Landmine Monitor 2000

International Committee of the Red Cross

The contribution of this paper does not necessarily imply the association of the ICRC with views or statements made in other chapters of Landmine Monitor.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is pleased to have been invited to contribute to the second edition of Landmine Monitor. The inaugural edition proved itself to be an invaluable tool to all those involved in the landmine issue. The Landmine Monitor has established itself as an important reference point for research on the world-wide landmine problem and the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel mines (Ottawa treaty). It will surely continue to be an essential resource in the future work in these areas.

Introduction

Nineteen ninety-nine was a remarkable year in the effort to eliminate anti-personnel mines. The entry into force of the Ottawa treaty on 1 March 1999 and the first meeting of States Parties were unprecedented events. Never before had a multilateral arms-related agreement become international law so quickly and rarely do States Parties come together immediately after entry into force to begin collectively discussing and examining a convention's universalization and implementation. The creation of Standing Committees of Experts (SCE's) to continue work on implementation between annual meetings of States Parties also reflected the international community's commitment to act expeditiously in the clearing of land, the destruction of stockpiles and the provision of assistance to mine victims.

Perhaps even more importantly, 1999 also saw tangible results in terms of lives and limbs saved. Some mine-affected countries have witnessed a decrease in the number of mine casualties. Cambodia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, in particular, have seen the number of accidents decline significantly in recent years. While a variety of factors may have contributed to this welcome development, concerted mine action in both countries has certainly made an important contribution.

Yet, 1999 also reminded the world of the realities of mine contamination and the difficulties facing many mine-affected countries. The floods of Mozambique wiped out years of dedicated mine clearance by national and international agencies. Fresh or continued use of mines in some conflicts brought new reports of death, injury and suffering. These actualities are the most powerful reminders of the work which remains to be done and the need for all actors to continue their efforts to universalize the Ottawa treaty and make its obligations a world-wide reality on the ground.

Throughout 1999, the ICRC continued its work to promote universal adherence to, and implementation of, the Ottawa treaty. Through its operations in lands affected by armed conflict, the ICRC also brought relief to mine victims and mine-affected communities. This annex provides an update of the institution's work in each of these areas. It also highlights some issues which remain a concern to the institution and other actors involved in the landmine issue.

Humanitarian diplomacy: promoting universalization and implementation

The historic entry into force of the Ottawa treaty was accompanied by a rapid succession of ratifications. During 1999, an impressive 32 States became party to the treaty. Thus, by years end, a total of 139 States -- over two thirds of the countries in the world -- were bound to a prohibition on anti-personnel mines through their signature or ratification of the treaty. This was a clear indication that ending the use of anti-personnel mines had become the international norm.

These developments brought a corresponding change to the work of encouraging adherence to and implementation of the treaty. Instead of convening large international conferences, most efforts began to focus on promoting ratification in specific regions or countries. Less emphasis was placed on why a comprehensive ban was necessary and the discussion turned to the implications of the treaty and the nuts and bolts of implementation. Today, even States which are unable to adhere at this time recognize the need for drastic action to limit the effects of anti-personnel mines and foresee their eventual elimination.

For its part, the ICRC organized two meetings in 1999 in regions were ratifications have been slow in coming. The first meeting took place in Wadduwa, Sri Lanka in August, where, for the first time ever, representatives of the ministries of defence and foreign affairs of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka gathered to discuss the landmine issue. Participants recognized the importance of a ban on anti-personnel mines and their eventual elimination. Participants also identified measures, short of ratifying the Ottawa treaty, which could nonetheless further the region along this path.

A meeting was also held in Nyeri, Kenya in October for Kenyan military and foreign affairs officials. As Kenya is a signatory to the Ottawa treaty this meeting focussed primarily on implementation issues. The military, legislative and administrative implications of adherence were discussed in detail. This meeting was convened at the request of the Attorney-General of Kenya in an effort to facilitate the passing of national legislation which would enable the country to deposit its instrument of ratification in the near future.

ICRC representatives also participated in meetings organized by governments and other organizations in the following locations:

  • Mexico City, Mexico, organized by the Mexican and Canadian governments and the Organization of American States;
  • Tunis, Tunisia, organized by the Institut Arabes des droits de l'homme;
  • Beirut, Lebanon, organized by the National Demining Office of the Lebanese army and the Landmines Resource Centre of Balamand University;
  • Zagreb, Croatia, organized by the Croatian government, the Croatian Mine Action Centre and the Croatian Red Cross Society;
  • Lagos, Nigeria, organized by the Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace Advocacy
  • Tbilissi, Georgia, organized by the Georgian Campaign to Ban Landmines and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

In addition to providing expertise to these meetings, the ICRC also supplied documentation and videos. Its Ottawa treaty exhibition was also frequently used by conference organizers. In 1999, a third exhibition was launched to promote understanding of the treaty in Arabic speaking countries. The exhibition is currently on tour in the Middle East and North Africa.

Nineteen ninety-nine also saw the release of "The Ottawa treaty: towards a world free of anti-personnel mines". This information video provides an overview of the content and implementation of the treaty for the general public and others aware of the landmine issue. It has been produced in seven languages and has been widely distributed.

Mine Awareness

The ICRC also continued its efforts to prevent mine accidents through its mine/UXO awareness programs. Already established community-based programs in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the region of Nagorny-Karabakh continue to conduct training, organise mine awareness events and find ways to make affected villages safer for residents. In early 2000, the ICRC mine awareness program in Azerbaijan was transferred to the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action.

In 1999 new mine awareness programs were started in Albania and the region of Kosovo. A short summary of these programs is provided below.

Albania

The ICRC has worked closely with the Albanian Red Cross to alert the population about the dangers of weapons since 1997. These efforts were in response to the widespread availability of arms brought about by the civil unrest of that year. As a result of the conflict in Kosovo, however, a formal mine/UXO awareness program was launched in Albania due to the presence of mines and unexploded cluster bomb submunitions along the northern border of the country. As an initial response, leaflets and posters were printed and distributed in communities near the affected areas. Later, information was passed through Albanian Red Cross volunteers in Kukes and other villages in the region. Today, fifteen volunteers and one co-ordinator from the Albanian Red Cross have been trained by the ICRC and conduct mine awareness.

The mine/UXO awareness program in Albania also helps facilitate the physical rehabilitation of those who have been injured by these weapons. Through mine awareness volunteers, victims are informed about the availability of protheses from a clinic in Tirana. The ICRC provides raw material to the clinic and victims are provided protheses and fitting free of charge. The ICRC ensures the transportation and accommodation for patients during their stay.

Kosovo

In response to the conflict in Kosovo, a mine awareness information campaign was initially launched in the Macedonian and Albanian refugee camps in May 1999. With the return of large numbers of refugees following the end of the fighting in June, the ICRC launched a full mine/UXO awareness program throughout the region.

Similar to programs it operates elsewhere, ICRC mine awareness in Kosovo is community based. Twelve locally recruited mine awareness officers have been trained to visit localities which are believed to be mine/UXO-affected, collect preliminary data on the problem, teach local volunteers how to conduct training and work with residents to make the village safer. By the end of March 2000, ICRC mine awareness officers had visited 350 mine/UXO-affected villages. These visits will continue until all such villages have been assessed. Follow-up visits and support for community volunteers are ongoing and will continue for as long as the mine/UXO threat exists.

Through its experience in conducting mine awareness in a number of countries, the ICRC has learned that mine awareness officers are an important interface between a community and the mine/UXO clearance organisations. In Kosovo, data on the local mine/UXO problem is collected with the help of the community. Data and requests for clearance and marking are then passed on to UNMAC and mine clearance organizations through the ICRC. This allows the organizations to prioritise the marking and clearing of land according to the community's needs.

In order to ensure that the affected communities receive timely responses to their requests, and thus see concrete results for their efforts, the ICRC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Swiss Federation for Mine Clearance (FSD). Under this agreement, FSD clearance teams respond to urgent demands for clearance or marking forwarded to it by the ICRC. The clearance teams then work with the communities to develop a plan to address the problem. This close collaboration in the field allows mine-affected communities to be directly involved in the technical response to the mine/UXO problem in their village. If a request can not be addressed, FSD provides explanation directly to the community.

Data collection

An important aspect of ICRC mine awareness programs is the collection of data about mine incidents. In addition to providing information about the location of mined areas, this data is also necessary to understand the impact of mines on local communities and mine victims in order to better respond to their needs. The most comprehensive ICRC data collection program is in Bosnia and Herzegovina where the ICRC has been gathering and analyzing data since 1995. As at 31 March 2000, the ICRC had recorded 4313 people killed or injured by mines or UXO. Detailed tables based on ICRC statistics are found in the Landmine Monitor country report for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Overall, the number of mine accidents in that country has steadily declined since 1996 and this trend continued through 1999.

The ICRC also collects data in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Information in Kosovo is collected in support of the ICRC mine awareness program and forwarded to the UN Mine Action Center In Kosovo. The ICRC is one of the primary contributors of data to the UNMAC and its IMSMA database.

Below is a brief summary of some of the data collected by the ICRC in Kosovo through 31 December 1999. As at that date, the ICRC had registered a total of 208 victims of mines, cluster bomb submunitions or other UXO. The ICRC plans to publish a report examining the socio-economic impact of these weapons in greater detail in August 2000.

1. Injury by type of device

Device
Number of incidents
Percentage of Total
AP mine
65
31.71
AV mine
13
6.34
Cluster subm.
60
29.27
Other UXO
21
10.24
Booby trap
10
4.88
Other
9
4.39
Unknown
27
13.17
Total
205
100.00

 

2. Incident by month

Month
Number of Incidents
Percentage of Total
Feb.
4
1.94
March
6
2.91
April
6
2.91
May
11
5.34
June
52
25.24
July
40
19.42
August
20
9.71
Sept.
27
13.11
Oct.
23
11.17
Nov.
9
4.37
Dec.
8
3.88
Total
206
100.00

 

3. Incident by gender

Sex
Number of incidents
Percentage of total
Female
9
4.64
Male
181
93.30
Unknown
4
2.06
Total
194
100.00

Mine Victim assistance

Providing aid and assistance to victims of war is one of the primary activities of the ICRC. The ICRC often provides medical and surgical assistance during and immediately following armed conflicts. Currently, the institution supports medical facilities in 22 countries.[51] In many cases these are the principal facilities in these areas treating mine victims and other war wounded. The doctors and nurses are trained to deal with war wounded and able to meet the specific surgical and medical needs of mine victims.

The construction and fitting of prostheses remain an important part of the assistance ICRC provides directly to mine victims. During 1999, the ICRC opened 7 new rehabilitation clinics brining the total number of ICRC projects to 29 operating in 14 countries. New clinics were opened in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Each project provides rehabilitation services free of charge to war wounded, a majority of which are often mine victims, and other people in need. Such services include new protheses or orthoses, fitting, training and, in some cases, transport and accommodation during his or her stay.

In 1999 the ICRC produced record number of protheses. In total, 14,383 protheses were manufactured and of these 8,896, or approximately 62%, were for mine victims (see table below). This proportion has remained fairly constant over the last 3 years yet percentages between projects can vary significantly. In 1998, 6,996 (58%) of the 11,977 protheses produced were for mine victims. In 1997, 7,201 (63%) of 11,354 protheses were for people who lost limbs due to mines. Clinics in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia and Iraq produced the largest percentage of protheses for mine injured. In these clinics the proportion of protheses for mine victims in relation to those made for other patients was 72% (3929 out of 4565), 80% ( 1625 out of 2016), 95% ( 1481 out of 1553) and 55% (1945 out of 3518) respectively. Such numbers are not surprising given that these are among the most heavily mine-affected countries in the world.

ICRC Prosthetic/Orthotic Programmes

STATISTICS FOR 1999

Countries
Newly Registered Amputees Fitted With Prostheses
Number Of Prostheses Manufactured
Number Of Prostheses Manufactured For Mine Victims
Newly Registered Patients Fitted With Orthoses
Number Of Orthoses Manufactured
Pairs Of Crutches Manufactured
Wheelchairs Manufactured
AFGHANISTAN
2,124
4,565
3,292
3,463
5,519
9,016
855
ANGOLA
830
2,016
1,625
21
30
1,921
0
AZERBAIDJAN
184
442
34
75
109
769
0
CAMBODIA
703
1,553
1,481
288
362
4,710
0
GEORGIA
234
623
137
229
393
401
0
IRAQ
2,692
3,518
1,945
1,916
2,878
1,743
0
KENYA
142
390
87
123
153
727
0
R.D. CONGO
239
250
18
3
3
85
0
RWANDA**
31
37
7
172
236
368
0
SRI LANKA
141
141
86
16
19
0
35
SUDAN
250
531
97
110
169
332
0
TADJIKISTAN
188
200
32
0
0
247
0
UGANDA
106
117
55
22
38
0
0
TOTAL
7,864
14,383
8,896
6,438
9,909
20,319
890

**from January to May 99, then withdraw Swill Red Cross

In addition to the 29 programs it runs today, the ICRC continues to assist physical rehabilitation projects formerly operated by it, but which have now been handed over to local organizations, government ministries, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies or non-governmental organizations. Resources for this assistance comes from the ICRC-administered Special Fund for the Disabled (SFD). During 1999, 58 projects in 33 countries received assistance from the fund and produced a total of 7,085 prostheses. These projects assisted all those in need of their services, including mine victims.

Issues related to treaty implementation

In the first edition of Landmine Monitor the ICRC expressed its concern about anti-vehicle mines with sensitive anti-handling devices and sensitive fusing mechanisms. Briefly restated, the concern was that as States began to eliminate anti-personnel mines from their arsenals they would increase their reliance on anti-vehicle mines, particularly those equipped with anti-handling devices. In the opinion of the ICRC, the use of anti-vehicle mines with anti-handling devices is permitted by the Ottawa treaty so long as the anti-handling device does not activate by innocent or inadvertent contact. Similarly, anti-vehicle mines which can be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a person are prohibited as they fall under the definition of an anti-personnel mine found in Article 2 of the treaty. The ICRC has produced an information paper explaining this position in more detail.

The ICRC remains concerned about these issues and believes that States must examine anti-vehicle mines they currently possess, or any that they may develop or procure in the future, in light of the definitions contained in the Ottawa treaty. Only through such an examination can a potentially new humanitarian problem be averted. The ICRC will continue to work with States and participants in the Standing Committee of Experts on the Status and Implementation of the Convention to address these issues.

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[51]The countries are: Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iraq, Kenya (for those injured in Sudan), Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Russia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Uganda, Uzbekistan, and Yugoslavia.