The acting State Minister for Natural Disasters urged the international community to help Afghanistan in efforts to clear land mines and unexploded ordnance.
Speaking at an event held to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Minister Mohammad Abas Akhund criticized international donors for slashing their aid in the demining sector of Afghanistan.
“We call on international organizations to fully cooperate with us in this regard. I mean, if they have now appointed four people make it eight people to increase the number of demining workers,” he said.
Akhund said that there are many areas in Afghanistan that have not been cleared of mines.
Speaking at the gathering, an office of the HALO Trust—a humanitarian non-government organization which protects lives and restores livelihoods of people affected by conflict— said that at least 864 people have been killed or maimed in 2022.
“In 2022, approximately, 864 people were victims of unexploded ordinance. Among them, 411 people were martyred and 453 others were wounded,” said Farid Homayoun, an official the HALO Trust company.
The Directorate of Mine Action said that 3,500 square meters have been cleared of mines and 1,200 km other areas have been surveyed and need to be cleared.
According to officials within the Disaster Management Ministry, explosion of unexploded ordnance happens mainly in areas where scrap metal is being collected.
“I had a good life then. Now as time passes, my life is deteriorating. My leg has gone through a second surgery,” said Mohammad Sadiq, a victim of a land mine.
“Our salaries have dropped. The fund that existed before is no longer available. The company is paying the salaries from savings,” said Ahmad Zia, an employee of a demining organization.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that since 1989, almost 57,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war, and mine action partners in Afghanistan have cleared over 19 million items.
“More than 4,150 identified hazards remain, posing a lethal threat to communities, in particular children,” OCHA said.