Govt prevents landmine clearance

Zarli Myint Oo

In first four months of 2017, more than 100 landmine blasts have injured several people, says the country's Humanitarian Mine Action Initiative.

The landmine blasts mostly took place in northern areas where the four allied rebel groups are fighting the government troops this year. When combined with blasts in other areas, the number of blasts exceeded 100,” said Thant Zin, chairman for the initiative.

Most people were injured by the recent landmine blasts in Kachin, Shan, east Bago and Kayin. And at least 45 townships in Kayah, Mon and Tanintharyi were found to be vulnerable to the landmines.

Organisations helping those injured by landmines said there were more than 400 landmine blasts that caused injuries in 2016.

“The landmines are not cleared. There are about seven domestic and foreign organisations interested in clearing them. But they’re still not granted permission from the government. We are one of these groups. Our country is working for the peace process for more than five years. Eight armed groups already signed the 2015 nationwide ceasefire agreement. The government is still working to persuade other ethnic groups to join the agreement. What we found out is that demining is not a priority issue. It’s very regrettable. The peace process is nonsense without demining,” Thant Zin added. 

Currently the government only permits education about landmines and providing support for those injured.

The International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action was held on April 4 in Yangon.

Last year’s report from the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitoring group said it had no idea how many mines were spread across the country.