(Image via Gapyear)
Casualties from landmines are at the highest point of the decade, due in part to a plunge in funding towards land mine removal. 6,461 people were known to have been wounded or killed by landmines in 2015, a 75% increase from the previous year and the highest recorded casualty rate since 2006, when 6,573 people were either killed or injured by the weapons. More than a third of the reported casualties last year were children.
The purpose of a landmine is detonation when a person, most often civilians, unknowingly walk over or nearby them. They can remain active even after years of lying dormant in the ground. The landmine treaty of 1999 banned the use of mines, but despite a pledge by treaty members to complete mine clearance by 2025, mines are still being produced in India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and South Korea. While the United States is not an official member of the treaty, they are the global leader of humanitarian funding for demining, with $154 million provided last year to forty countries.
However, with the plunge in funding, landmine removal has slowed, and will continue to slow. As more mines remain, more lives indiscriminately taken by these weapons of war. United States civilians may not be threatened by these weapons, but American use of landmines in the Vietnam war have killed and maimed thousands of civilians across Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia that still pose a deadly threat to civilians in those countries today. There are many who will argue against foreign aid, saying it does not work, but landmine removal is and should be considered a separate category, as without it thousands of innocent lives are destroyed by indiscriminate acts of violence, some with intentions that are decades old.