Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan Newsletter: January 2013

THTEE DISTRICTS of HERAT PROVINCE ARE DECLARED FREE of MINES AND ERW

Karokh, Chesht-e Sharif and Obe districts of Herat province are cleared from all type of know mine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and were officially handed over to the communities and Government of Afghanistan during a ceremony held in Herat city, on January 16, 2013.

The ceremony, hosted by the Herat provincial authorities, was well attended by the Herat provincial officials, district elders and governors as well as senior representatives of the United States, Canada, the Chargé d'Affaires of the British Embassy, and a delegation from UNMAS and MACCA.

The historical clashes left these lands contaminated with anti-personnel and anti-tank mines as well as ERW, seriously hampering economic and agricultural activities. From the start of the program, mines and ERW left 49 casualties in these districts, 6 of whom were killed and 43 injured. The demining operations in these three districts began in 1989, and made safe for productive use over 706,804 Square meters of land, unearthing 13,927 different types of mines and ERW.

Clearance in these three districts was mainly carried out by the HALO Trust, but also included DDG, MCPA, MDC and Omar; and the majority of the funding was provided by the British Government, the State Department, and the Canadian Government.

Nic Hailey, Chargé d’Affaires of the British Embassy, said “He is 'delighted that the United Kingdom has supported this project and will continue to support many such projects in the future.”

Dr.Dayem Kakar, General Director of the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), marked his pleasure on the successful completion of clearance works in these districts, he added, “The goal of the Afghan Government is to have an Afghanistan freed of all mines and ERW contamination, so that its people can live in a safe environment, contributing to growth, progress and development of the country.” He further said, “We are very thankful to the United Nations Mine Action Service, the international community and donors, who have supported us in very tough situations, we hope they can continue supporting us to finish the job and clear the remaining hazards. We also greatly thank MACCA for their restless efforts and technical expertise in coordinating the activities of mince action program of Afghanistan.”

Addressing the gathering, Abigail Hartley UNMAS/MACCA Programme Manager, also said “It gives me great pleasure to know that, Karokh, a beautiful place for weekend picnics is now safe for Afghans to enjoy. The people from Obe, famous for saffron, can work and live free from the impact of mines and ERW; and as a result of mine clearance works, Chesht-e Sharif, a place for the famous Herat marble mines as well as Salma Dam is now declared mines and ERW impact free.”

Now that the hazards have been removed, the land will be used for residential houses and other essential needs of the communities such as health clinics, schools, business, and roads, benefiting 8 communities of these three districts directly, and indirectly significantly more people in the region.