Afghanistan needs $550m to clean 611 square kilometer area infested with landmines: Wais Barmak
By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The State Minister for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs Office (SMDM), Wais Barmak, on Sunday said that landmines and Improvised Explosives Devices (IEDs) are still killing and wounding 112 innocent people on monthly basis across the country.
“Afghanistan and the Afghan masses had suffered seriously from landmines and explosive devices during past years, where still people are losing their lives from IEDs and landmine blasts in some parts of the country,” Barmak said.
Commemorating the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, he said that out of 112 killing and wounding cases, 38 percent of the incidents are caused by landmines and unexploded explosive devices. Remaining 74 percent is caused by the IED blasts.
He lamented that 611 square km land was still infested with landmines in Afghanistan. “Since 1989 till date, 77.7 percent of landmine zones, that comprised of 2,710 villages were cleared in 117 districts throughout the country,” he noted.
He added that 19 million landmines and unexploded explosive devices were discovered and destroyed in the country. “Our target is to clean all 611 square kilometer land from landmines till 2023, in order to announce Afghanistan a state free of land mines,” he added. He said that Afghanistan needs $550 million to clean the area from mines.
He called on the international communities and donors to assist and help Afghanistan in landmines clearance drive. “If the government does not receive support from donors in landmines clearance program, the de-mining organizations will fail to reach the target and cannot announce Afghanistan a state free of landmines in 2023,” he said.
“1000 de-mining staffers from different organizations, were killed and wounded during landmines clearance campaign in the past two decades,” he claimed.
“Since 2010, 250 incidents occurred in which 87 de-miners were killed and 128 others were injured,” he said, adding that around 565 de-miners were kidnapped by different armed groups, but were released through tribal elders’ mediation.
Pointing to a five years de-mining strategy, Barmak said that the strategy would focus on development project areas, cooperation in landmine clearance and awareness programs.
Survey in clearance and destroying mines, including assistance for mine victims and advocacy programs are also a part of the strategy, he said.
The United Nations Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, on the occasion said that the UN would remain committed and continue supporting landmines clearance programs in Afghanistan.