It is 20 years since the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines was adopted, but the legacy of these devastating weapons lives on. Landmines need just an instant to create a catastrophic injury that lasts a lifetime. And for decades, landmines were used in huge numbers, all over the world. In the years before the Convention, Erik Tollefsen, the ICRC’s head of Weapons Contamination, remembers mine clearance as an almost hopeless task.
The humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to deteriorate. After two decades of almost uninterrupted conflict, with violent clashes seriously affecting several provinces, some 7 million people are now are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of them, 4 million are displaced after fleeing for their lives, often leaving everything behind.
The Lake Chad crisis forced more than two million people to flee their homes at the height of the conflict in 2015. Over recent months, many have returned home, only to find their houses and their businesses in ruins.
Residents of the village of Beit Skaria traditionally grow fresh fruit and vegetables; grapes, olives, or figs. But their path to making a living can be a stony one.
Today the village is almost completely surrounded, trapped, in effect, by settlements.
It makes ordinary life, the simple act of getting from home, to work, and back again, extraordinarily difficult.
In recent months, Gaza has witnessed an accelerated and worrying degradation of the humanitarian situation. Restrictions imposed on the movement of people and goods, aggravated by internal Palestinian differences, has fenced off Gaza from the rest of the world and is suffocating its economy.
For more than three years, eastern Ukraine has suffered conflict. Amid the world’s many other humanitarian crises, in Syria, or in Yemen for example, it can be easy to forget Ukraine. But the UN estimates that 10,000 people have lost their lives here since 2014. Thousands of families are grieving, and many, like Yuliia and Olha, have been condemned to wait for years to find out exactly what happened to their loved ones.
The numbers associated with South Sudan’s violence reveal the level of brutality being carried out against civilians. Of the country’s population of 12 million, one in three residents has been displaced, while one in two is severely hungry and in need of food assistance.