Somebody should make a game about: landmines

Content warning: This piece contains a discussion of war casualties, including children.

Nobody knows exactly how many landmines there are in the ground right now, but the answer is in the tens of millions. Each year those mines kill or injure thousands of people – 6,897 in 2018, or around 18 people a day, of whom 71 percent were civilians. At least a million have died since record-keeping began, with hundreds of thousands left mutilated, and many more deaths undocumented. According to the Landmine Monitor 2019 report, 59 states remain contaminated by mines, with concentrations spanning over a hundred square kilometres in wartorn countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of these mines are ancient, relics of conflicts that ought to be fading memories. Others are fresh in the soil.

Governments have made impressive strides towards getting rid of mines, which are widely perceived to be an uncommonly evil weapon. 164 states have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, of which 31 have now cleared their territory of mines completely. But many countries retain huge stockpiles, including China, Russia and the USA, which this January announced that it would reverse Obama-era prohibitions on mine usage. The Trump administration’s justification is that it will only deploy mines that self-deactivate or destruct after a given period, but these technologies are unreliable, and in any case, mines blowing themselves up according to an invisible schedule isn’t brilliant news for those nearby.

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