The widespread and indiscriminate use of mines and munitions during almost 30 years of conflict has made Afghanistan one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world.
As of 11 March 2010, there were 6,688 hazards remaining affecting 660 sq km and 2,110 communities throughout the country. Previously unknown hazardous areas continue to be discovered each year.
On average there are 40 victims of landmines and explosives remnants of war (ERW) per month. The majority of the victims are male, and more than half are children. The number of victims is declining, but poverty forces many marginalized people to seek an income from ERW scrap metal, and to take risks collecting fuel in mined areas. Mines and ERW not only threaten Afghans with physical harm, they also rob farmers of their livelihoods and impede housing, resettlement and the grazing of livestock.
The Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan (MAPA) is the collective name for the 40 NGOs and commercial organizations carrying out mine action throughout the country. The Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) is the UNMAS-supported body responsible for coordination of all mine action in-country. UNOPS role in Afghanistan is two-fold. Firstly, to provide management services to UNMAS in support of MACCA, including hiring of specialized personnel and procurement of goods. Secondly, to facilitate programme implementation through managing contracts with NGO, commercial and Government partners.
MAPA is funded both bilaterally and through the UNMAS Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action (VTF) and addresses all pillars of mine action including advocacy, mine clearance (survey, marking and clearance), stockpile destruction, mine risk education and victim assistance.
In 2009, MAPA cleared or cancelled 1,229 minefields and 121 battle areas declaring 282 communities mine free. In total this accounted for 50,000 anti-personnel mines and 700 anti-tank mines. The total number of hazards cleared is now over 15,000; this includes minefields and battlefields. MAPA also provided mine risk education to over one million Afghans, 65 per cent of which were children.
MACCA supports three government ministries to improve services, policies and attitudes towards persons with disabilities in Afghanistan. Over 35,000 Afghans received disability awareness training in 2009, and the National Disability Law was passed through Parliament.
The clearance strategy for Afghanistan is focused on achieving the Afghan Compact and mine-ban treaty benchmarks:
- By March 2011, land contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance will be reduced by 70 percent
- By the end of 2010, all unsafe, unserviceable and surplus ammunition will be destroyed
- By 2013, all anti-personnel mines will be cleared.