War In Afghanistan
NZ Campaign Against Landmines
Optimists will say that the Taliban is in full retreat and the war is over.
Pessimists will say that the war will continue for years because major parts of the Taleban army are still in existence.
Realists will say that regardless of these issues the war is far from over. For many years to come men women and children will be killed or maimed from landmines and cluster bombs (UXOs).
Even with the world's most advanced mine clearing programme and after eight years of intensive effort there were still an estimated seven million mines creating human suffering in all but two of the 29 provinces in that country.
Red Cross officials recorded 2,800 deaths and injuries from mines and UXOs between 1998 and 2000. Many of the injured die before they reach medical treatment. With the current situation and the increased use of UXOs, with refugees crossing land unfamiliar to them and with hungry people rushing to pick up food air dropped which are the same colour as unexploded cluster bombs, the casualty rate is expected to rise dramatically.
The United Nations Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) stopped its essential programme and took its 4,800 explosives experts to camps in Pakistan for further training.
Another demining organisation, the Afghan Technical Consultants, stayed and on the 9th October four of its employees were killed in a US airstrike. This organisation is supported by the European Union and is a partner of the United Nations.
This delay in mine clearing is tragic for the people of Afghanistan. Mine clearance in just priority areas will take a further seven to ten years even if the earlier clearance rates had been maintained.
Much of the land affected by landmines needs to be used for agriculture and housing, so for the sake of the people and the economy of the country it is important that demining begins as soon as possible.
Can our Army Engineer/Deminers assist?
Bringing representative and responsible Government to Afghanistan is essential but life for the people in the cities and countryside will not be at peace until these millions of landmines have been cleared.
John V Head
Spokesperson for the NZ Campaign Against Landmines (CALM)
49a Wharemauku Road
Kapiti Coast 6010
Phone 04 905 5524
14 November 2001
CALM New Zealand
49a Wharemauku Road, Raumati, Kapiti Coast, New Zealand