173 civilians killed by landmines in Syria this year: monitor

BEIRUT: At least 173 civilians, including 41 children, have been killed in Syria by landmines and explosive remnants of war since the start of the year, a monitor said Thursday.

Syria‘s warring parties have all planted landmines in urban as well as rural areas since the conflict started in 2011.

Across the country, more than 10 million people live in areas contaminated by explosive hazards, the United Nations says.

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“Since early 2019, 173 civilians, including 41 children, have been killed by landmines and explosive remnants of war,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

Of the victims, at least 40 have been killed while digging for truffles, the Britain-based monitor said. 

“Every day civilians are losing their lives or being maimed for life due to landmines and unexploded ordnances,” said the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“It is estimated that 2 out of 3 survivors of an explosive hazard incident in Syria will sustain a life-long impairment,” it added on Twitter.   

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) says landmine contamination “hampers” attempts to clear rubble and cultivate agricultural land.

It also poses a threat to children and obstructs the return of displaced Syrians to their hometowns and villages, UNMAS told AFP in August.

In July 2018, UNMAS signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to establish a permanent representation in Damascus.

The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since erupting in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.

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