict in the world. As the UN representative in the Eastern European country, Neal Walker, announced in early December, 103 people were killed or injured along the front line between January and September.

But there is also good news: for the first time since monitoring by the organization Handicap International, there was no documented use of landmines there after the end of the conflict in Colombia last year.

The so-called Ottawa Convention, which is dedicated to the fight against landmines, was signed 20 years ago. The international treaty prohibits the use, production, storage and transfer of landmines. 162 countries have signed it so far, now Handicap International has announced another signatory to the agreement with Sri Lanka:

fab / stu (dpa, epd)