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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 18:36 GMT
War on landmines 'shows success'
Mine clearance in Afghanistan
The number of victims of mines fell in Afghanistan
Efforts to eradicate the use of land mines are succeeding - but thousands of people were still killed or injured by them last year, says a new report.

The 2004 Landmine Monitor report says 8,065 deaths and injuries were reported last year - a drop of 3% on 2002.

But it says the vast majority of deaths and injuries - about 15,000-20,000 cases a year - go unreported.

A total of 143 countries have ratified a 1999 treaty banning landmines - but they exclude the US, Russia and China.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) launched the 2004 report at Nato headquarters in the Belgian capital Brussels.

Landmine Monitor is compiled by Human Rights Watch, Handicap International Belgium, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, Mines Action Canada and Norwegian People's Aid.

The report says that in the five years since the Ottawa treaty took force, 65 countries have destroyed their stockpiles of landmines - a total of about 37 million anti-personnel landmines.

Jody Williams, one of the founders of the ICBL who won the Nobel Peace Prize with the group in 1997, said the treaty had taken firm hold around the world.

"But even bigger challenges remain, to convince hold-out governments to come on board, to get mines out of the ground within the 10-year deadline, and to provide adequate assistance to landmine victims," she said.

Landmines
A stigma has been attached to this weapon, and even those who have not signed the treaty are reluctant to use it
Stephen Goose
Human Rights Watch
"If we continue to work together we will see a world where there are no mines and no victims," she said.

The report suggests 42 countries still have about 180 million mines - with China, Russia and the United States holding the largest stockpiles.

It says there is "compelling evidence" that Georgia, Burma, Nepal and Russia have used mines since 2003.

It also estimates there are up to 400,000 survivors living with landmine injuries in 121 countries - many of whom do not receive proper care.

But the number of reported victims of landmines fell from 8,333 in 2002 to 8,065 in 2003, a drop of 3.2%.

The number fell in some of the countries worst affected by landmines. Afghanistan, Cambodia and Bosnia-Herzegovina showed the most improvement.

Campaigners said they were optimistic that in spite of the refusal of some countries to sign up to the treaty, the tide was turning on landmine use.

"A stigma has been attached to this weapon, and even those who have not signed the treaty are reluctant to use it," Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch said, according to news agency AFP.


SEE ALSO:
Bangladesh starts clearing mines
02 Nov 04 |  South Asia
US promises 'safer' landmines
27 Feb 04 |  Americas
Landmine stocks 'over 200 million'
10 Sep 03 |  In Depth


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