Land mine situation in Chechnya

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Chechnya is the most land mine-affected region worldwide.[1]

Since 1994 there have been widespread use of mines, by both sides. Russia is a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons but not the 1996 protocol on mines, booby traps, and other devices. In addition to using hand-emplaced mines, Russian forces have also deployed anti-personnel mines from airplanes, helicopters and rockets, resulting in large tracts of mined land that is unmarked and unfenced. Most of this scatterable mining took place in 1999 and 2000. In addition, only half of the cluster munitions dropped in Chechnya actually detonated.

Urban areas (including civil buildings in the capital Grozny), villages, roads, fields, woods, mountain paths, bridges and rivers were mined. Eighty percent of minefields were unmarked. The most heavily mined areas are those in which rebels continue to put up resistance, namely the southern regions, as well as the borders of Chechnya.

No humanitarian mine clearance has taken place since the HALO Trust was evicted in December 1999, after the Russian government accused the organization of espionage and arrested some of their staff. In June 2002, Olara Otunnu, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, estimated that there were 500,000 land mines placed in the region.

In September 2003 the International Campaign to Ban Landmines reported that almost 6,000 people, 938 of which were children, died or were injured by land mines in Chechnya in 2002, more than anywhere else in the world. It is an especially disturbing figure in a region whose population was less than one million people.

On April 4, 2006, UNICEF and European Commission said in a joint statement released in Moscow that over 3,030 people have been maimed or killed by land mines in the course of the second Chechen War (April 4 marked the first International Day for Mine Awareness). UNICEF has recorded 2,340 civilian land mine and unexploded ordnance casualties occurring in Chechnya between 1999 and the end of 2003.

In March 2007 Chechen government official said that "the overall number of people who suffered from mine explosions in Chechnya was 3,067 including 573 women (100 lethal cases), 2,494 men (604 killed) and 754 children including 131 killed in mine blasts." According to Gazeta.ru, more people suffer from mines in Chechnya than in Afghanistan.[citation needed]

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