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Archive for the ‘Demining’ Category

Kidnapped Afghan deminers should be immediately released

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Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)

August 22, 2008

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today condemned the recent kidnapping of a group of Afghan deminers and called for the immediate release of the six men still being held captive.

Thirteen men working for the Afghan demining organization MDC (an ICBL member) – including 11 deminers and two drivers – were abducted by unidentified forces on 19 August in Gardez province. Seven of them have been since released, but the fate of the remaining six remains unknown.

“Deminers put their lives at risk every day to ensure the safety of their communities. Attacking them is a cowardly act and an assault on the entire civilian population,” said Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director of the ICBL, calling on all armed actors to halt attacks on demining personnel and to safeguard their life-saving work. The ICBL also called for the Afghan government to take urgent measures to ensure the security of deminers and to identify and bring to justice those responsible.

“Mine clearance is crucial to allow reconstruction, economic recovery, and build lasting peace. Deminers and their work should be valued and protected,” said Firoz Ali Alizada, ICBL Treaty Implementation Officer, stressing that attacks on deminers could seriously endanger the progress of vital clearance operations.

Unfortunately, attacks on deminers are not infrequent in Afghanistan. In March 2008, in two separate incidents, seven mine clearance personnel were killed and another seven injured. In 2007, at least six deminers were killed and a further 17 were kidnapped before being released.

One of the most severely mine-affected countries, Afghanistan has the world’s largest demining programme, employing some 8,000 national staff.

For more information on the landmine situation in Afghanistan, which joined the Mine Ban Treaty in 2003, please see the Landmine Monitor Report at http://www.icbl.org/lm/2007/afghanistan

Written by afghandevnews

August 24, 2008 at 4:51 pm

Posted in Demining, Security

Afghanistan: UN aims to have Bamiyan city mine-free by October

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New York, 30 July (AKI) – The United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan (UNMACA) has announced plans to clear a total of 1,800,000 square metres of land in the historic city of Bamiyan that is contaminated with mines and unexploded ordinance (UXOs) by October.

Bamiyan contains a number of Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the Islamic period. It is also where the Taliban destroyed two standing Buddha statues in March 2001.

The mine-clearance project will exclude four sites which have been declared as cultural heritage sites by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and need to be cleared with the cooperation of archaeologists.

“After receiving authorization from the Ministry of Information and Culture we will start clearing the four cultural heritage sites,” said Abdul Qader Qayoumi, the head of UNMACA in Bamiyan.

Nearly 500 de-mining personnel, most of them from Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC), an Afghan non-governmental organization (NGO), are working to clear Bamiyan from landmines and UXOs.

Since the beginning of April, 104 anti-personnel mines and 169 UXOs have been found and destroyed.

Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, and more than four million Afghans are living in mine-contaminated areas.

As a party to the global anti-landmine treaty, known as the Ottawa Convention, Afghanistan has committed itself to clear all of its landmines by 2013. With the help of the UN, some 65,361,363 square metres of land has already been cleared across the strife-torn nation.

Qayoumi said the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) – which comprises UNMACA and other partners – will start de-mining work in three other districts in Bamiyan province, namely Shibar, Saighan and Kahmard.

Also in Bamiyan, the efforts of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to promote crop diversification and new seed varieties was on display during an event on 26 July attended by some 250 farmers and the Governor of the province.

The programme aimed to showcase practical results in the field, including experimental testing of 200 potential wheat lines and 14 potato lines, which are in the advanced stages of screening for the release of new varieties in the near future, according to FAO.

The participants were also able to visit a newly-constructed modern potato storage facility and a tissue culture/virus testing laboratory nearing completion at the Mullah Ghulam agricultural research farm, which hosted the event.

FAO has been working with Afghanistan to support agricultural and environmental rehabilitation and assist the country to achieve food security.

Written by afghandevnews

July 30, 2008 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Demining

Afghanistan: ICBL concerned by Taliban mine use allegations

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Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)

    June 19, 2008

    Major news media reports have repeated the allegation that the Taliban have recently laid mines in Arghandab District of Kandahar Province. The news reports do not specify if these are antipersonnel mines.

    “The reports of antipersonnel mine use by the Taliban received over the past 18 months are very worrying as – if confirmed – they would signal a shift from the Taliban’s publicly declared policy of endorsing the mine ban,” said Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan of the ICBL’s Landmine Monitor. “The ICBL calls upon the Taliban to publicly reconfirm and honour the commitment it made in 1998 to non-use of antipersonnel mines,” he continued.

    The former Taliban-controlled Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) was prohibited by its unrecognized status from signing the Mine Ban Treaty, but indicated its willingness to do so. In 1998 the IEA made a public commitment to a total ban on the production, trade, stockpiling, and use of landmines, and further stated that “the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan would never make use of any type of landmines” and that “those who use landmines in personal, political or any other differences in Afghanistan would be punished in accordance with the Islamic law.”

    However, since 2007, as the level of Taliban military activity increased, new antipersonnel mines use has been alleged.

    In June 2007, three Canadian soldiers were killed in Panjwaii district, KandaharProvince when two antivehicle mines were detonated by an attached antipersonnel mine. The mines were newly laid on a road frequented by the troops between two checkpoints 600 meters apart. In May 2007 five children were killed by a mine the police claimed was freshly laid by the Taliban.

    In July and August 2007, Helmand Provincial officials and residents alleged that Taliban insurgents had laid antipersonnel mines in several districts. Qari Yusuf, an alleged spokesman for the Taliban, reportedly confirmed the planting of new mines against the Afghan army and international forces. Also in July 2007 , a former Hezb-i-Islami commander fighting alongside the Taliban, and 38 of his soldiers, surrendered and turned over unspecified mines and other arms to the Disarmament of Irresponsible Armed Groups (DIAG) programme in KapisaProvince. Coalition forces claim to have apprehended militants possessing an antipersonnel mine in Khost in May 2007.

    The majority of explosive attacks in Afghanistan do not involve victim-activated antipersonnel mines, but rather improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or antivehicle mines which are remotely-detonated in roadside attacks. These attacks are frequently attributed to ‘landmines’ by journalists.

Written by afghandevnews

June 19, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Posted in Demining

Kabul to clear mines on TAPI gasline route in 2 yrs

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Afghan govt to set up 1,000 industrial units along route after clearing landmines

By Zafar Bhutta
Daily Times (Pakistan)

June 7, 2008

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan has informed Pakistan that it will clear all landmines from the proposed route of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline within two years, sources within the Pakistan Petroleum Ministry told Daily Times on Friday.

They said that the Afghan government had assured all stakeholders that the process to rid the area of landmines was already underway and would soon be completed. The Afghan government has also stressed that the proposed route of the pipeline would be freed of the influence of the Taliban, they added. The pipeline route, as defined by an international consultant, would pass through the west and southwest of Afghanistan, including the five provinces of Herat, Farah, Nimroz, Helmand and Kandhar, before reaching Pakistan.

Another 1,000: According to the sources, the Afghan government has said that it has already set up 300 industrial units near the route of the TAPI gas pipeline and would set up a further 1,000 industrial units by clearing landmines.

Turkmenistan is expected to present a gas reserves certification to all stakeholders within the next month. It claims gas reserves of 80 billion cubic metres (BCM) per year. The Government of Turkmenistan has conveyed to all stakeholders that they would be provided with at least 30 BCM annually from the project for the lifetime of the project.

According to official sources, the gas pricing formula for the TAPI gas pipeline may follow the formula adopted for the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline deal, which has been linked to Japan Crude Cocktail.

The sources claimed that talks on TAPI had slowed down due to a hike in oil prices in the international market. They said that the stakeholders were currently observing the international market to gauge the link between oil and gas price hikes.

Written by afghandevnews

June 8, 2008 at 7:01 am

Posted in Demining

Mine removal a dangerous, endless task in Afghanistan

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Sun Apr 6, 2008

VANCOUVER (CBC) – People in Afghanistan continue efforts to clear thousands of unexploded mines in their country, despite the added danger they face from the Taliban.

Up to sixty per cent of the land is too dangerous to walk on, littered with landmines and unexploded shells, the legacy of 30 years of conflict – the Soviet invasion, civil war and now the fight against the Taliban.

For the past 18 years, Ahmed Ullah has had one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, gently pulling explosives out of the ground in Afghanistan, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world.

“This work is like a jihad for me, a holy war against landmines. I am a Muslim defending my brothers from bad things,” he told CBC News.

Removing them is slow work. On the weekend, 10 men who were removing mines in Kandahar province were able to clear an area slightly larger than a football field.

This is a dangerous job, not just because of the nature of the work. Those accepting the task have become targets for insurgents. Late last month, five deminers were shot dead in the north of Afghanistan.

The United Nations declared April 4 its third annual International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance on Mine Action.

In Kandahar, the UN Mine Action Centre had to scale back its efforts after two of its workers were murdered last year, allegedly by the Taliban.

“At that time, we almost had 30 demining teams working here in the southern region, but up to now we have only 10 teams,” the centre’s Mohammed Daud said.

Canadian funding, $80-million worth of removal work over the next four years, helps to pay the salary of some 9,000 Aghan deminers. They average $250 a month, which Ullah said helps feed his family.
Copyright © 2008 CBC

Written by afghandevnews

April 6, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Posted in Demining

Australia contributes more to landmine clearing in Afghanistan

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CANBERRA, April 4 (Xinhua) — Australia has decided to commit another 10 million dollars (9.1 million U.S. dollars) on landmine clearance in Afghanistan, said Foreign Minister Stephen Smith hereon Friday.

Speaking on International Mine Action Day, Smith told ABC Radio that there was a significant economic drain on Afghanistan because vast areas of land could not be used productively.

“There is a terrible landmine problem in Afghanistan with many millions of mines left scattered,” he said.

Afghanistan remains one of the most extensively-mined nations on earth.

Australia has already devoted considerable cash and resources towards ridding Afghanistan of landmines.

Written by afghandevnews

April 5, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Posted in Demining

Five Afghan deminers shot dead

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by Bronwen Roberts
Mon Mar 24, 3:34 AM ET

KABUL (AFP) – Gunmen killed five Afghan mine clearers in an ambush on their convoy in northern Afghanistan, their UN-funded company said Monday, in one of the bloodiest attacks on non-government workers in months.

The attackers halted a convoy of workers for Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) in the northern province of Jawzjan as they drove back to their base camp after mine clearing operations in a remote area, their director said.

They opened fire into the first vehicle and shot at the others, which included an ambulance, as they turned around and sped off, director Kefayatullah Eblagh told AFP.

“Three people stopped the vehicle and started shooting at them without saying anything,” he said.

“Five people were killed and seven injured.”

It was the worst attack on the company in its 18 years of operations in Afghanistan, he said. “It was terrible.”

After nearly three decades of war, Afghanistan is one of the world’s most mined countries.

Several companies are working with UN and other international funding to rid it of the devices, which kill or maim scores of people every year.

Police said the attackers had stopped one vehicle by shooting out a tyre and the others were able to escape.

“Then they made five deminers come down and shot them dead,” said the deputy police chief of adjoining Balkh province, Abdul Rauf Taj.

Eblagh said the dead men, who included a driver and a section leader, were aged between 30 and 40 and came from various parts of Afghanistan.

It was not known who the attackers were, he said.

“I don’t think they were targeting Afghan deminers,” he said, adding that the attackers may have thought the convoy belonged to an non-government organisation — some of which have been attacked in the north.

Insurgents from the extremist Taliban group, which was in government between 1996 and 2001, have killed dozens of people associated with the new administration — including non-government workers, doctors and teachers.

Most of their attacks take place in the south and east of the country.

There have however been several incidents in the north, where factional rivalry, warlordism and criminality also have a hand in the violence.

The Taliban says it is expanding its operations in that area and there was some insurgency-linked incidents in the area last year, including in Jawzjan which borders Uzbekistan.

In the past few days, the head of a district in Jawzjan and a highway police commander in northern Kunduz were murdered in incidents the Taliban claimed to have carried out.

But deminers have also been targeted in the spiralling violence in Afghanistan.

In August last year the bullet-riddled bodies of three mine clearers were found dumped in a village in the southern province of Kandahar, which sees a lot of Taliban activity, after they had been missing for several days.

A month earlier, 13 members of a demining team were kidnapped in the eastern province of Paktia by unknown men and released after a week. It is not known if the kidnappers were linked to the Taliban.

And in April last year, dozens of Taliban militants attacked a US-funded mine-clearing team in the south, killing three deminers, three guards and one female passer-by.

Written by afghandevnews

April 5, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Demining, Security