Landmine clearance project in Karen State facing delays
Major Naing Maung Zaw, the tactical operations commander from the Karen State border guard who is taking part in the area’s landmine clearing project, told Mizzima on 28 November that there are parts of the State that have yet to be purged of landmines because the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) did not attend meetings that would have authorized their removal.
“We are continuing to clear landmines from certain areas; however, because the DKBA did not show up at the meetings of the committee which is organizing the clearance project, we cannot finish our task,” Major Zaw reported. “Unfortunately, the project will not be finished by the end of the year.”
The DKBA responded to these allegations by insisting that they had sent representatives to these meetings and that the delayed removal of the landmines is simply due to the difficulty in extracting them.
“We are finding it problematic to unearth some mines,” DKBA Captain Kyaw Thet said, “because some parts of the landmines have disintegrated andonly the cores have been found. There are some that we simply cannot clear out.”
The DKBA has noted that they have safely detonated some of these landmines in controlled explosions and zoned off other areas in order to prevent civilians from accidentally triggering loose mines.
The landmine clearing project began on 5 June and was instigated by ethnic armed groups. The project is currently suspended following conflicts with the DKBA and the ongoing ceasefire discussions.
Karen armed groups used landmines as territorial security during wartime. They assumed that they could disinter said mines after the conflicts subsided by using location maps; however, due to misplaced maps and shifting terrain, this extraction process has proved challenging.