How many landmines are in the ground worldwide?
Last Updated: Jan 06, 2017
No one knows for sure, for several reasons:
- not all mined areas have been identified yet
- often, armed forces and others kept no records of the mines they laid, in some cases they were even dropped out of airplanes
- when records are available, they are often wrong or incomplete
- Natural disasters, floods, earthquakes, sandstorms can shift mines and unexploded ordnance or cover markers that designated where mines were
- reports that new antipersonnel mines are being laid continue to appear, most recently in Syria – in other regions non-state actors have been reported to have also used landmines.
Therefore, estimates of the number of mines in the ground are, at best, guesses. Instead of focusing on the quantity, it is more meaningful to talk about the number of communities that are affected by mines and about the type of impact the mines have on those communities.
An area is “mine-affected” even if it has only one landmine on it or if people believe it may be mined. Farmers will not work land where they think or fear there is a risk of landmines. Roads may not be used if people know or believe they are mined. Schools, hospitals, and water supplies may also be inaccessible because of the threat of mines. Surveying, demining and clearing areas reassure people that the area can be safely used. International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) have been developed to ensure that teams around the globe work with the same methodology.
To access key statistics on landmines check out the statistics page of the Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War research guide.
Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.