- Afghan context
Afghanistan remains one of the countries most contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), mainly the result of the 1992–1996 internal armed conflict and the decade‐long war of resistance that followed the Soviet invasion of 1979. The United States‐led coalition’s intervention in late 2001 added considerable quantities of unexploded ordnance (UXO) to the problem, including (cluster) sub‐munitions, and this was followed by further mine use by Non‐State Armed Groups (NSAGs).
As a result of the recent wars in Afghanistan the ERW contamination throughout the country continues to pose a serious threat to the safety of the civilian population and deny access to valuable resources including agricultural & grazing land, roads, water sources and residential areas and hinders the repatriation of internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees. In addition, the presence of mines and ERW is considered one of the major challenges in the implementation of relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction and development programs in the country.
Afghanistan has the world’s oldest and largest humanitarian mine action programme, dating back to 1988. Since its inception, involved organisations have worked towards both identifying the scale of the problem and clearing it. Between 1988 and January 2005 a total of 850 square kilometres (km) had been identified as suspect hazardous areas (SHA). The current task list (as per September 2011) provided by the UNMACCA to all implementing partners (IPs) indicates that 6,265suspect hazardous areas (SHAs) remain covering a total area of just over 606 km.
The Afghan National strategy ‐Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA)
The most recent Government of Afghanistan (GoA) endorsed strategy document for mine action was issued in May 2006. It is based on the GoA’s vision of a country free from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), where people and communities live in a safe environment conducive to national development, and where landmine and ERW survivors are fully integrated in the society and thus have their rights and needs recognized and fulfilled.
In order to realize the End‐State Vision and following end goals the National Strategy aims to meet the targets of both the Afghan Compact and the Ottawa Convention. The objective of the AfghanCompact in respect of mine action is that by the end of 2010, ‘the land area contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance will be reduced by 70%.’ By April 2011 the Afghan Compact was met with 69% progress towards the goal. The reasons for not meeting the target are a complex combination of security, funding, and previously unknown hazard being added to the database, hence increasing the benchmark, whilst Afghanistan’s current commitment to the Ottawa Convention requires that Afghanistan is mine impact free by the end of 2013. The UNMACCA as we speak is writing an extension document as it is clear that by the end of 2013 Afghanistan will not meet the targets of the Ottawa convention. It is not yet sure how long extension they are proposing, but all implementing partners (IPs) will be informed as soon as the document is finalized.
In 2002, the Government entrusted interim responsibility for MAPA coordination to the United Nations and UNMAS. As of January 2008, the GoA through the modality of the Inter‐Ministerial Board for Mine Action (IMB) designated the Department of Mine Clearance(DMC) under the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) to work jointly with UNMACCA.
Hence, UNMACCA is responsible for: maintaining the national database of hazards, coordinating delivery of mine action services, recording and reporting implementation progress, and advocating for donor support.
While working towards the transition to Government responsibility for mine action policy and coordination, the UNMACCA must continue to respond to the humanitarian and development constraints posed by contamination with an approach that ensures appropriate assets are directed to the areas of highest priority designed to meet national and international targets and the GoA Strategic Mine Action Goals.