The MAPA clears the Buddha sites (Afghanistan)

The Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) is working to clear minefields in one of most prominent cultural and tourist spots in Afghanistan ' the site of the two giant, 2,000-year-old Buddha statues that were destroyed by the Taliban in March 2001 in Bamyan.


The MAPA, which is coordinated by the United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA) on behalf of the Afghan government, has been clearing minefields surrounding the caves that once housed the Buddhas for the past few years now. The MAPA has already cleared three minefields surrounding the site of the Buddhas and is at work on others.

The Mine Clearance Planning Agency, more commonly known as MCPA, is an Afghan implementing partner of the MAPA that is in charge of surveying the area. The task of surveying involves marking contaminated land so that people can identify and avoid high-risk areas and includes preparing the contaminated area for clearance. Afghan Technical Consultants, or ATC, another Afghan implementing partner, is working to clear the minefields surrounding the caves in Bamyan.

The deminers of MAPA have cleared more than one billion square meters of contaminated land across Afghanistan since 1990, but more than 700 million square meters of contaminated land remain. The remaining contaminated land affects an estimated four million Afghans.

Two deminers lose their lives

Two of the deminers working for the MAPA lost their lives last week in two separate incidents ' one involving an improvised explosive device (IED) and the other a demining accident.

Deminers from OMAR, an Afghan implementing partner of the MAPA, were travelling in a convoy last Thursday on the road from Kandahar to Herat when a remotely controlled improvised explosive device (IED) went off. One deminer died, and two others were injured. In another tragedy on Thursday, a deminer from ATC lost his life in a demining accident in Paktia province.

The incidents bring the number of deminers who have died as a result of insurgent attacks up to seven and the number of deminers who have died as a result of demining accidents up to eight since the start of 2005.

The MAPA plans to restructure

The MAPA is planning a restructuring that will take place this summer in the face of a shortfall in funding. The MAPA plans to downsize its number of staff, which now tops more than 10,000 employees across the nation, and aims to increase the productivity so that Afghanistan will be able to meet its Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty obligations. Under the Treaty, Afghanistan is to become free of the threat of mines and unexploded ordnance by 2013.

Afghanistan, which ranks as one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world, and became a member of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction on 1 March 2003.

Von: 20.6.2006 Relief Web

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