MONTREAL, Nov. 26, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - One week before the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Handicap International denounces the intolerable threat and consequences that explosive weapons represent on civilians and the lack of States' commitment to eradicate this scourge and assist the victims.
According to the 2015 Landmine Monitor report, co-produced by Handicap International and released today, 3,678 people were killed or injured by mines or explosive remnants of war in 2014, an increase of 12% compared with 2013. The report also underlines a steady rise in the use of improvised explosive devices by non-State armed groups.
Anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices kill, maim and cause serious sequelae for casualties - 80% of whom are civilians. Their presence close to water points or public infrastructures poses a permanent threat and slows the development of the countries in question.
In addition, the slow pace of demining operations in several countries has thrown into doubt the political will of certain States to meet their obligations, while 57 States and 4 territories are still contaminated by mines.
This expertise in mine action, acquired since the early 80's and for which the organization shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, allows Handicap International to issue a warning about the devastating humanitarian impact of the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, as the majority of the recent – and current – conflicts demonstrate.
Explosive weapons include a variety of munitions such as mortars, rockets, artillery shells, air-dropped bombs and improvised explosive devices (IED). They also include anti-personnel mines banned under the Ottawa Convention, which entered into force in 1999, and cluster munitions, banned under the Oslo Convention (2008). They cause lasting disabilities and psychological trauma.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas increases the worst aspects of a conflict for civilians, including displacement and the destruction of infrastructure such as homes, schools and hospitals, forcing families into poverty, destroying livelihoods and limiting access to services.
In 2014, the NGO Human Rights Watch documented the use of explosive weapons in populated areas in violation of international humanitarian law in at least 12 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Israel/Gaza, Ukraine, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Thailand and Colombia.
As for its fight against landmines and cluster munitions, Handicap International calls all States to take strong commitment in banning the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, in reaffirming the principles of the International Humanitarian Law and in strengthening the support to civilians at risk and to the survivors of these weapons, including people with disabilities and their families.
Landmine monitor: http://bit.ly/1Hmhvno
SOURCE Handicap International
For further information: Jérôme Bobin, Handicap International Canada, 514-908-2813 ext 220, [email protected]