Afghan, Colombian kids worst hit by landmines

SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) The number of children dying because of mines and other explosive remnants has risen with Afghanistan and Colombia worst hit, says a top anti-landmine group.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC) said in its annual Landmine Monitor report on Wednesday that the number of mine casualties has declined since 1999 but the number of the child victims has increased.

According to the report, almost half of the 2,403 civilian landmine casualties in 2013 are children, which shows a seven-percent rise compared to the previous year.

Afghanistan was the worst hit with 487 children among the victims, nearly half of all the child casualties, and was followed by Colombia with 57 victims.

At least 75 percent of civilians killed or injured by landmines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, and South Sudan were also kids.

“Children in general are more likely to deliberately handle explosive devices than adults, often unknowingly, out of curiosity, or by mistaking them for toys,” ICBL-CMC said in its latest fact sheet.

Most of the child casualties worldwide are boys apparently as they engage in outdoor activities more than girls, ICBL-CMC said.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country.

In Colombia, rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have reportedly planted most of the landmines and explosive devices in rural areas as part of a 50-year conflict with the government.

“All Colombians need to push forward with the task of promoting a special agreement on mines as part of the peace talks and before any eventual peace deal is signed. This is the only way the number of mine casualties will be reduced,” said Alvaro Jimenez, head of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines, which is part of ICBL-CMC’s global network.

The peace talks are set to kick off in the Cuban capital Havana on December 10.

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