04 October 2013

(Geneva - 4 October): Antipersonnel landmines, an indiscriminate weapon banned by more than three-quarters of the world, should not be used by any actor in the Syrian conflict, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate, urged today.The ICBL welcomes Syria’s accession to the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention on 14 September 2013 and with it the obligation to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons.This is a step in the right direction but Syria should not stop there. The government needs to cease its use of all weapons banned by international humanitarian law, including antipersonnel mines, cluster munitions, and air-dropped incendiary weapons used in concentrations of civilians.

Like chemical weapons, landmines have also caused death and suffering in the conflict. ICBL calls on Syria to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty without delay, to prevent further suffering and enhance the safety of its people. Antipersonnel mines are indiscriminate weapons, far more likely to maim or kill civilians than combatants.

Use of antipersonnel mines by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances is condemned and has been banned internationally since 1997. Today the ban is nearly universally accepted with 161 States Parties to the Treaty. Of those states remaining outside the Treaty, Syria is one of only two countries – Myanmar being the other - still actively laying antipersonnel landmines.The Syrian people know first-hand the harm and devastation landmines cause. Syria has been affected by landmines since they were used in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and ongoing armed conflict.

Most recently Syria’s government used antipersonnel mines in late 2011 and early 2012 along its borders with Lebanon and Turkey, apparently to prevent refugees from fleeing the country, and causing dozens of civilian casualties.

Several countries, the ICBL, the Treaty President and the European Union, firmly condemned this shocking and unacceptable use, and called on Syria to immediately halt the use and to remove all emplaced mines to prevent further suffering. Syria’s renouncing chemical weapons is a positive sign, however, the continued use of other banned weapons including landmines, is unacceptable. Syria needs to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, destroy its stockpiles of antipersonnel mines, clear all contaminated land and provide assistance to all affected persons in the country. This is the only solution to ensure landmines will no longer maim and kill innocent civilians in Syria.

ICBL Statement in Arabic Landmine Monitor Syria Country Profile 

ICBL press releases regarding the use of mines in Syria  http://www.icbl.org/index.php//Library/News/Syrian-rebel-landmine-urge http://www.icbl.org/index.php//Library/News/Syria_landmine_use