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In one deadly day this week, landmines in Myanmar’s Shan state killed three people in two separate incidents. The deaths highlight the dangers that civilians still face living in the shadow of the longest running civil war in history. The accidents, which occurred within hours of each other on December sixth, killed one man and two women, both of them mothers to four children each, according to the Palaung Women’s Organization, a local non-governmental organization that reported the deaths.
Accidents like this are not rare in this region. Just weeks before on November 16th also in the Shan state, four women were collecting herbs on a hillside near their village when one of them stepped on a mine. The resulting blast claimed her lower leg and caused serious abdominal injuries. The three others in the group were also injured, including a four-year-old girl.
“Sadly such incidents will become more common throughout many regions in Myanmar where the use of landmines was common practice during the many years of conflict,” said Lou McGrath, Senior Advisor on Mine Action Projects for Clear Path International (CPI) and co-Founder of Mines Advisory Group. McGrath is currently in Myanmar establishing victim assistance programs with CPI.
“My experience in so many other countries tells me that, unfortunately the accident rate rises as the peace process proceeds and people return to their homes.” He continued, “many will be unaware of the dangers they face from areas contaminated by landmines. It is not only crucial that every effort is made to begin clearance as soon as possible, but that Mine Risk Education projects and assistance programs for survivors of landmine accidents are able to begin now. As peace becomes a reality in Myanmar, its people, its government and the international community need to protect those at risk from becoming the victims of tomorrow.”
Clear Path International, founded in 2000, with funding from the U.S. Department of State, works with civilian victims of conflict in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos and every region in Afghanistan. You can learn more about Clear Path at www.cpi.org.