The Impact of Mines/ERW on Children, November 2015

Child Casualties

In 2014, there were 1,038 child casualties in 33 states and one other area from landmines, victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), cluster munition remnants, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW)—henceforth mines/ERW. Of this total, 319 children were killed and 716 were injured.

Children accounted for more than one third (39%, 1,038 of 2,670) of all civilian casualties for whom the age was known in 2014. This represented a decrease from the 46% of civilian casualties recorded for 2013. Over the past 10 years (2005–2014), children have on average accounted for 42% of civilian casualties.

From 2013 to 2014, significant increases in the number of child casualties were reported in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), Somalia, Cambodia, and Mali. Disturbingly, in Afghanistan, 561 child casualties were recorded in 2014, making up more than half (54%) of all child casualties recorded globally. This total also represented almost half of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and constituted a 15% increase in child casualties, with 74 more children becoming casualties of mines/ERW in 2014 than in 2013.

In some of the states with the greatest numbers of casualties, the percentage of child casualties in 2014 was much higher than the annual global average of 39%. Children constituted 77% of all civilian casualties in DR Congo, 62% in Lao PDR, 68% in Turkey, and 55% in South Sudan.

In DR Congo, the number of child casualties continued to increase, with 36 child casualties in 2014, compared to 19 in 2013 and 10 in 2012.9 In Niger and Uganda, although numbers of child casualties were low, with two recorded in each country, children were the only casualties recorded in 2014. In Syria—where access to information decreased and was limited —a similar number of child casualties was reported in 2014 (50) as in 2013 (46), with the actual number believed to be far higher.

Explosive devices causing child casualties in 2014 ERW continued to kill and injure more children than all other types of explosive devices combined. More than half (61%) of child casualties were caused by ERW, an increase of four percentage points compared to 2013. A further 8% of child casualties were caused by antipersonnel mines and 20% by victim-activated IEDs that acted as antipersonnel mines. Compared to adults, children were disproportionately affected by ERW; 60% of ERW casualties were children despite ERW being the cause of just 29% of all casualties (civilian, military, deminer, and those where such status is not known). Children in general are more likely to deliberately handle explosive items than adults, often unknowingly, out of curiosity, or by mistaking them for toys.

Gender and child casualties

With girls making up 18% of child casualties in 2014, boys continued to constitute the vast majority of child casualties. In many countries contaminated with mines/ERW, boys are more involved than girls in outdoor activities (such as herding livestock, gathering wood and food, or collecting scrap metal), during which they are likely to come into contact with mines and ERW.