Five persons, including a local Catholic priest, were seriously injured on Monday when two landmines exploded while they were foraging for firewood in a forest in Muse district, northern Shan State.
One of the victims told DVB that two members of the group had stepped on two separate landmines.
“We left our village that morning and found an area of forest,” he said. “A few minutes later, I heard a loud blast and was thrown to the ground. Two of my friends had lost consciousness. The priest, Zau Kau, was critically injured and had to have one of his legs amputated here at the hospital [in Mansi].”
A local village administrator, Yain Yaw, was injured by mine debris, which tore open his thigh and the right side of his abdomen.
Another victim, named as Dai Zei, remains unconscious and has sustained damage to his left eye from the debris.
All five have been living temporarily in the village of Man Jab as internally displaced persons, or IDPs, after they were compelled to abandon their homes due to armed clashes in that area.
As the men have little money to pay hospital fees, donations have been raised among the local Kachin community.
The area around Muse, which lies on the Chinese border, has been the scene of fierce hostilities in recent years between Burmese government forces and the four armed ethnic groups of the Northern Alliance – Kachin Independence Army, the Kokang army, Arakan Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army.
As of 1 December 2016, 162 countries, over 80 percent of the world’s governments, have ratified, or acceded to, the international Mine Ban Treaty. One-hundred and nineteen countries have signed, ratified, or acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Burma has not joined either convention.