Myanmar

Mu Traw District Incident Report: Two villagers were seriously injured as a result of landmine explosions in Dwe Lo Township, Mu Traw District, June 2021

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This Incident Report describes events that occurred in Dwe Lo Township, Mu Traw (Hpapun) District in June 2021. On June 20th 2021 and June 22nd 2021, two villagers living in A---village, Hpapun Town, Dwe Lo Township, Mu Traw District were independently injured after stepping on landmines outside of their village. They both sustained serious injuries. The male victim was treated at Hpa-an Public Hospital and the female victim at Mawlamyine Public Hospital.

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Part 3 – Complete Description of the Incident

Describe the Incident(s) in complete detail. For each incident, be sure to include 1) when the incident happened, 2) where it happened, 3) what happened, 4) how it happened, 5) who was involved, and 6) why it happened. Also describe any villager response(s) to the incident, the aftermath and the current living situation of the victims. Please use the space prepared below, and create an attachment if needed.

** First Incident**

On June 20th 2021, at 7:15 am, a 32-year-old villager from A---village, Aur'Naung Pat Kan Ywar village tract, Hpapun Town, Dwe Lo Township, Mu Traw District, stepped on a landmine while he was returning home from his hill fields. [Along with his wife, he went to go check on his crops and harvest bamboo shoots in the forest]. They had to walk 30 minutes to go from the village to the forest. They have two daughters [but the daughters had stayed at home]. Y---’s wife was not with him [at the same location in the forest] at the time of the incident, but heard the explosion and came running. She then returned to the village to get help.

After the incident, he was sent to the Hpapun Military Hospital. He arrived at Hpapun Military Hospital at 8:00 am. When he arrived at Hpapun Military Hospital, the generator that runs [provides power for] the hospital was cut off [not functioning], so the doctors were not able to operate. As a result, the doctors at Hpapun Military Hospital transferred him to Hpa-an Public Hospital. However, he waited two hours before he was sent to Hpa-an Public Hospital for further treatment.

The local authorities had previously informed villagers about the contamination of landmines and told villagers not to go to prohibited areas. Y---’s sister explained that they cannot avoid going to the forest, because he [her brother] is a day labourer and has to take care of his family [foraging in the forests serves as a primary means of income, particularly in difficult economic times]. He stepped on a landmine on one of the paths in the forest. But there are no signs showing landmine danger in the forest. They [the victim and his family] are not sure who planted the landmines in the area, however [they believe that] the landmines were planted sometime during 2021. The landmine he stepped on was manmade.

The sister of the victim of the landmine incident stated that her brother never attended proper Mine Risk Awareness training. The villagers were only provided pamphlets with Mine Risk Awareness information, which is why he was not aware of how dangerous it was to be walking in the nearby forest. Furthermore, even though villagers had been made aware of landmine contamination in the surrounding areas, the landmines were planted randomly, making it difficult to know which areas to avoid.

Due to the injuries he sustained from the landmine explosion, doctors at Hpa-an Hospital had to amputate his right leg. His left leg was also broken [by the explosion], and the landmine shrapnel injured him in his scrotum. [At the time of the initial interview] he was still recovering in the hospital since the accident on June 20th [he has now been discharged]. He was in Hpa-an Public Hospital for a total of 16 days. He was discharged from the hospital on July 7th 2021.

For his medical [hospital] expenses, they [he and his family] had to pay just over 100,000 kyats [USD 60.75][3]. They received 500,000 kyats [USD 303.77] from DanChurchAid (DCA) with the support of KHRG to help cover these medical expenses. They also received help from the Red Cross. Naw T---, his wife, is very worried about his current health condition. She is worried that the amputation will affect the family’s livelihood as he has now lost one of his legs. As there is a lack of job opportunities in the areas around Hpapun Town, and the COVID-19 situation is now getting worse, the mother of the victim is supporting the victim and his family.

According to Y---’s sister, local villagers have been injured by other landmine explosions in the area. A landmine incident happened back in 2015. Initially, after the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA),[4] the Tatmadaw began clearing some of the landmines, but then stopped. The victim’s sister is concerned about the persistence of landmine contamination. She said: “My brother was injured from a landmine explosion. I don’t want other people to face this kind of condition. I want them to be careful. I do not want them to go to prohibited areas. I feel sad. I never thought this would happen to him.” She continued: “If the two of them [her brother and his wife] had been killed in the landmine explosion, I cannot even imagine the future of their two children. That is why I want the armed groups to consider the future of everyone’s children before they start fighting each other.”

Second Incident

On June 22nd 2021, at 1:30 pm, a villager named Daw Daung, 55 years old, also from Aur’Naut Pat Kan Ywar, Aur’Naut Pat Kan Ywar village tract, Hpapun Town, Dwe Lo Township, Mu Traw District, stepped on a landmine while she was harvesting mushrooms outside of her village. Right after the incident, villagers immediately sent her to Hpapun Hospital, where she stayed for two days. Later, Hpapun Hospital transferred her to Mawlamyine Public Hospital [upon her request because she has relatives in the area] on June 24th 2021 for further treatment. At Mawlamyine Public Hospital, the doctors had to amputate her right leg at the knee.

The medical expenses, including food and travel, cost her over 100,000 kyats. She has received financial support from her siblings and relatives. She also received 500,000 kyats from DCA, with a contribution from KHRG, to help cover her medical expenses. The victim has four children and is a widow. On June 30th 2021, the victim was discharged from Mawlamyine Public Hospital, however, the doctor told her that she will need to return to the hospital for a medical checkup once a month.

According to G---’s sister, prior to this incident, villagers were informed by the local Ethnic Armed Organisations not to venture out of the village perimeter due to landmine contamination. In the areas surrounding their village, there are no signs demarcating where landmine contamination exists. As a result, G--- went out from the village to harvest mushrooms thinking there were no landmines in the vicinity. The villagers have no idea which armed groups planted the landmines. As for the victim, she never attended the Mine Risk Awareness training provided to her village.

There had been landmine explosions in surrounding areas before [however, the interviewee could not specify the incident dates]. Villagers living in Aur’Naung Pat Kan Ywar do not want landmines planted in the areas where they harvest food for their livelihood. But landmine contamination in and near villagers’ plantation areas in Southeast Myanmar continues to threaten the livelihood and lives of villagers.