Syria

ICRC Calls for Durable Solution to Weapons Contamination in Syria

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Damascus – Ten years of crisis in Syria has left an estimated 11.5 million people living with the risk of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). With swathes of the country turned into minefields, it would be generations before Syria is fully cleared of weapon contamination.

In cities and rural areas across Syria, numerous accidents are reported daily, resulting in deaths and injuries among civilians going about their lives. The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has so far collected over 12,000 records of victims of explosive ordnance accidents across the country, of whom 35% were killed and 65% injured. Children make up over 25% of these victims, with most occurring while simply playing. Approximately 50% of the survivors suffered limb amputation, and two out of three survivors will sustain life-long impairment, which presents an additional burden to an already weakened health system in the country. Farmers, cattle grazers, builders, scrap metal collectors, construction workers, humanitarian workers, children on their way to school, displaced people, and those returning to their homes are among those most at risk. This further affects income generation in a country that is hit hard by an economic crisis and destruction.

Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is doing its part to reduce the risks to the civilian population living in the vicinity of weapon contaminated areas through education on risk awareness and safe behavior. We have so far reached over 300,000 people in 10 out of 14 governorates and will expand to two more in 2021. The ICRC also continues to assist casualties through its physical rehabilitation programs. A comprehensive approach that includes humanitarian demining is required, however, to truly impact the situation.

On the occasion of International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the ICRC calls on all stakeholders within Syria and the international community to act now to support efforts aimed at reducing and eliminating the deadly risks of landmines and ERW. Long after this crisis is over, the legacy of these weapons will continue to impede the resumption of normal life.

The ICRC encourages all parties involved in mine action to provide additional assistance for the humanitarian demining as it is the ultimate solution to the weapon contamination problem. Support by states is needed to establish and implement a comprehensive humanitarian demining program in Syria. This is the only durable solution for the weapon contamination problem.