Mine Action

Last updated: 21 November 2017

Contaminated by: mines, primarily antipersonnel mines (heavy, but extent unknown), and explosive remnants of war (ERW).


The extent of mine and ERW contamination in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is not known. New contamination was reported in 2017 on the border between northern Rakhine state and Bangladesh. In 2016, non-technical survey operations were approved for the first time. However, operators did not get authorization to conduct marking or clearance.

Recommendation for action

  • Myanmar should activate a mine action center to provide an official focal point for mine action, take the lead in gathering data on contamination and victims, and coordinate with stakeholders in developing a response.


Myanmar is heavily mine-affected as a result of conflicts started after independence in 1948 between the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s army) and numerous non-state armed groups (NSAGs) affiliated with ethnic minorities. Mined areas are located in areas of Myanmar adjacent to borders with Bangladesh, China, and Thailand, but are a particular threat in northern and eastern parts of the country.

At least 71 townships (out of a total of 325) in 10 states and regions are believed to suffer from some degree of mine contamination, primarily from antipersonnel mines.[1] In the past few years, contamination has increased in the north. Shan state and Kachin state are considered heavily contaminated. Previously, Karen (Kayin) state and Pegu (Bago) division were among those with the heaviest mine contamination and the highest number of recorded victims. Townships on the Indian border of Chin state and in the Sagaing region also reportedly have suspected hazardous areas (SHAs).[2]

Additional mine use occurred in 2017 when the Tatmadaw reportedly planted antipersonnel mines on the border between northern Rakhine state and Bangladesh and during a military campaign in August and September, causing casualties among fleeing Rohingya civilians.[3] Other accounts of use by Myanmar military forces and NSAGs in Myanmar were also reported in 2016 and 2017. (See Myanmar’s mine ban profile for further details.)

No estimate exists of the extent of contamination but SHAs have been reported in the following states and townships:

  • Kayah state: all seven townships;
  • Kayin state: all seven townships;
  • Kachin state: Bhamo, Chipwi, Hpakant, Mansi, Mogaung, Mohnyin, Momauk, Muse, Myitkyina, Shwegu, Sinbo, Sumprabum, Tanai, Tsawlaw, and Waingmaw;
  • Mon state: Bilin, Kyaikto, Mawlamyine, Thanbyuzayat, Thaton, and Ye;
  • Bago region: Kyaukkyi, Shwekyin, Tantabin, and Taungoo;
  • Rakhine state: Maungdaw;
  • Shan state: Hopong, Hsenwi, Hsihseng, Hsipaw, Konkyan, Kutkai, Kyaukme, Langkho, Lashio, Laukkaing, Loilen, Manton, Mawkmai, Mongshu, Mongpan, Mongton, Monghpyak, Namhsan Tachileik, Namtu, Nanhkan, Yaksawk, and Ywangan;
  • Tanintharyi region: Bokpyin, Dawei, Myiek, Tanintharyi, Thayetchaung, and Yebyu;
  • Chin state: Paletwas; and
  • Sagaing region: Indaw.

A situation analysis for humanitarian response in Myanmar released in September 2016 noted that, “Landmine contamination is a significant barrier to refugee return. It also continues to pose barriers to livelihoods, economic development, land ownership, and access to health and education services, all of which have gendered dimensions and implications.”[4]

In June 2017, Landmine Monitor and the UN produced an infographic on the impact of landmine use in Myanmar.[5]

Explosive remnants of war

Myanmar is also affected by ERW, including mortars, grenades, artillery, and ordnance dating back to World War II, but the location or extent of contamination is not known.[6] New ERW contamination has been reported related to armed conflict in late 2015 and early 2016 in Kachin state.[7]

Program Management

The government had not, as of September 2017, formulated a clear direction for mine action or established a center to coordinate it.[8] In May 2017, the Union Joint Monitoring Committee (JMU-C) Secretary, Colonel Wunna Aung, stated that the Tatmadaw would take the lead on landmine clearance and that international technological and material support would be accepted. He noted that clearance would begin in Kayin state as a joint activity with the Karen National Union.[9] In August 2017, Myanmar’s Commander-in-Chief of Defence Services, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, held talks with New Zealand’s Ambassador regarding assistance between the two countries militaries and mine clearance operations.[10]

Myanmar’s previous administration had agreed to set up a Myanmar Mine Action Center (MMAC) under the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC) in 2013, but it was never fully staffed and the government said concluding a National Ceasefire Agreement with non-state actors was a precondition for proceeding to survey and clearance.[11]

The new administration dissolved the MPC at the end of March 2016 and replaced it with the National Reconciliation and Peace Center (NRPC), which reports to the state counsellor, who said negotiations over the National Ceasefire Agreement would be her administration’s priority. At its first meeting, several participants emphasized the threat of mines and the need for mine clearance.[12] UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon also discussed the issue of mine clearance when he met with the head of the military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, in August 2016.[13] A national youth conference held in the capital Naypyitaw in May 2016 called on the army and ethnic armed groups to remove landmines.[14] Several civil society groups also called for mine clearance during the year (see Mine Ban Policy profile).

The Department of Social Work leads the Myanmar’s Mine Risks Working Group (MRWG), co-chaired with UNICEF, which comprises 10 ministries and 41 international and national organizations. The group meets quarterly and focuses on risk education and victim assistance. In the process, it has overseen the first steps to systematic survey of mine contamination.

International demining organizations, including DanChurchAid (DCA), Danish Demining Group (DDG), The HALO Trust, Handicap International, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), have offices in Yangon and some provincial centers, and through community liaison or risk education have been able to build up knowledge of the location of hazardous areas in some states.

Land Release

Operators have not received authorization to conduct marking or clearance from either the government or ethnic minority authorities but the Department of Social Work approved full non-technical survey in specified government-controlled areas for the first time in 2016.

MAG, after two years of risk education and community safety mapping in Kayah state, received authorization from the Department of Social Work for a pilot survey in government-controlled areas, which it conducted between July and October 2016 focusing on 16 villages of Loikaw township. Teams surveyed 30 of 47 hazardous areas covering 44,828m2 identifying contamination by antipersonnel mines and ERW. In December, the Department authorized MAG to conduct non-technical survey in 74 villages across six townships. By the end of June 2017, MAG had surveyed 78 hazardous areas covering 77,782m2. MAG found mines particularly in the vicinity of electricity pylons, even those outside conflict areas, underscoring the importance of investigating areas around other key infrastructure.[15]

In 2017, MAG had five community liaison teams working full-time on non-technical survey in all seven of Kayah state’s townships. It had four survey teams in Shan state working out of Taunggyi and conducting full non-technical survey in three townships and community mapping in two others. It also had two teams undertaking initial community surveys in Kayin state as well as working with a local partner doing similar baseline surveys in non-government controlled areas, and three teams in the southern Tanintharyi region.[16]

HALO Trust had conducted risk education under a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Department of Social Work authorizing it to work in all seven townships of Kayin state and some townships of Bago, Mon, Kachin, and Shan states. In 2016, it opened offices in Hpa-An in Kayin state, and in Lashio in northern Shan state. The MoU was amended in July 2017, expanding the approved operating area to include 18 townships of Shan state and authorizing it to conduct non-technical survey. HALO Trust was working in three townships of Kayin state (Hlaingbwe, Hpa-An, and Thandaungyi) and deployed three survey teams to map polygons. In Shan state, HALO was conducting risk education.[17]

DDG, which has six teams conducting risk education in Kachin, northern Shan, and Kayah states, also received Department of Social Work authorization to undertake non-technical survey in Kayah state’s Demoso township where it deployed two teams with three surveyors each starting in May 2017.[18]

Mine/ERW risk education

As of September 2017, at least nine organizations implemented 13 risk education projects, primarily in Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, and Shan states, and eastern Bago region, Mon state, and Tanintharyi region.

Mine/ERW Risk Education actors[19]


National actor

International actor

Eastern Bago region

The Committee of Internally Displaced Karen People and the Karen Teachers Working Group

Dan Church Aid (DCA)

Kachin state


Danish Refugee Committee (DRC)

Kayah state

The Karenni Social Welfare and Development Center and the Local Development Network;

The Department of Education, Planning and Training

DCA-Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and MAG

Mon state

Committee of Internally Displaced Karen People and Karen Teachers Working Group


Northern Shan state

Kachin Youth Organization and Shan State Youth Network Committee


Southern Shan state



Tanintharyi region

The Karen Teachers Working Group;

The Department of Agriculture and Department of Education, Planning and Training




In addition, the National Society, trained by the ICRC, is also conducting risk education.[20]



The Monitor acknowledges the contributions of the Mine Action Review (, which has conducted the mine action research in 2017, including on survey and clearance, and shared all its resulting landmine and cluster munition reports with the Monitor. The Monitor is responsible for the findings presented online and in its print publications.

[1] This reporting period saw the largest increase, compared to previous years, in the number of townships believed to have suspected hazardous areas. In 2009, the Monitor identified 23 townships from available data with suspected contamination in eight states and regions. Increased reports of contamination are a result of increased access to information and an increase in armed conflict in the northern areas. Myanmar is divided into states and regions. States are the “home area” of ethnic groups. Other areas, which are not identified with a specific ethnic group, are administrative regions. The former military junta changed the name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989 and also changed the names of some states. Many ethnic groups within the country still prefer to use the name Burma. Internal state and division names are given in their common form or with the name adopted by the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in parentheses.

[2] Research by Landmine Monitor. Data sources included casualty information, sightings of mine warnings, and reports by NGOs and other organizations of use, as well as interviews with field staff and armed forces personnel. The survey included casualty data from January 2007 through December 2016 and data from other informants from January 2008 through October 2017.

[3] Amnesty International, “Myanmar Army landmines along border with Bangladesh pose deadly threat to fleeing Rohingya,” 9 September 2017; and Human Rights Watch, “Burma: Landmines Deadly for Fleeing Rohingya,” 23 September 2017.

[4]Situation Analysis of Southeastern Myanmar,” Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU), Peace Support Fund, September 2016. MIMU is a service to the UN Country Team and Humanitarian Country Team, under the management of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

[5]Townships with Known Landmine Contamination (2016) and Casualties in Myanmar (as of Dec 2015),” MIMU, 15 June 2017. Infographic provides a 10-year overview of data from the Landmine Monitor (2007–2016).

[6] See, for example, N. Thwin, “World War II ordnance kills three,” Democratic Voice of Burma, 20 March 2012; “WWII bomb kills 7 in Arakan,” Irrawaddy, 1 September 2011; and M. Thar Lay, “Mandalay workers uncover WWII bomb,” Myanmar Times, Vol. 23, No. 455, 26 January–1 February 2009.

[7] See, for example, unexploded aerial bomb allegedly from armed conflict in Kachin state in Waingmaw township in October 2016. Free Burma Rangers, “UPDATE REPORT: Gidon Post Bombarded by Burma Airforce,” 7 October 2016.

[8] Interview with Aksel Steen-Nilsen, Country Director, NPA and Greg Crowther, Regional Director, South and South East Asia, MAG, in Phnom Penh, 1 May 2017; and email from Melissa Andersson, Programme Manager, NPA, Yangon, 27 September 2017.

[9] Ye Khaung Nyunt, “Second day of 10th Union Joint Monitoring Committee meeting in Yangon,” Global New Light of Myanmar, 5 May 2017.

[10] MNA, “Senior General meets New Zealand Ambassador,” Global New Light of Myanmar, 27 August 2017.

[11] Roger Fasth and Pascal Simon, “Mine Action in Myanmar,” Journal of Mine Action, Issue 19.2, July 2015.

[12] See, for example: At the Union Peace Conference 21st Century Panglong, Daw Wint Wah Tun of the National League for Democracy said of her Shardaw township, Kayah state, “local people do not feel secure as landmine fields pose a threat to their way of life.” “Union Peace Conference—21st Century Panglong continues,” Global New Light of Myanmar, 2 September 2016.

[13]C-in-C Senior-General Min Aung Hlaing holds talks with UN Chief, diplomat,” Global New Light of Myanmar, 1 September 2016.

[14] “Youth Empowerment: Myanmar’s young people want an active role in the running of their country,” Mizzima Weekly, 9 June 2016, p. 22.

[15] Interview with Greg Crowther, MAG, in Phnom Penh, 1 May 2017; “Preliminary results of MAG’s Non-Technical Survey in Kayah State,” received by email from Greg Crowther, MAG, 2 May 2017; and Greg Crowther, Josephine Dresner, and Michael Aaron, “Mine Action in Burma, Building Trust and Incremental Gains,” Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction, Issue 21.2, July 2017.

[16] Email from Bekim Shala, Country Director, MAG, 27 September 2017.

[17] Email from Samuel Fricker, Programme Manager, HALO Trust, 25 September 2017.

[18] Email from Pascal Simon, Programme Manager, DDG, 28 September 2017; and DRC/DDG, “Deployment and activities in Myanmar,” July 2017.

[20] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” p. 328.