The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA), the world’s largest mine action programme, was established in 1989 to make Afghanistan safe from the threat of mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). After the fall of the Taliban in 2002, the Government of Afghanistan entrusted interim responsibility for mine action to the United Nations. In 2008, the Government assigned the Directorate for Mine Action Coordination (DMAC) under the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) to work collaboratively with UNMAS.
In 2012, UNMAS begun to transfer coordination and operational responsibilities to the DMAC, and in 2016 the operational capacity within UNMAS transitioned to support and advise the DMAC. This gradual transfer toward full national ownership will continue into 2018.
While almost 78% of the known 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 total, 1,530 communities remain affected. Some 3,960 identified hazards remain, impeding development by delaying new road networks, airports, mineral mines, transmission lines and returnee settlement areas.
In addition to the landmines and ERW planned for clearance, new challenges continue to emerge for the programme. The ongoing armed conflict creates additional, deadly ERW contamination, while the increased usage in pressure-plate IED during engagement is causes significantly high civilian casualties. Approximately 147 people per month still lose their lives or limbs as result of mines, ERW or pressure plate IED (PPIED) incidents. Furthermore, due to an increase in victim-activated IEDs over the past three years, the number of casualties recorded is increasing.
Returnees are particularly venerable to the risks posed by mines and ERW due to their lack of knowledge on the extent of the contamination and of the attitudes to adopt to protect themselves. UNMAS provides risk education and awareness to returnees at UNHCR encashment centres and IOM transit centres. For more details, click here.
In response to the use of explosive weapons in Kunduz City in October 2016, MAPA provided an effective emergency response. UNMAS coordinated the near-immediate deployment of its mine action partners to Kunduz to conduct emergency survey and clearance operations and provide risk education. In total, risk education was given to 22,226 people, including children, and partners destroyed 113 ERW in October 2016. For more details, click here.
UNMAS assisted the Government of Afghanistan to successfully request a ten-year extension to complete its commitments under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APMBT). A detailed work plan to achieve mine-free status by 2023 was developed, and UNMAS and its partners continually make progress towards this commitment, however since 2013 funding shortfalls have meant that clearance targets have fallen behind schedule.
Sustained financing is critical for MAPA to declare Afghanistan mine-free by 2023 in line with the country’s obligations under the APMBT. Given the scope of the contamination, achieving this goal would be historic for the country and the world. MAPA is seeking US $117.6 million for 1396 (2017), of which US $97.7 million is for clearance towards the APMBT. The critical gap for UNMAS support to the MAPA and the DMAC in 1397 (2017) is approximately US $1 million, without which many coordination functions, including quality management, data management, and operations and planning would be significantly reduced. UNMAS thanks the following donors for their generous support to MAPA through the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action this project year (1395): Australia, Canada, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Updated: March 2017