Afghanistan to be cleared of mine within 7 years
KABUL, Apr 3, 2006 -- The post-war and most mine contaminated Afghanistan would be cleared of millions of mines within the next seven years with the support of international community, the country's director of British-based de-mining agency HALO Trust said Monday.
"So far more than 1 billion square meters have been cleared of mines in Afghanistan which we still have about 716 million square meters to clear in the coming years and I hope before 2013," Farid Hamayoun told journalists here.
He also added that mine explosions over the past two decades had affected 4.2 million Afghans or about 25 percent of the war- shattered country's population.
"There are 4.2 million Afghans directly or indirectly have affected by mines," he stressed.
His comment coincided with the message of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on the eve of International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action in which the UN body chief called on governments to ratify the anti-personnel mine ban treaty.
Hamayoun also called on Afghan government as a signatory to Ottawa Convention to destroy all mines and stockpiles by 2007.
Afghanistan joined the Convention on March 1, 2003, which will assist the government in meeting its stockpile destruction obligations.
Several UN-funded de-mining organizations have been engaged in Afghanistan since 1988 to sweep and defuse millions of mines planted by invading former Soviet Union's army, Afghan resistance groups, rival factions and Taliban militias over the past two decades.
Though there is no official figure about the mines' victims in Afghanistan, the authorities believe that 1.5 million people had either been killed or maimed in mine explosions over the past 25 years of war and civil strife.
Von: 03.04.2006, www.reliefweb.int