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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 16:51 GMT 17:51 UK
Landmines remain global problem
Tamil Tiger searches for mines in Sri Lanka
A Tamil Tiger rebel clears mines in Palai, Sri Lanka
India and Pakistan are engaged in a massive landmine-laying operation along their disputed border in Kashmir according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The ICBL, in a detailed report monitoring the use of landmines after the 1997 Geneva treaty to ban them, says it is possibly the largest deployment of mines in decades.

But, two out of nine governments listed as still using mines, Angola and Sri Lanka, have stopped using them this year, after ceasefires were declared.

Nevertheless, anti-personnel mines have continued to be used extensively by the governments of Burma and Russia and, to a lesser extent, in Nepal, Somalia and Georgia, the ICBL said.

Many deaths

A Russian landmine common in Afghanistan
Russian mines: Commonly found in Afghanistan
The Landmine Monitor report says numerous civilians and soldiers have died as a result of the landmines laid on both sides of the Line of Control in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Mary Wareham, the report's global co-ordinator, said: "Mine-laying in India and Pakistan is startling because of the length of the border and the length of the minefields and their proximity to villages and farming land."

The 922-page document, the fourth annual report compiled by the ICBL, is due to be presented next week in Geneva at a meeting of countries that have ratified the 1997 treaty to ban the production, sale and use of landmines.

Ms Wareham said the ICBL had urged countries that have signed the treaty to complain to the Indian and Pakistani Governments about the mine-laying.

Destroyed


Mine-laying in India and Pakistan is startling because of the length of the border... and their proximity to villages and farming land

Mary Wareham: ICBL author
However, the report said more than seven million stockpiled mines were destroyed by states last year, bringing to 34 million the number destroyed since the treaty was negotiated.

A total of 125 countries have ratified the landmine treaty, and another 18 have signed it but have not yet ratified.

The ICBL said more than a dozen governments, including Afghanistan, Greece, Indonesia, Turkey and Yugoslavia, had announced their intention to join soon.

However, the United States, Russia and China are among 50 countries that so far have refused to sign the treaty.

The US is believed to have a stockpile of 11.2 million landmines.

See also:

28 Jul 02 | South Asia
08 Apr 02 | England
20 Apr 01 | Entertainment
28 Jul 02 | South Asia
23 May 02 | UK
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