The 164 signatory countries to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) agreed Friday to accelerate the work to achieve the goal of a “mine-free” world in 2025, Norway’s foreign ministry said.

“Countries have now agreed that it is necessary to speed up mine clearance over the next five years,” Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Soreide said in a statement following a meeting in Oslo.

According to Landmine Monitor, an annual report by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, 6,897 people were killed or injured by mines and other explosive remnants of war in 2018 and the report noted that it was the fourth year in a row with “exceptionally high numbers of recorded casualties.”

Of those, 3,789 were victims of so-called improvised mines, the highest recorded number to date.

Under the Oslo Action Plan, adopted Friday, states undertake to “identify mined areas and put in place national plans for mine clearance.”

They also commit to measuring their progress in the final stretch before 2025, the goal set by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or Ottawa Treaty in 1997, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Zimbabwean citizens work on a mined beach in Stanley, Falkland Islands (Malvinas) on October 11, 2019. - A surprising community…
FILE – Zimbabwean citizens work on a mined beach in Stanley, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Oct. 11, 2019.

The meeting in Oslo this week was the last in a series of five-year meetings to implement the treaty drafted in 1997, which helped to put an end to virtually all mine use by governments, including those that did not sign it.

Armed groups are, however, increasingly using improvised anti-personnel mines.

According to Landmine Monitor, non-state groups used this type of weapon last year in at least six countries: Afghanistan, India, Burma, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen.

Since the treaty’s adoption, nearly 58 million mines have been removed by clearing minefields and destroying stockpiles, according to the Norwegian ministry.

Efforts to rid the world of these weapons were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, which was given to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and U.S. citizen Jody Williams.

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