As you read in our previous landmines blog post, the Obama Administration is reviewing current US landmine policy right now, and will soon decide whether or not the US will join the Mine Ban Treaty.?Why should the US join? Check out these compelling facts and see why this is a critical health and human rights issue:Injury and Death:
- The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) estimates that 15,000-20,000 people are maimed or killed by landmines yearly, with millions more affected by the agricultural, economic and psychological impact of the weapon.
- UNICEF estimates that 30-40% of mine victims are children under 15 years old.
- Landmines are responsible for the injury and death of thousands of US and allied troops in all US-fought conflicts since World War II, including dozens in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 1991 Gulf War, landmines caused 34% of US casualties.
- At the beginning of the 20th century, nearly 80% of landmine victims were military personnel. Today, 90% of landmine victims are civilians.
The Economic and Social Cost:
- The ICBL estimates that there are millions of landmines and other unexploded ordnance in the ground in over 80 countries.
- Landmines cost as little as $3 to produce and up to $1,000 per mine to clear.
- Most kinds of landmines last forever. Mines laid during WWII are still killing and maiming civilians.
- It costs $100 to $3,000 to provide an artificial limb to a landmine survivor. Adults require a prosthesis replacement every two to three years and a child must have a new one every six months to a year.
- Landmines cause environmental damage in the forms of soil degradation, deforestation, and the pollution of water resources with heavy metals. Subsistence farmers are unable to work the land in mined areas.
- Landmines affect all aspects of human life, including the ability of refugees to return home. A report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published in 1997 stated that 13.2 million refugees, 4.9 million internally displaced people and 3.3 million returnees were at risk from landmines.
The US and Landmines:
- The United States is one of only 39 countries that have not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty; in the Western Hemisphere, only the U.S and Cuba are non-signatories.
- The US has the third largest mine arsenal in the world—a stockpile of 11 million Anti-Personnel Landmines (APLs)—despite not using landmines since 1991 or producing them since 1997. Enormous amounts of taxpayer money are used to maintain these weapons.
- The United States is one of only 13 countries that refuse to halt production of APLs.
- The Bush Administration’s landmine policy, announced in February 2004, represented a major rollback of US progress on the landmine issue. The policy increased funding for mines, permitted indefinite US use of self-destructing mines, and refused to phase out long-lived mines until 2010. The Obama Administration has yet to revise the Bush policy.
These indiscriminate weapons maim and kill, and destroy families and communities.?President Obama is currently reviewing US landmine policy. We need your voice to tell the President to ban mines now! The US has not used landmines since the 1991 Gulf War. It is time for us to promise never to use them again.Take action today: email Obama and tell him to join the Mine Ban Treaty!