Photo: Kabul: A City At Work
We’ve all seen photos of people who’ve died or had their legs blown off because they accidentally stepped on a buried, long-forgotten landmine or other Improvised Explosive Device (IED).Afghans have been living with this reality for decades, and the problem affects locals and international soldiers alike, despite international efforts.
Kabul: A City At Work, a multimedia project on life in Afghanistan, interviewed Mirwais, a “deminer” who has worked tirelessly to rid his district of it’s hidden explosive devices for 15 years. His story illustrates the wider problem of the continuing presence of mines and other remnants of war in one of the most mined countries in the world.
Decades of wars and civil unrest involving the Soviets, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have left the mines.
The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) was set up 20 years ago and was the first to include advocacy, demining, education, and support for survivors.
While Afghan President Karzai has ratified or agreed to the need for the International Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty, he has yet to sign it.
Minefields are also causing loss of land that can be used for farming, building houses, or other productive activities, worsening poverty.
But by December 2011, MAPA had cleared only about half of the number of mines and dangerous areas. Mirwais says the continuing war is making it harder to achieve the 2013 goal.
It's a race against time. In the third quarter of 2011, 67 Afghans were injured or killed by landmines and other IEDs. About 76 per cent were children.
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