Much of Yemen was cleared of most landmines over the last 14 years, and recently 5 of 21 provinces were declared free of landmines. During the civil wars of the 1990s the landscape was littered with over 500,000 landmines and unexploded shells, grenades, and other dangerous items. In 1999, a clearing effort was started and since then over 292,000 mines and other explosive items have been found and disposed of. Sine 1999, mines and other explosive items killed over 3,500 people. But there’s still a lot of that stuff out there, and in the last year over 700 people have been killed or wounded by mines (mostly) and other explosive items.
Rebel Shia tribesmen in the north have planted new mines to keep security forces and rival tribesmen at bay, while in the south al Qaeda has used locally made mines to protect some of its rural hideouts. All the violence in the last few years has disrupted clearing operations, in addition to putting new mines and other nasty stuff into the ground. It may be another decade before all this dangerous stuff is found and cleared.
Landmines were outlawed by an international treaty in 1999, but this mainly applied to nations that didn't have landmines or didn't have any reason to use them. Rebels and gangsters have not signed the international agreement and find the mines a cheap way to control civilian populations and slow down the movements of the security forces. It takes more time, money, and effort to remove these mines than to place them.
The most effective way to get the mine clearing done is by training local volunteers for part-time mine clearing teams. The government must provide training, pay (which should be good by local standards), and health and life insurance. When a new bunch of mines are found (usually by an animal coming across them), the team gets to work.
Despite efforts like this, it has not been a promising time for those seeking to enforce the ban on the use of landmines. In the last few years Israel, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Iran, and Myanmar (Burma) planted new mines. In addition, there are three countries still manufacturing landmines (India, Myanmar, and Pakistan). Arms dealers will still provide large quantities of Russian and Chinese landmines, many of them Cold War surplus. China, Russia, and other communist nations were major producers of landmines during the Cold War. The mines were produced not just for use against potential enemies but to aid in keeping the borders closed and preventing citizens from leaving those unpleasant dictatorships.
There has been a growing list of outlaw organizations that are ignoring the 1999 Ottawa Convention to ban landmines. The Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are manufacturing landmines in primitive workshops and using them against Pakistani and Afghan, against foreign soldiers, as well as Afghan civilians who refuse to support the Islamic terrorist group. This has also been happening in Yemen.
Despite the 1999 treaty, landmines are still causing over 5,000 casualties a year worldwide. About 20 percent of the victims are killed and 90 percent of them are males. This is largely because men are more likely to be out in the bush or working farmlands that still contain mines. A third of the casualties are security personnel (police and soldiers). This is because in many countries rebels and criminals are still using landmines, either factory made ones from countries that did not sign the Ottawa Convention or locally made models.
Landmines are simple to make and workshops are easily set up to do it. There's no shortage of mines out there, despite the fact that in the first few years after the 1999 Ottawa Convention was signed over 25 million landmines, in the arsenals of over fifty nations, were destroyed. But most of these nations were not users and rarely sold them either. For those who want landmines, they find a way to obtain and use them. The Taliban are the latest group to demonstrate this. Leftist rebels in Colombia have been making their own mines for years now, as have Islamic and communist rebels in the Philippines. There are believed to be over 100 million mines still in the ground and at least as many in military warehouses for future use.
The 1999 Ottawa Convention was supposed to have reduced land mine casualties among civilians. It hasn't worked because the owners of the largest landmine stockpiles, Russia and China, refused to sign. Chinese land mines are still available on the international arms black market. China is believed to have the largest stockpile, mostly of anti-personnel mines. The old ones are often sold before they become worthless. But even these mines, which go for $5-10 each, are too expensive for many of the criminal organizations that buy them. Land mines, competitive with the factory built ones from China, can be built for less than three dollars each. You can find all the technical data you need on the Internet.
Anti-vehicle mines are increasingly popular and are particularly common in poor countries where there are still a lot of dirt roads traveled by buses and trucks, carrying dozens of passengers each. While these mines are usually intended for military vehicles, mines can't tell the difference. As a result, in this year or next, Colombia or Afghanistan will have the largest number of annual mine casualties in the world.