Afghans will have more farm land free of mines following a four year $20 million Australian investment.
On 4th April, International Day for Mine Awareness, Foreign Minister Rudd said the investment in Afghanistan is Australia's largest ever mine activity, and will clear more than 7.8 million square metres of land, beginning in the Provinces of Khost, Kandahar and Ghor and moving to other high priority areas.
'Landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war continue to maim and kill thousands of innocent civilians globally, compounding poverty and destroying futures,' said Mr Rudd.
'Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world dating back to the Soviet invasion and earlier, and since mid-2009 Australia's support in Afghanistan has cleared 800,000 square metres of land, educated over 6,000 people in avoiding mines, and trained 20 physiotherapists to deliver rehabilitation services.
'This new investment through the United Nations Mine Action Service to the Mine Action Coordination Centre for Afghanistan will build on this work, including training a further 80 physiotherapists and educating an additional 405,000 people to reduce mine accidents.'
The investment forms part of the Australian Government's $100 million Mine Action Strategy, announced in November 2009.
'As a long-standing supporter of mine action, Australians can be justifiably proud of the results of our global mine action efforts.
'In addition to mine clearance, including more than five million square metres in Laos and over 32 million square metres of land in Cambodia, Australian contributions over the past decade have provided prostheses, wheelchairs, rehabilitation and other support, giving thousands of landmine survivors new opportunities to work and fully participate in their communities,' Mr Rudd said.
'Action on landmines is just one part of this Government's commitment to a cost-effective international development program that gets measurable results.'
Minister's Office:02 6277 7500 or 0466 745 615; AusAID:0417 680 590