Emergency mine risk activities should come first before demining

With 61 explosions of landmines and unexploded explosions in 2020, Rakhine State experienced the highest number of explosions in 2020. Rakhine becomes a state with mine-contaminated places threatening civilians including children.
The deaths and injuries by landmines and unexploded ordnance-UXO in Rakhine have been alarmingly increasing since 2018. In 2019, 53 explosions occurred, leaving 19 deaths and 39 injured. In 2020, 45 were killed and 89 maimed as a direct result of 61 explosions.
Children represent 35 per cent of casualties from landmine and UXO explosions countrywide and Rakhine State has the highest rate of child casualties with 47 per cent of the total. 17 children were killed in 2019 and 64 in 2020. Rakhine State has the highest number of landmines and UXO explosions in 2020 in Myanmar.
To respond to the alarming situation, we need to step up efforts for facilitating access for the provision of emergency Mine Risk Education activities; these should come first before demining activities so that children and other community members receive psychosocial support and mine risk education in schools and communities in all conflict-affected areas of Myanmar.
Meanwhile, it is of utmost importance to carry out humanitarian demining extensively in Rakhine State.
However, there are challenges for implementing humanitarian demining in Rakhine state. The situation calls for cooperation from all stakeholders to prevent deaths and injuries from landmines and UXO explosions, in addition to preventing other impacts on post-conflict communities.
Given that nearly 70 years of internal armed conflicts in Myanmar have halted regional development, the Union Government is prioritizing the national peace process and securing mine safety, raising awareness of the public, and rehabilitating victims of mines is crucial to sustainable development.
According to the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, 52 townships in nine regions and states are contaminated with landmines, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The safety of civilians caught up in conflict areas must be the primary consideration in all contexts.
We need a broader strategy which includes community awareness programmes, victim support, mine education and demining.
Now, action should be stepped up to save people residing in areas contaminated by landmines.

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