Civilian casualty figures from landmines climb dramatically in 2016

Find A Better Way CEO Lou McGrath was in Vienna, Austria in December to attend the Sixteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. As one of the early leaders in the worldwide demining movement, and a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Lou has a unique perspective on the current state of advances worldwide.

Although progress continues to be made on many fronts by many different organisations, the headline figure from the event was not encouraging. Lou explains:

I have been shocked to hear that the casualty rate from landmines and explosive remnants has soared to 8,605 casualties recorded by the Landmine Monitor in 2016, and worse still, a record number of children (40% of the total) are reported as being killed or injured. While these figures are alarming they do not actually show the the full picture, it is still difficult for those compiling and recording casualty figures to get the full picture of civilian casualties in the present conflicts of Syria, Iraq and Yemen, so the actual figures are likely to be significantly higher still.

It is twenty eight years since the first humanitarian demining teams were deployed, it is twenty five years since the ICBL began its campaign and it is twenty years since the landmine ban treaty was signed in Ottawa, Canada. Its sad therefore to think that casualties are continuing to rise.

The roughly thousand children who survived landmine blasts but lost one or more limbs in 2016 will be added to the growing number of children and young people in need of prosthetic limbs. As children need new limbs fitted regularly as they grow and therefore require regular physical and psychological therapy as well, their needs are especially complex. But the sad reality is, these children are the lucky ones.

With the numbers of landmine blast survivors surging, addressing their complex physical and psychological needs is an increasing priority for the international community. Find A Better Way are proud to be supporting cutting edge research to provide new therapies for treating blast trauma, and to be caring for post-conflict communities through the new Sir Bobby Charlton Centres (the first of which opened in Amman, Jordan in August 2016).