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New Mine Victims Reinforce the Need for Treaty
Regional Meeting on Landmines Opens in Bangkok
BANGKOK - April 2 - Continued landmine casualties in a number of Asian countries reinforce the need for these states to ban the weapon, said the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today at the opening of a regional meeting on landmines.
Almost half of the countries worldwide that still have not banned antipersonnel mines are in the Asia-Pacific region; a total of 16 governments from the region remain outside the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty (China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Lao PDR, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, Myanmar/Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vietnam). Worldwide, a total of 156 governments have joined the agreement, which celebrated ten years since its entry into force on 1 March 2009.
"The ongoing mine use in Burma stands in stark contrast to the complete rejection of mine use that we see elsewhere in the world," said Fred Lubang of Nonviolence International Southeast Asia, a leading ICBL member. "We call on all parties to the conflict in Burma to cease mine-laying and undertake urgent measures to clean up the weapon and assist victims."
Worldwide in recent years only Myanmar (Burma) and a few rebel groups have laid significant numbers of antipersonnel mines. In 2007, at least 438 new casualties caused by mines or explosive remnants of war were recorded in Myanmar (Burma), but the number of casualties is greatly underreported.
"Cambodia, Thailand and other affected states have made commendable progress in meeting the treaty's obligations, but this is no easy task," said Tamar Gabelnick, ICBL Treaty Implementation Director. "The ICBL strongly encourages all states to provide new commitments of cooperation and assistance in 2009, be it financial, technical, or in-kind support."
Government representatives from more than 17 countries are participating in the "Bangkok Workshop on Achieving a Mine-Free South-East Asia" this week. The workshop is the second in a series of regional meetings convened in the lead-up to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty's Second Review Conference, which will take place in Cartagena, Colombia in the week of 30 November 2009. The ICBL delegation includes landmine survivors from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The Mine Ban Treaty comprehensively bans all antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years, requires destruction of mines already in the ground within 10 years, and urges extensive programs to assist the victims of landmines. The ICBL, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, is a global coalition of more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations in 70 countries.