Landmine, cluster munitions, ERW and abandoned IED contamination of Afghanistan is the result of military actions beginning as early as 1979 and continuing to the present day. Landmines have been used in Afghanistan for conventional military purposes: as defensive barriers around military installations and to protect communications; and to depopulate villages by placing mines in houses, irrigation systems and agricultural and grazing land. Mines were also scattered from aircraft and used by guerrilla forces to block roads and harass the movement of opposition forces. Victims are now Afghan civilians, who face physical danger, and suffer economically as a result of the formidable challenge that landmines and ERW pose to the return of refugees and to the social and economic reconstruction so critical to the country’s political stabilization.
Each year, UN entities, nongovernmental organizations, national and local authorities and donors collaborate to assemble a national portfolio of mine action project proposals that together reflect the strategic response developed in the field to all aspects of the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war. A Country Portfolio Coordinator, usually a representative of a UN agency or a national authority, coordinates meetings where all mine action actors agree on a set of projects and priorities and determine funding needs. The proposals in each country's portfolio are assembled with those of other participating countries and published jointly by the UN Mine Action Service, the UN Development Programme and UNICEF in an annual "Portfolio of Mine Action Projects." This publication serves as a tool for collaborative resource mobilization, coordination and planning of mine action activities.
Scope of the Problem
Despite tremendous achievements, Afghanistan remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Over one million Afghans (3.7% of the total population) live within 500 meters of landmine contaminated areas. During the last two years, an average of 42 civilians per month, over 50% of them boys under the age of 18, died or were injured in mine and ERW accidents. 80% of the remaining areas of landmine and ERW contamination obstruct agricultural areas, a major obstacle in a country where some 70% percent of the labour force is involved in agricultural activities. A significant proportion of contamination is located within 200m of important infrastructure such as irrigation systems, roads, health facilities, camps for the internally displaced, airports, power lines and bridges. There are 43 important development projects planned in Afghanistan which will require some mine action intervention; these projects are vital for the country’s economic development and their success is be at risk if the threat of landmines and ERW is not addressed.
Contamination currently affects a significant number of Afghan communities, 1,847 communities are directly impacted, affecting 5.9% of the total number of communities in Afghanistan. Indirect impact of this contamination on other communities is considerable, affecting travel between communities and development projects that would benefit multiple communities.
Coordination and Consultation
As of June 2012, mine clearance, survey, mine risk education, and victim assistance are conducted by 46 different stakeholders, employing some 13,500 people, who work in 120 districts across 25 provinces. The coordination of all these stakeholders is delivered by the Government mandated Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) working in partnership with the Afghan Government’s Department of Mine Clearance (DMC).
MACCA and DMC work on:
1. Determination of mine action policy, prioritization and planning
2. Monitoring and evaluation
3. Management of the national database Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA).
4. Maintenance and improvement of Afghanistan Mine Action Standards (AMAS), accreditation of implementers and quality assurance of their work
5. Contribution to the care, rehabilitation and integration of people with disability, including landmine survivors, primarily through advocacy and provision of support to the relevant ministries
6. Representation at national and international forums of the programme as a whole
7. Mobilization of resources.
The MACCA is funded through the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (VTF) administered by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). MACCA is an UNMAS project executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS.) The Afghan Government funds DMC with UNMAS supporting a part of DMC’s budget through the provision of office spaces in the MACCA, a vehicle, and a limited budget for travel and training.
UNMAS provides financial and technical support to the MACCA/DMC partnership, including oversight, strategic guidance, and monitoring and evaluation of MACCA activities, through the UNMAS Project Office in Kabul. The Project Office mobilizes resources for the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) as a whole and represents the United Nations in mine action in the country. It also articulates and advocates mine action, the Mine Ban Treaty, and other related treaties. In addition, the Project Office manages the VTF contributions to Afghanistan and is responsible for determining best use of VTF funds.
In March 2003 the Government of Afghanistan became the 126th member state to sign the Ottawa Treaty. According to Article five, Afghanistan should clear all areas contaminated by landmines within ten years of ratification. However due to a number of very valid reasons such as the size and complexity of the contamination, unavailability of necessary resources, and insecurity in some parts of the country this goal is unachievable within the given deadline. In accordance with the convention regulations Afghanistan has submitted a request for a ten-year extension of the current deadline of 31st March 2013, to 31st March 2023.
The ten-year extension request includes a detailed plan (Ottawa work plan) to declare Afghanistan mine-impact free by 2023. The plan sets out 314 projects in order of priority over the period. Hazards (AP and AT minefield, and BF) are ranked in terms of impact on the community and are “projectised” to enable monitoring and evaluation of each project and to help resource mobilize for individual or groups of projects. The plan takes into account productivity rates, the number of available demining assets, and security.
Though this activity will ensure Afghanistan meets its international obligations the humanitarian impact will be much more widely felt; lives and limbs will be saved and the burden of disability on Afghan governmental structures will be reduced, land will be released for productive use, thousands of Afghans will be gainfully employed arguably impacting on stability at the local level, and Afghanistan and international partners can demonstrate, and be proud of, a significant goal achieved.
UNMAS prioritizes seeking funding for the following projects and activities:
a. Coordination: to coordinate all stakeholders towards achieving the Ottawa work plan.
b. Survey and clearance, including emergency response: to reduce mortality and morbidity among conflict affected populations and facilitate development, sustained livelihoods and stabilization through clearance of landmines; and provide a response to mine action emergencies.
c. Mine Risk Education: to reduce injuries and casualties related to mines and UXO in Afghanistan by raising awareness about mines and UXO among all the sectors of Afghan society.
d. Disability support: to assist the Government to increase its capacity and develop necessary structures and standards which coordinate and focus disability efforts and increase access and services.
Date Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty signed: N/A
Date of Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty ratification or accession: Sep 11, 2002
Consents to be bound by Protocol II of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: N/A
Consents to be bound by Amended Protocol II of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: N/A
Date signed Protocol V of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: N/A