The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) comprises 43 humanitarian and commercial organizations that employ over 9,600 Afghans (5,000 humanitarian and 4,600 commercial), making it one of the largest in the world. After being entrusted by the Government of Afghanistan with interim responsibility for coordination of the MAPA in 2002, UNMAS has worked over the last decade and a half to build the capacity of the Government’s own coordination body – the Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC) under the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority. Today, DMAC has taken the lead on coordination, with UNMAS continuing to provide strategic, technical and financial support, to assist the Government in meeting its obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty. UNMAS funds and manages Afghan personnel who help DMAC ensure demining operations are planned and prioritised, quality managed and serviced by effective information management systems. It also funds demining, risk education and victim assistance operations through implementing partners, and provides the programme with resource mobilization capacities.
MAPA has achieved a great deal during its 27 years, releasing 24,507 hazardous areas covering 2,289 sq km of land. As a result, the number of recorded civilian casualties from conventional mines and ERW has dropped from an average of 16 a day in 1998 to less than one a day in 2015.
During 2012 and 2013, UNMAS assisted the Afghan Government in successfully requesting a ten-year extension to its original 2013 deadline for clearing anti-personnel mine contamination under the APMBT. As part of this request, a detailed work plan to achieve mine-free status by 2023 was developed, in which all recorded mine and ERW contamination was divided into 308 projects. While the plan’s target for the first project year (2013/14) was achieved, funding shortfalls in 2014/15 and 2015/16 mean the MAPA has now fallen behind schedule.
Aside from this setback, great achievements continue to be made. For example, the world’s largest ever ERW clearance operation is currently responding to contaminated training ranges left by international military forces as a result of UNMAS advocacy efforts. Following the use of explosive weapons in Kunduz city in September and October 2015, UNMAS facilitated the near-immediate deployment of its mine action partners to the city to deliver emergency survey, clearance and risk education.
While 78% of the area contaminated by recorded minefields and battlefields has been cleared, the remaining 22% still qualifies Afghanistan as one of the countries most affected by landmines and ERW in the world. In total, 1,587 communities remain affected in 257 districts across the country. Some 4,337 hazards remain, impeding national development by delaying the delivery of new highway and road networks, airports, mines, transmission lines and settlements.
In addition to the landmines and ERW planned for clearance in the ten-year Extension Request Work Plan, new challenges continue to emerge for the programme. While the training ranges left by international forces are now being cleared, the continuation of armed conflict is inevitably creating new ERW. Pressure-plate IED contamination, which now causes significantly more civilian casualties than conventional mines and other ERW, is of particular concern.
Sustained financing is critical for MAPA to declare Afghanistan mine-free by 2023 in line with its obligations under the APMBT. Achieving this goal would be historic for Afghanistan and the world, given the scope of the problem. If funds are not secured, Afghanistan will not be able to fulfill its international obligations under the APMBT.
To reach the clearance target for the 2016/17 project year, the programme needs an additional USD 64.9 million.
UNMAS thanks the following donors for their generous support to MAPA through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 project years: Canada, Denmark Finland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Updated: October 2016