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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2675

Landmines shatter peace for villagers in eastern Burma

Bangkok, 09 April, (Asiantribune.com):

To mark International Mine Awareness Day, Karen Human Rights Group published new data collected by community members in eastern Burma that describes the ongoing devastation caused by landmines. Each year the United Nations International Mine Awareness Day draws attention to the global impact of landmines and notes progress towards their eradication.

Landmines continue to disrupt the potential for civilians to return to their way of life even after the conflict has subsided. Old landmines pose serious restrictions on villagers' ability to travel safely or resume farming and reconstruction of previously abandoned homes. Fatalities and injuries to people and livestock occur frequently, especially when there is no prior knowledge of the mined areas, making displaced communities particularly vulnerable.

"It is not possible that the threatening of the villagers, the forced labour of the villagers and the landmines problems will disappear easily even after the ceasefire." - Situation update written by a community member, Bu Tho Township, Papun District (Received in November 2012).

One year ago, in May 2012, KHRG published uncensored testimonies from a group of villagers in Pa'an District who pleaded urgently for mine action support as the community had been particularly hard hit by landmines. See KHRG, Uncertain Ground. Regrettably, new reports of fatalities continue to be received from this area and across Karen state, demonstrating the unresolved scope and complexity of the problem.

There is an urgent need for humanitarian mine action that accords primacy to local protection priorities and builds on the strategies villagers themselves already employ in response to the threat of landmines. In the cases where armed groups or civilians continue to view landmines as a potential source of protection, there is an equally urgent need for viable alternatives that go beyond reliance on the use of mines.

The Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) was founded in 1992 and documents the situation of villagers and townspeople in rural Burma through their direct testimonies, supported by photographic and other evidence. KHRG operates independently and is not affiliated with any political or other organization. Examples of our work can be seen online at www.khrg.org.

- Asian Tribune -

Landmines shatter peace for villagers in eastern Burma
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