The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

Afghanistan to be cleared of landmines, IEDs in 10 years

A de-mining expert demonstrates how to find land mines in a training area near Hakim Village in central Afghanistan, where Soviet mines dating to the 1980s are still a danger.

Landmines and improvised explosives devices (IEDs) have affected almost all aspects of life in Afghanistan. IEDs, landmines and explosives cause the death and serious injury of civilians, hinder infrastructure and reconstruction works, and leave a legacy of disability in Afghanistan. In an interview with The Kabul Times correspondent, Qari Nooruddin Rustamkhil, Head of Mines Clearance and Coordination of the State Ministry of Disaster Management has said that with the Islamic Emirate (IEA) takeover, more than 210 km2 fields have been cleared from landmines, IEDs and other explosives in the country. “In 2022, an area of 65 km2 has been cleared from 2002 rounds of anti-personnel mines, 625 rounds of anti-tank mines, 3,109 rounds of hand-made mines and 28788 unexploded ordnance have been found and destroyed safely,” Rustamkhil said, adding that besides destroying mines and unexploded ordnance, surveying and clearing contaminated areas, launching public awareness programs and support to disables by relevant non-government organizations are parts of their work. Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with The Kabul Times correspondent, head of the HALO Trust Dr. Farid Hamayoun said the HALO Trust was a humanitarian charity working to save lives, clear landmines, manage weapons and ammunition and teach people to stay safe. He said Afghanistan would be cleared from landmines and unexploded ordnance in the coming 10 years. “Since 1988, HALO Trust has been working in Afghanistan, where we continue to clear landmines and explosives left behind by war,” Hamayoun said, adding that the organization with its 2,300 staff members and 35 active teams are operating in the country’s 25 provinces as Faryab, Balkh, Takhar, Samangan, Baghlan, Badakhshan, Nangarhar, Logar, Kabul, Parwan, Maidan Wardak, Ghazni, Khost, Zabul, Kandahar, Uruzgan, Helmand, Herat, Farah, Ghor and other provinces. According to the head of the organization, conducting surveys in various areas for mines, teaching families and people how to stay safe, and finding and clearing the areas from mines, IEDs and explosives are at the core of HALO Trust activities in Afghanistan. “Currently, 1,600 km2 areas in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces are covered and marked with various landmines, IEDs and explosives,” Hamayoun said, adding that 3,000 of Afghans have lost their lives due to explosions caused by IEDs, landmines and explosives in the country. Pointing to future plans of HALO Trust in Afghanistan, Dr. Farid Hamayoun said based on the organization’s strategic plan, Afghanistan would be cleared from IEDs, landmines and other explosives in coming years, stressing that his organization would continue its activities in agriculture, electricity sector and addressing and managing natural disasters in the country. He also pointed to a range of challenges facing the organization, saying that the organization was facing with lack of necessary instruments and equipment used for clearing and defusing landmines and unexploded ordnance. Based on information of HALO Trust in Afghanistan, a total of 59 square kilometer area has been cleared from IEDs, landmines and explosives since August 2021, a total of 221 square kilometers of new area has been surveyed, and a total of 4,002 mines and 49,435 ammunition have been defused and destroyed. Local people in Nangarhar and Kunar provinces are happy about the activities followed by the HALO Trust organization in the provinces. They ask the respective organization and other international organizations to conduct surveys in remote areas of the provinces. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) considers mine clearance activities as a humanitarian program, asking relevant national and international organizations to not spare their efforts in this regard. Samiullah Momand

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.