The number of people killed by land mines across the globe rose in 2014, driven largely by the use of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, according to a report released Thursday.
Around 10 people every day in 2014 were killed or wounded by land mines, which are bombs designed to explode when stepped on or run over. The vast majority of the victims—80 percent—were civilians, with 4 out of 10 children.
“While the world has made great progress, the past year has seen disturbing steps backward in terms of new use of and casualties from land mines,” said Jeff Abramson, editor of the report released by the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, in a press release.
“These weapons instill fear in communities, whose citizens often know they are walking in mined areas, but have no possibility to farm other land, or take another route to school,” states the report.
“This rise in casualties, after so many years, highlights the absolute need for safeguarding all the principles of the Mine Ban Treaty, both during and after conflict,” said Loren Persi, casualties and victims assistance editor of the report.
Despite the uptick in 2014, casualties have nonetheless fallen dramatically over the last 15 years: In 1999, the year a global treaty banning the use of land mines came into effect, there were roughly 25 people injured or killed by land mines every day.
However, according to the report, “numerous casualties go unrecorded, especially in conflict settings; therefore, the true casualty figure is anticipated to be much higher.”
A man holds an anti-personnel land mine found in Sri Lanka. | Photo: Reuters.
Between October 2014 and October 2015, three governments were found to have used land mines: Myanmar, North Korea and Syria, the latter having begun planting them in 2011. None of the countries are signatories to the treaty.
However, the weapon was most frequently deployed by non-state actors, who used them in 10 countries, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.
Afghanistan was by far the leading contributor to the rise in casualties, with 1,296 people killed or injured by land mines in 2014.
The report comes ahead of a Nov. 30 meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, of the 162 states that have signed the Mine Ban Treaty.
Neither Russia, China, India nor the United States have signed the agreement.