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As casualties from landmines rise for the first time in years, campaigners say another Diana figure is needed to revive international will to tackle a terrible legacy of war. The landmine belongs to another era — or so many of us like to believe. We think of it as an evil all but consigned to history by the entreaties of Diana, Princess of Wales, and a Nobel prize-winning campaign for a ban. But after years of steady decline in the number of casualties, the numbers harmed by landmines is on the rise again.
In at least 4, people were maimed or killed by landmines, the first increase in the annual toll for seven years. Of these, at least 1, died of their injuries. This year is expected to be even worse. The events of the Arab Spring have contributed to this, with Syria, Libya and Yemen all laying new mines. Last year the confirmed use of mines by state forces reached its highest level since In Libya alone, there were casualties from mines or explosive remnants of war ERW , up from just one in This year Syrian forces have been placing landmines near the borders with Lebanon and Turkey, and civilian casualties have already been reported to Human Rights Watch.
There is evidence that fresh mines have also been laid in Yemen. Even in places such as Angola, where landmines have been in the ground for decades — and whose minefields looked destined to be cleared after Diana visited in — casualties has risen, with 89 people harmed or killed by mines last year, double the number in Two years ago the British government abandoned the funding of de-mining projects in Angola, Colombia and Somalia.
Guy Willoughby, the chief executive of Halo, the charity supported by Princess Diana, said: "There is donor fatigue. Princess Diana would be dismayed to think that almost 16 years after her visit I would be standing up and saying Angola needs another 10 to 15 years' clearance, and possibly longer if there's any further donor fatigue. The clearance time is dependent on the number of de-miners you can hire.
When the group first met in , 20, people were being hurt or killed by landmines every year. Now the number is less than a quarter of that, but experts are concerned that governments have got complacent.