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UK increases support to clear landmines in Afghanistan

AT-KABUL: The UK Department of International Development said that it would commit specific support to ensure that Afghanistan can be declared a mine free country by 2023.

The support will include funding mine clearance and programs to help families make productive use of cleared land, as well as providing mine risk education to affected communities to help prevent death and injuries from unexploded mines.

The British International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “This new support from the UK will help to save lives and prevent an immediate humanitarian crisis. In the long-term it will help build a stable, secure and prosperous Afghanistan.”

She said the UK’s commitment comes at a critical moment – Afghanistan has seen real progress recently but the international community must show it is willing to stay the course. We cannot allow Afghanistan’s development to be undone and the country to roll back into conflict. That is why the UK is reaffirming our ongoing commitment and that is why we are pushing other donors to do the same.

In a media statement issued here, The HALO Trust, the global demining charity which has been conducting humanitarian mine clearance in Afghanistan since 1988, has welcomed an announcement by the British government that commits to spending £750m on development and emergency aid in Afghanistan over the next three years.

CEO of The HALO Trust, James Cowan, said: “The British government’s announcement on funding for Afghanistan shows both strategic vision and humanity. It is very much welcomed by The HALO Trust, which will continue to support the people of Afghanistan on their journey to a better life. Without British support HALO would struggle to clear Afghanistan of the mines and munitions which stand between it and a peaceful future.”

The HALO Trust is one of a number of humanitarian and commercial demining organizations in Afghanistan. HALO currently employs 2,400 staff drawn from many provinces to deliver both manual and mechanical demining, battle area clearance, explosive remnants of war disposal, survey and mine risk education.

Over the last 28 years, HALO’s staff have destroyed over 796,834 mines and cleared 114,657 hectares of land in the country. Clearance removes dangerous mines so that the land can be used productively again by communities for agricultural and grazing, as well as the creation of infrastructure.

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