Mine Action

Last updated: 03 November 2015


Mined areas are located in areas of Myanmar adjacent to its borders with Bangladesh, China, and Thailand, but are a particular threat in northern and eastern parts of the country as a result of decades of post-independence struggles for autonomy by ethnic minorities. Fifty-six townships in Chin, Kachin, Kayin (Karen), Kayah (Karenni), Mon, Rakhine, and Shan states, as well as in Bago (Pegu) and Tanintharyi (Tenasserim) regions, suffer from some degree of mine contamination, primarily from antipersonnel mines. [1] Karen (Kayin) state, Kachin state and eastern Pegu (Bago) division are suspected to contain the heaviest mine contamination. The Monitor has also received reports of previously unknown suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) in townships on the Indian border in the Sagaing region. [2]

No estimate exists of the extent of contamination, but the Monitor and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) identified SHAs in the following divisions and townships:

  • Kayah state: all seven townships;
  • Kayin state: all seven townships;
  • Kachin state: Chipwi, Hpakant, Mansi, Mogaung, Momauk, Myitkyina, Tsawlaw, and Waingmaw;
  • Mon state: Bilin, Kyaikto, Mawlamyine, Thanbyuzayat, Thaton, and Ye;
  • Bago region: Kyaukkyi, Shwekyin, Tantabin, and Taungoo;
  • Rakhine state: Maungdaw;
  • Chin state: Paletwa;
  • Shan state: Hopong, Hsenwi, Hsihseng, Konkyan, Kyaukme, Langkho, Loilen, Mawkmai, Mongpan, Mongton, Monghpyak, Namhsan Tachileik, Namtu, Nanhkan, Yaksawk, and Ywangan;
  • Tanintharyi region: Bokpyin, Dawei, Tanintharyi, Thayetchaung, and Yebyu;
  • Sagaing region.

A survey of security concerns in 222 villages in southeastern Myanmar, conducted in 2014 by The Border Consortium with the assistance of 11 community-based organizations, found 53% affected by mines. The questionnaire-based survey covered villages in southern Shan, Mon, Kayin, and Kayah states, and the eastern Bago and Tanintharyi regions. [3]

In 2013, humanitarian mine action teams of the Committee for Internally Displaced Karen People (CIDKP) documented 67 dangerous areas in eastern Bago region and Kayin and Mon states. Some 74% of the dangerous areas were contaminated by antipersonnel mines, 18% by unexploded ordnance (UXO), and the balance by antivehicle mines. [4]

NPA conducted a three-day assessment of Kuyak Kyi in Bago Division in 2012 to support the resettlement of communities displaced by conflict. The assessment confirmed that areas considered for resettlement were mine affected but NPA did not receive authorization to conduct a more detailed survey of the area. [5]

Explosive remnants of war

Myanmar is also affected by explosive remnants of war (ERW), including mortars, grenades, artillery, and ordnance dating back to World War II, but the location or extent of contamination is not known. [6]

Program Management

In 2011, Myanmar agreed in principle to the creation of a Myanmar Mine Action Centre (MMAC) under the Myanmar Peace Center (MPC), which is led by the Minister of the Office of the President, U Aung Min, and is responsible for coordinating negotiation and implementing peace agreements with Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. It was agreed to hire five staff to work on mine action. However, as of 1 November 2015, no further action to establish it had been made.

Minister U Aung Min told the Monitor in May 2012 that mine clearance is a government priority, but said the peace negotiations and agreements between the government and ethnic minorities need to be firmly established before mine clearance can begin. [7] The MPC repeatedly stated that the mine action centre will not be functional prior to the signing of the National Ceasefire Agreement. [8] A partial signing occurred in October 2015. [9] The draft text of the National Ceasefire Agreement mentions a clearance obligation, but it is not time bound and does not mention coordination through the MMAC or standards to be applied [10] ( see the Ban Policy profile ).


In 2013, a technical working group comprised of government representatives from the MPC and humanitarian actors completed work on a draft national mine action strategy and on national mine action standards. As of September 2015, the strategy and standards had not received government approval and reportedly remained under consideration by the MPC. [11]


International demining organizations, including APOPO, DanChurchAid (DCA), Danish Demining Group (DDG), Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), HALO Trust, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and NPA, have had offices in Yangon since 2011, but as of 1 November 2015 none had received authorization to conduct humanitarian mine clearance. [12]

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Thailand Mine Action Centre conducted a training course for Myanmar officials in September 2014, covering use of mine detectors and land release. [13] 

Land Release

No mine clearance by government-accredited humanitarian demining organizations has occurred in Myanmar.

Survey in 2014

NPA, in agreement with the government and the New Mon State Party, conducted three non-technical surveys (NTS) covering a total of 70 villages in Mon and Kayin states in 2014, but did not find any mine contamination. NPA was informed there were mined areas close to some of the surveyed villages, but was not allowed access to them. The survey team recorded seven mine incidents that occurred at least 10 years earlier. [14]

The first two surveys covered eight villages in Ye township, Mon state (7 January–5 February); nine villages in Mudon and Thanbyuzayat townships, Mon state; and 10 villages in Kawkareit township, Kayin state (24 April–21 May). A third survey, was conducted in July 2014, in 43 villages in Ye township, Mon state. The surveys did not identify any mined areas.

NPA conducted further NTS at the request of the Karen National Union in four villages in April 2015. The surveys, one in Kyaukkyi township, Bago region, and three in Thandaunggi township, Kayin state, also did not identify any mine contamination but recorded 24 mine accidents in these areas in the previous two years. [15]

Clearance in 2015

Sporadic and unregulated mine removal has been reported in recent years by the Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s army), villagers, and ethnic minority organizations.

In 2014, the Karen Mine Action Center (KMAC) conducted a test, clearing mines and UXO from two areas designated by the Karen National Defense Organization using a KMAC manual clearance team and a locally produced machine, and reportedly operating to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) standards. [16]

The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) include a course on mine identification and emergency clearance procedures in annual training programs for new relief teams. [17] Mines encountered on their missions have either been removed by FBR personnel, who turn them over to anti-government militias, or are removed by militia members.

The UN Secretary General expressed concern over reports that in Mansi township the KIA allegedly used civilians and internally displaced persons to clear areas of landmines in 2014. [18]

Risk education 

As of April 2015, at least nine organizations conducted 11 risk education projects in 26 townships, primarily in Kachin, Kayah and Kayin states, and to a lesser extent in Shan and Mon states, and Bago and Tanintharyi regions. [19]

In 2015, UNICEF developed a two-year national risk education strategy based on findings from a Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) survey conducted by DCA in February 2013, with technical advice from UNICEF. The survey was conducted in 30 randomly selected villages in Kayah, Kayin, and Mon states, and the Bago and Thanintharyi regions. As of September 2015, the survey’s final report had not been released. According to preliminary findings provided in June 2014, the survey found that 53% of respondents knew of areas near their village or ward with explosive devices and 47% stated that these devices are a problem in everyday life. [20]

A national technical working group on mine risk education was established in 2012 under the Ministry of Social Welfare. It is coordinated by UNICEF. Approximately 30 ministries, UN agencies, and NGOs attend the quarterly meetings.

The UN Myanmar Information Management Unit lists 13 organizations that are implementing programs in Mine Action, of which nine are providing risk education. [21] Four of those organizations provided responses to a questionnaire from the Monitor. Catholic Relief Services conducted risk education in Kayin state. DCA conducted risk education in Karen in 1,000 schools through a mobile teacher training program in 2014, reaching more than 72,000 people. DDG/Danish Refugee Council undertook risk education activities in six townships each in Kachin and Kayah states. MAG conducted risk education in 48 communities in five townships in Kayah State. All operators combined risk education with victim assistance and other services (victim assistance in MAG’s program is implemented through a partner organization). [22]

There is no risk education quality control or accreditation process for risk education. [23] Risk education operators have not been given permission to conduct non-technical surveys to determine explosives hazards in order to inform their risk education messages. As there are no clearance activities in Myanmar, requests for clearance made by local communities to risk education actors cannot be met. [24]

Article 5 Compliance

Myanmar is not a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

[1] 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 region names are as per used by the current government, unless quoting a source which uses common/previous names.

[2] Research conducted by Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor (the 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 September 2015, and data from other informants from January 2008 through September 2015.

[3] The Border Consortium is the main provider of food, shelter, and other forms of support to approximately 120,000 refugees from Burma/Myanmar living in nine camps in western Thailand, and provides support to internally displaced persons (IDPs) and others affected by conflict in South East Burma/Myanmar. The Border Consortium, “Protection and Security Concerns in Southeast Burma/Myanmar,” November 2014.

[4] Meeting with Programme Manager, DanChurchAid (DCA), Chiang Mai, 9 October 2014. DCA provides technical assistance and support to CIDKP humanitarian mine action teams that conduct survey and mine risk education in affected communities.

[5] Interview with Andreas Indregard, NPA, Bangkok, 12 April 2012; and telephone interview with Aksel Steen-Nilsen, Mine Action Programme Manager, NPA, 21 June 2012.

[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] Monitor interview with President’s Minister Aung Min, Naypidaw, May 2013.

[8] See, for example, Dinmore, G., “Three years, zero landmines cleared,” Myanmar Times, 14 July 2014; and“Landmine clearing to begin after NCA signed,” Eleven Myanmar, 19 September 2015.

[9] A. Slowdowski, “Myanmar signs ceasefire with eight armed groups,” Reuters, 15 October 2015.

[10] Mine Free Myanmar, “The Mine Ban and the National ceasefire process,” 11 August 2015.

[11] Email from international mine action agency staff member, Yangon, 27 October 2014.

[12] Email from Aksel Steen-Nilsen, NPA, Yangon, 23 September 2014.

[13] “Ministry of Foreign Affairs trains Thai and Myanmar officials on landmines,” National News Bureau of Thailand , 8 September 2014..

[14] Email from Aksel Steen-Nilsen, NPA, Yangon, 23 September 2014.

[15] Interview with Aksel Steen-Nilsen, NPA, Yangon, 3 April 2015; and email, 25 May 2015.

[17] “New Teams Graduate, Go on Missions,” Free Burma Rangers, Karen state, Myanmar, 15 December 2014; and email from David Eubank, Founder, Free Burma Rangers, 26 October 2015.

[18] UNGA,“Children and armed conflict Report of the Secretary-General,” A/69/926–S/2015/409, 5 June 2015, para. 140.

[19] “MIMU 3W - April 2015, Countrywide Overview,” UN Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU), April 2015.

[20] “Knowledge Attitude & Practice Survey: Impact of landmines and other Explosive Remnants of War In South East Myanmar, First Findings, February 2013 – June 2014,” provided by DCA Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) team, 4 July 2014.

[21] “MIMU 3W - April 2015, Countrywide Overview,” UN Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU), April 2015.

[22] Responses to a Monitor 2015 Risk Education Questionnaire by Roger Fasth, Operations Manager, DRC/DDG, 14 August 2015; by Nay Myo Linn, Project Officer, CRS, 16 August 2015; by Kelly Tsanova, Project Manager, MAG, 22 August 2015; and by Bjarne Ussing, Country Director, DCA, 12 October 2015.

[23] Accreditation standards exist within the Myanmar Mine Action Standards, but have not been approved by the authorities.

[24] Some risk education providers noted when responding to the Monitor Risk Education Questionnaire that they received clearance requests from some communities while delivering risk education.