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The Killid Group
Landmines still take 40 victims every monthWritten by Ziaullhaq and Zaland
Saturday, 16 April 2011 11:57
About 40 people are falling victim to landmines on monthly basis as demining agencies warn insecurity is complicating their efforts to rid the country of landmines by 2013. The total number of landmines and ERWs casualties in Afghanistan since 1980s is staggering.
The orthopedic center of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Kabul is always thronged with people seeking prosthetics and orthotics. Thousands of people who have lost their limbs to landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERWs) have received artificial limbs, care and support in the center.
"I've come here to receive an artificial leg so I could be able to work and feed my children," said Rahimullah, 42, who lost a leg in a landmine blast two years ago.
Another disabled man said he was there to renew his prosthetics. "My artificial limbs have enabled me to walk, work and help my family," said Baz Mohammad, 40.
The total number of landmines and ERWs casualties in Afghanistan since 1980s is staggering: over 20,506 victims of which 3,862 have lost their lives, according to demining organizations.
Most of the landmines were planted during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980s and demining operations have been ongoing ceaselessly ever since. Demining progress has been impressive as tens of thousands of landmines and ERWs have been defused and destroyed and large swathes of the country have been cleared from their risks.
"About 14,000 people are currently working for humanitarian demining agencies in the country," said Haider Reza, director of the UN-affiliated Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan.
According to Reza, demining agencies plan to clear all landmines in Afghanistan by 2013. The country is also a signatory to the Ottawa Convention on landmines and the government says it has already destroyed all its landmine stockpiles and has stopped importing and using them.
However, the goal of a landmine-free Afghanistan is facing security, resources and technical challenges.
About 17 de-miners were killed, 35 were injured and 73 were abducted in 2010 and access for demining purposes was denied in some insecure areas, according to demining agencies. Funding is another issue for demining activities as donors are increasingly inclined to channel more funds to development and state-building projects.
"We don't have maps to show where exactly landmines are laid," said Reza adding that in the absence of maps demining was like groping in the dark.
Whilst time is moving fast so are concerns about the ability of demining agencies to rid Afghanistan from landmines in the next two years.