ERW incidents

ERW accidents generally result in the death and/or injury of one or more people. The characteristic of ERW means that it is more likely to kill the person initiating the explosion, unlike anti-personnel mines, many of which are designed to incapacitate only. Common injuries include amputation, loss of sight, abdominal injuries, burns and lacerations from fragmentation. Most victims are from low-income households and communities with incidents occurring in rural and urban areas. Children, particularly boys, and men are most at risk. Supporting previous evidence from the field, the research found that there were more deaths and multiple casualties from ERW than landmines.

Examples of deliberate interaction as a result of economic necessity include explosive being extracted for trap guns used for hunting. The monetary value of scrap metal is increasing as communications improve with the south; the number of people deliberately collecting munitions for this purpose will multiply over coming months. UXO has also been used to pursue vendetta.  Adults also deliberately handle ERW in an effort to clear it, removing the danger for others.

(Landmine Action– Explosive Remnants of War, ERW in Sri Lanka)

Reasons for incidents

Civilians have a very different relationship with ERW compared to landmines. Mines are treated with respect and known or marked minefields avoided. Due to the more random nature of ERW, there is a greater risk of unintentional interaction with it. Its presence is so commonplace in some areas of the north and east that people have a degree of complacency towards these explosive munitions. This is not surprising in a country where people have had to adapt to conflict in their daily lives for nearly two decades. Most incidents occur when people interacted with ERW, either out of curiosity or deliberately due to economic need or social conscience. Otherwise they happened when clearing land, gathering firewood or water, tending animals or because they were close to the explosion.

(Landmine Action– Explosive Remnants of War, ERW in Sri Lanka)

Landmine incidents

Statistics show there are more than 110 million mines distributed over the planet, that somebody is killed or maimed by a device every 22 minutes, and that it would take around 1,100 years to clear all of them.

(Danish Demining Group homepage)