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Richard Lloyd of Landmine Action
"There are new mine victims in 71 countries"
 real 28k

Thursday, 7 September, 2000, 08:48 GMT 09:48 UK
Campaign warns of UK landmine legacy
Landmine victim
Some anti-tank mines can be triggered by people
British companies are still producing anti-tank landmines which can be triggered by innocent civilians, according to campaigners.

They claim the UK has stocks of more than 163,000 non anti-personnel mines and is also known to have participated in 15 joint military operations involving anti-personnel mines over the past three years.


We have got a moral responsibility to help those living with our lethal legacy

Richard Lloyd, Landmine Action
The revelations have been made in the latest Landmine Monitor report released by Landmine Action and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

But the report stresses that the UK had been a strong advocate of the Ottawa Convention which outlaws the use of anti-personnel landmines.

The Ministry of Defence says its mines are used where necessary and would not contribute to "humanitarian hazard".

Lethal export

Richard Lloyd, director of Landmine Action, said one of the campaigners' main concerns was the continued manufacture and use of anti-tank mines despite the UK's role in promoting the treaty internationally.

"When fitted with sensitive fuses or anti-handling devices, they can be accidentally exploded by civilians and so have the same effect as anti-personnel mines," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Halo Trust clearing a landmine
Funding for landmine clearance has increased
"I think our supporters will be very surprised and disheartened to know that the MoD still stocks landmines and the UK still produces them."

He said the UK government had contributed 17m in 1999/2000 towards mine clearance, but much more was needed.

Mr Lloyd said that for many years, the UK was "one of the biggest exporters of landmines".

"These mines are still scattered around the world," he said.

"We have got a moral responsibility to help those living with our lethal legacy."

Reinterpretation

A Ministry of Defence spokesman stressed it still stocked mines - other than anti-personnel mines - which were "effective weapons to carry out necessary tasks".

Landmine Monitor report
Ottawa signatories up
Use of weapons falling
Producers down from 54 to 16
Fewer mine victims
Destruction of stockpiled mines
Increased funding for mine clearance
"We continue to use them where necessary, but we do not in any way that would contribute to humanitarian hazard," he said.

The spokesman said the Ottawa Convention did not apply to anti-vehicle mines.

He said other countries used "legal weapons in an illegal way" and warned against "reinterpreting" the convention, which could damage efforts to encourage other countries to sign up.

"The priority should be to attempt to get the large number of countries who have not signed up to Ottawa," he said.

Use continues

The report found that the heaviest use of mines since March 1999 was in Chechnya, especially by Russian forces, and in Kosovo, primarily by Yugoslav forces, but also by the Kosovo Liberation Army.

There was continued use of mines in Burma, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border, Senegal, Uganda, Somalia, Colombia, South Lebanon, Georgia, Turkey and Northern Iraq.

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See also:

04 Sep 00 | Wales
Calls for 'bomb factory' probe
08 Aug 00 | UK
Call for cluster bomb ban
29 Jan 99 | Angola
Landmines: War's deadly legacy
31 Jul 98 | UK Politics
Landmine facts and figures
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