Myanmar landmine, unexploded ordnance casualties nearly triple: UN

More than one in five of the victims were children, according to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF

Landmines and unexploded munitions killed or wounded almost three people every day in Myanmar last year, the United Nations said Thursday, an almost threefold increase from the previous year as the country’s civil conflict rages.

The military’s ouster of Aung San Suu Kyi’s government in 2021 sparked renewed fighting with ethnic rebel groups as well as with pro-democracy People’s Defence Forces in areas previously untouched by decades of conflict in Myanmar.

More than 2.5 million people have since been displaced by the fighting.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reported 1,052 verified civilian casualties from landmines or unexploded ordnance during 2023.

That figure was nearly triple the 390 incidents recorded in 2022. Over 20 percent of the victims were children, it said.

The Southeast Asian nation is not a signatory to the UN convention that prohibits the use, stockpiling or development of anti-personnel mines.

Myanmar’s military has been repeatedly accused of atrocities and war crimes during decades of internal conflict.

All sides in the current conflict were using landmines “indiscriminately,” UNICEF said.

More than one-third of casualties were reported in northern Sagaing Region, an area that was largely peaceful before the coup but has since emerged as a hotspot of resistance to military rule.

In recent months the junta has lost swathes of territory in border areas and analysts say it is relying more on air and artillery strikes to support its embattled troops.

In 2020, the year before the coup, there were 254 landmine casualties nationwide, according to UNICEF.

A local monitoring group says the military’s crackdown on dissent has killed more than 4,800 people and jailed more than 26,000.

The junta claims that more than 6,000 people have been killed by anti-coup fighters and allied ethnic rebels since the coup.

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