On Mine Awareness Day, Myanmar govt allocates $6m for landmine clearance

UN mine clearance in Cyprus. Photo: UNMAS/Lee Woodyear
UN mine clearance in Cyprus. Photo: UNMAS/Lee Woodyear

The Myanmar government announced yesterday that it will spend US$6 million on the eradication of landmines and unexploded ordnance in Shan State, Kachin State, Kayin State, and Taninthayi Region.

The announcement came during a ceremony for International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action in Nay Pyi Taw. The day is observed by the UN every April 4.

The funds will also be used to offer education on the danger of landmines, provide assistance for landmine victims, and compile data on landmines in Myanmar. These will be carried out by the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief, and Resettlement in conjunction with international and local organizations.

According to the ministry, 298 people in Myanmar were injured or killed by landmines in 2015 and 2016, and one person has been harmed by a landmine every three days. One in three landmine victims is a child, and one in every four is killed.

The Myanmar government has been working with UNICEF and other organizations to implement landmine risk education programs across nine regions and states, where 115,000 are at risk of harm by landmines and other ordnance.

However, landmine clearance in Myanmar appears to be dependent on the country’s abortive peace process. Several international landmine clearance organizations have people on the ground in Myanmar, but a lack of trust between rebel groups and the Tatmadaw have paralyzed their work. As of last year, they have not been able to clear any mines.

Furthermore, the Tatmadaw is still producing and planting landmines.

Thant Zin, the chairman of Humanitarian Mine Action Initiative (Myanmar), said at an event yesterday that it will take 30 years to survey and remove all of the landmines in Myanmar.

UNICEF representative Bertrand Bainvel told Eleven: “The government must take notice of landmine problem at a time when it places emphasis on peace. The government shouldn’t delay mine clearance work. If the landmines remain, children and whole communities will see fewer chances for a better life. It will be more difficult and more expensive to clear landmines in the future.”


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