The Landmine Monitor 2013 report has announced that there are still 1 million land mines in Turkey, although over 26,000 of them were removed last year.
The portion of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines' (ICBL) report on Turkey was debated on Thursday in Istanbul. Evaluating the report, the coordinator of the Initiative for a Mine-Free Turkey, Muteber Ogreten said trade of land mines on the black market still exists, evidenced by land mines that have been discovered in Syria and Yemen.
According to the figures Ogreten provided, as of June 21, 2011, approximately 3 million land mines were destroyed in Turkey. “In 2012, over 26,000 land mines were removed, but the number of still-buried land mines is 1 million,” she says before going on to say that "since 1998, only 1 percent of the land mines have been destroyed." According to her, since 2004, about TL 55.8 million has been spent on the removal of land mines. The cost of removing a single mine is TL 4,678. “Because of land mines, one person is either killed or wounded every three days,” she further says.
There are also 3,520 plots of land that are riddled with land mines across the country.
Indicating that Turkey asked for an additional 80 years to remove its remaining land mines, Öğreten said this is only an estimate for how long such a process could take. Urging the government to be committed to the international agreement to remove land mines, Öğreten expressed concerns that in the years to come many lives will be lost to land mines.
Land mines leave many handicapped
The chairman of the Handicapped Association of Turkey, Sukru Boyraz, also said that in addition to lost lives, each year thousands of people become handicapped because of land mines and are oftentimes left to care for themselves. Boyraz urged the state to end this problem.
He said the association has been struggling to prevent further incidents that can end in people becoming handicapped. In almost every household in the border provinces, from Hatay to Ardahan, there are people either who have been killed or hurt by land mines, according to Boyraz.
The secretary-general of the İstanbul Medical Association, Ali Cerkezoglu, said that Turkey's borders should not be defended by land mines, which are considered lethal weapons.
The head of the Istanbul branch of the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), Cüneyt Sarıyasar, said that people across the border from Turkey face the same problems all over their county, not just in one region. He believes this is a significant issue that affects the lives of many.
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