Landmine casualties rose in Africa in 2014

Globally, landmine casualties in 2014 were up by 11% over 2013, 3,678 in 2014 compared to 3,308 in 2013. Most of that increase is attributed to the increased number of casualties from victim-activated improvised explosive devices which fall under the definition of landmines according to the Mine Ban Treaty (The Monitor).  1,296 Afghan casualties were recorded by the Landmine Monitor in 2014; in 2013 the Monitor recorded 1,050 casualties (The Monitor).  While that increase is substantial and important to highlight, several African countries also saw significant increases in the number of landmine and cluster munitions casualties.

Twenty-two African countries and two semi-autonomous regions reported landmine casualties in 2014.  This is an increase from 2013 when 19 countries and 2 regions reported casualties.  The total number of casualties in 2014 was 719, up 11% from the 2013 count of 646 and 14 countries reported an increase in the number of casualties from 2013.  Two countries, Chad and Mali, saw the highest increases with Chad reporting 79 landmine casualties, an increase from 9 the year before; Mali reported 144 casualties, up from 68 in 2013.

Figure 1 shows 2014 landmine and ERW casualties:

Capture1

Figure 2 shows the percent change in landmine and ERW casualties from 2013 to 2014:

Capture2

While not official, I also believe Angola (11 reported casualties), Libya (10 casualties) and Sudan (40 casualties) experienced more casualties than has been reported.  All three countries lack a centralized casualty reporting mechanism with casualty reports in Angola coming from demining organizations; in Sudan casualty reports are compiled from three separate United Nations missions; Libya was in a state of civil war in 2014.  In Angola I heard from some of the mine action organizations that they believed there were casualties in their working areas that went unreported.  In Sudan, casualties may have occurred in the heavily mined states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, but because of the conflict there would have gone unreported.  Most mine action organizations in Libya were forced to re-locate due to the conflict and so reliable data was, and continues to be, unavailable.  Also, Eritrea and Ethiopia both reported no landmine casualties in 2014, but it is possible that, similar to Angola, landmine injuries may have occurred in remote areas and gone unreported to the proper authorities.

Increases in landmine casualties result from a number of factors including new usage of mines, displacement of populations to or through mine-affected areas, returns of displaced populations to areas that became mine-affected during the period of displacement, changes in land use and better data collection processes.  All of these occurred on the continent in 2014 and each country which experienced an increase could attribute that increase to one or more factors.

Early indications suggest that 2015’s landmine casualties will be similar if not increasing again over 2014. Also, thanks to the GICHD / SIPRI initiative, anti-vehicle mine incidents are also being tracked which may provide additional insights in landmine casualty dynamics.

Michael P. Moore

December 30, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

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