Landmines are a great tool during a war. They are easy to emplace, hard to defeat, and limit an enemy’s ability to maneuver.
But nations have signed treaties banning their use for a good reason. They present a near-permanent hazard for civilians who have to live and work near former conflict zones. Here are 5 countries where minefields are a deadly fact of life:
After decades of war, Afghanistan faces some of the largest concentrations of mines and IEDs in the world. It also is home to the highest casualty rates from these weapons with 383 people killed and 665 injured in 2013. It’s estimated that there are up to 10 million landmines in the country.
Iraq was suspected to be one of the most heavily mined countries in the world in 2014, and the situation has only gotten worse since. Demining efforts are limited because of the continuing conflicts and ISIS uses mines to slow armies that are pushing them back.
3. Bosnia and Herzegovina
At the end of 2013, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a reported 1,216 square kilometers contaminated with mines, mostly from the 1992-1995 breakup of Yugoslavia. Removal efforts there have been hampered by a 2014 flood that shifted many mines to areas that had already been cleared.
Cambodia contains what may still be the densest concentration of mines in the world, the K5 mine belt on the border with Thailand. The nation saw 22 people killed and 89 injured by mines and unexploded ordnance in 2013 despite improvements in their demining operations.
Turkish forces laid a number of mines during conflicts from the 1970s to 1990s. Today, most of Turkey’s estimated one million mines are on the border with Syria and the government has suspended demining operations because of ISIS militants operating on the border.