On July 28th, 2002, his Excellency President Hamid Karzai announced that Afghanistan would become a State Party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (also know as the Ottawa Convention). At the same time, the Afghan Government issued a challenge to the international community to help make Afghanistan free of landmines in 5 five years.
The Afghan Government became the 126th state to ratify the Convention, depositing its instrument of ratification on September 11, 2002. In order to meet the requirements of the Government and address its obligations regarding the Convention, the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) has developed a new strategy for mine action in Afghanistan which responds to the country's urgent humanitarian and economic needs. This strategy consists of a 5-10 year concept. A period of five years (2003 till 2007) will be required to clear all mine and UXO contaminated areas having a high impact on Afghan communities and to mark all low impact areas. During the following five years (2008 till the 2012), all the low impact areas will be cleared.
This new strategy offers the unique opportunity to maximise the potential of MAPA's implementing NGOs and accelerate the output of socio-economic benefits of mine clearance if operations are accelerated. The achievements of MAPA have thus far been considerable. Roughly 254 square kilometres of mined land has been cleared over the past 12 years, often in difficult circumstances. With the acceleration of the programme, roughly 420 square kilometres of land can be cleared within five years. Such an acceleration in progress will bring a sharp reduction in the numbers of innocent Afghans that suffer from the after effects of war and will bring a substantial increase in socio-economic benefits. The following documents outline the elements of the new mine action strategy and illustrate the accompanying benefits of accelerating mine clearance operations.
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