Syria using landmines to target civilians fleeing the country

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Syrian refugee woman holds her child

The Syrian government is laying landmines along its  borders with Lebanon and Turkey, according to a report by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

The landmines are targeted at civilians seeking to cross the border to flee violence in Syria.

The report says Syria was the only state using landmines this year, although, non-state armed groups in Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Thailand and Yemen; were also actively using the deadly weapons.

Mark Hinzy, the editor of the Landmine Monitor Report, says over 4,200 new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war were recorded in 2011 which translates to 12 casualties per day.

"We have information that laying of mines has continued in Syria, up to reports from October of this year. Previously in March we had documented the use of mines on Syria's borders with Turkey and Lebanon. This represents a mile stone for us having only one country using antipersonnel mines. Previous to that one country that has been on this list since we started publishing in 1999- that has been Burma or Myanmar. We have removed them from the list this year, citing no evidence that government or government affiliated forces have used the weapon. There are now 160 countries that have joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Three new since our last report and those are Finland, South Sudan and Somalia. With the addition of South Sudan and Somalia, all of Sub-Saharan Africa has joined the treaty."

The report further says there has been significant increase in landmine casualties in countries such as Libya, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria. International funding for victim assistance has however declined by more than 30 percent.

Patrick Maigua United Nations Radio, Geneva.


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