Afghanistan

Demining suspended in Southern Afghanistan following bomb attacks

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News and Press Release
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Posted
Originally published
Kabul, 2 June 2005 - The United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan is temporarily suspending all demining operations on the Kandahar to Herat section of the national ring road and on secondary connector roads in Helmand and Farah provinces. This follows bomb attacks against demining teams.

Two Afghan deminers from the Mine Detection Dog Center (MDC) were killed yesterday and a further five injured when their vehicle was bombed on the outskirts of Grishk City, Helmand Province. This is the third bomb attack against Afghan demining organisations in the past two weeks. On 18 May three MDC staff were killed in the vicinity of Toot, Farah Province, in a roadside attack. Another bomb on 29 May near Farah Rod City, Farah Province, targeted a vehicle from the Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA). There were no casualties in the attack on MCPA, which like MDC is an Afghan NGO working to clear mines laid along roads in Southern Afghanistan and elsewhere during past conflicts. This clearance work is necessary so that reconstruction teams can safely rebuild these vital links.

"We condemn these targeted attacks against deminers and call on the Afghan authorities to bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes," said Dan Kelly, the Programme Manager of the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan. "These brave men risk their lives in minefields every day to improve the situation for their fellow Afghans. They should not be attacked."

Kelly will be meeting with the demining NGO directors and security officials in the coming days to assess the situation and to design a plan for enhanced security for demining teams in Afghanistan. Once these plans are in place operations on the road projects will recommence.

Background

Landmine and unexploded ordnance contamination affects some 2,368 communities in Afghanistan, killing or injuring as many as 100 Afghans a month and impeding reconstruction efforts. MDC and MCPA are two of 16 Afghan and International non-governmental organisations working under the rubric of the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan, which is coordinated by the United Nations Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan. All told the MAPA partners employ some 8,700 Afghans, who work in mine clearance and mine risk education. The MAPA is working to make Afghanistan mine and unexploded ordnance impact free as soon as possible.

For More Information Contact:

Patrick Fruchet
External Relations Officer
United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan
patrick@unmaca.org
mobile #: 00 93 (0) 70 276 645