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    Afghanistan to be cleared of landmines in a decade

    KABUL (PAN): The casualties caused by landmines have declined by 75 percent over the past 10 years and the figure will come down to zero after a decade, a demining organisation said on Tuesday.

    Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) Director Mohammad Siddique Rashid told Pajhwok Afghan News 169 civilians were killed or wounded in mine explosions every month in 2011.

    But the monthly toll fell to 42 in 2012, showing a reduction of 75 percent, he said. Barring Daikaundi province, eastern and southern parts of the country are the worst-hit by mines.

    Over the past 22 years, more than 20,000 kilometres square area has been cleared of mines and unexploded ordnance but a 6,000-km area is yet to be demined. More than a million mines and warheads have been recovered and defused, he added.

    Of the Afghan 34,000 villages, 1,815 faced the danger of mines, the official said, adding eight million females and 12 million males had been educated by MACCA on the risks associated with mines and unexploded materials.

    Forty-three major projects, including water dams in Kunar, Laghman and Takhar provinces and a railway line from Mazar-i-Sharif to Kabul, are currently threatened by landmines.

    “If donors support demining projects, the threat will be eliminated and no one will suffer casualties as a result of explosions in 10 years from now,” Rashid said.

    According to Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) Director Kifayatullah Balagh, more than 100,000 metres square of land has been cleared of unexploded ordnance in the Qasaba area on the outskirts of Kabul since September 2011.

    The US-backed organisation is working in 13 central and eastern provinces of the country. Maj. Gen. Walter D. Givhan, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, says Washington will continue to assist Afghanistan with demining.

    Operations by more than 40 demining organisations in the country are being monitored by MACCA.

    myn/mud



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