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Afghanistan

IMPACT

 

Since 1989, about 46,625 Afghan civilians have been recorded to have been killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW). This averages out to 160 people per month. Improvised mines (IM) and ERW from more recent armed clashes caused over 98 percent of the casualties recorded in 2021. In the same year, more than 79 percent of the ERW casualties were children.

 

Humanitarian mine action partners in Afghanistan have cleared more than 13 million items of ERW, some 758,016 anti-personnel (AP) mines, and some 32,823 anti-vehicle (AV) mines since 1989. Contamination emerged from the post-2010 era, including IM and ERW, poses a challenge to the national mine action programme as it requires renewed approaches on risk education and clearance. A total of 27,824 hazardous areas - have been cleared or otherwise cancelled since 1989. This represents over 3,109 square kilometers of land released for productive use to 3,387 communities. Some 3,781 identified hazards remain, threatening about 1,747 communities, impeding safe movement of civilians and humanitarians, reducing safe access to socio-economic opportunities and impeding development.

 

Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) has reached over 8.9 million beneficiaries since the start of the program. In addition, over 14 million people received explosive threat risk awareness messaging through social media and over 8 million through television and radio broadcast between February and July 2022.

 

The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) was established in 1989. In 2012, the Afghan Directorate for Mine Action Coordination (DMAC) began to execute aspects of the programme management of the MAPA in direct collaboration with UNMAS and obtained ownership on 1 June 2018 after progressive transition when DMAC absorbed all Afghan technical mine action personnel previously employed by UNMAS. At the request of the former Afghan Government, UNMAS stayed to provide continued technical support in areas such as strategic planning and advocacy, resource mobilization, and funds management and contracting, until 14 August 2021.

 

 

ABOUT

 

Since the Taliban assumed control on 15 August 2021, DMAC could no longer carry out day-to-day mine action coordination functions due to the withdrawal of international financial support. Considering the critical coordination gap, at the request of MAPA stakeholders and approval of the United Nations senior leadership in Afghanistan, UNMAS proposed to establish a UN-led mine action coordination mechanism that is independent from the de facto authorities.

 

The United Nations Humanitarian Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan (UN-HMACCA) operationalized from late 2021 to March 2022. Despite initial success, the operation was discontinued due to DMAC’s withdrawal of its recognition in early March 2022. After intense negotiation, on 26 April 2022, the DMAC requested the establishment of a temporary humanitarian mine action coordination body to be managed independently by the United Nations. UNMAS Afghanistan has since requested support from the international community to sustainably operate such a coordination body, which will ensure key coordination functions such as planning and prioritization, quality management, and information management sustain to service humanitarian mine action activities in the country.

 

ACTIVITIES


Nationwide Explosive Survey to Update Contamination Status and Capture Other Humanitarian Needs:

Approximately 25% of the country had been inaccessible for the past 20 years and is suspected to have extensive explosive hazard contamination not currently recorded, in particular IM and ERW. The political change brought new access opportunities into these areas and UNMAS launched the survey initiative from the beginning of 2022. This survey aims to identify and record new contamination, and to release land that is confirmed to be safe to allow civilians, including humanitarian workers to move around and work with greater confidence and safety. Teams will identify ‘forgotten’ communities—an estimated 44,000 communities nationwide that are not formally recorded on any database. The survey will ensure they are then recorded in IMSMA. This process will allow mine action, together with other humanitarian services to be delivered to these populations. Acute humanitarian needs in these communities will be captured and shared with relevant humanitarian partners to inform necessary follow-up, thereby contributing to the delivery of Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan.


Building the National Capacity to Clear Abandoned Improvised Mines (AIM):

Since 2020, UNMAS has launched the initiative to train and mentor national mine action NGOs’ capacity to survey and clear AIM, in order to tackle the threat that has been the leading cause of civilian casualties in relation to explosive contamination accidents in recent years. The clearance of improvised mines involves technical know-how and specialized equipment that goes with it. As of June 2022, 824 personnel from eight humanitarian mine action organizations were trained with AIM clearance, 178 were trained with AIM survey, and 30 were trained with AIM operation quality management, preparing the national capacity to scale up its activities for the survey and clearance of AIM. Concurrently, mine action continues to conduct survey and clearance of other types of explosive hazards including landmines, cluster munition, and ERW, as well as providing quick response to emergency requests, explosive ordnance disposal, EORE, and victim assistance.


Large-Scale Land Clearance and Quick Response:

Since January 2022, UNMAS-contracted teams released more than 3 square kilometers of land through survey and clearance including schools, medical facilities, markets, roads and agricultural lands, as well as safely destroying 62 AIM, 78 AP mines, 22 AV mines, and 1,069 items of ERW. Concurrently, UNMAS deployed quick response capacity nationwide to respond to urgent call-outs and destroy immediate threats, enabling the operation of other humanitarian assistance such as constructing shelters for displaced populations, launching community-based projects that employ local residents, restoring agricultural facilities, constructing retaining wall for floods, and distributing essential supplies to vulnerable populations.


Mass Media Explosive Ordnance Risk Education:

Since 2021, UNMAS initiated a mass media explosive ordnance risk education campaign to maximize the reach of EORE messages and its impact on behavior change of audience through use of media including radio, television and social media. April 2022 only, 44 public service announcements (PSAs) were broadcasted through local TV and radio channels reaching over 8 million Afghans with a wide range of audience in terms of diversity. The PSAs were also distributed through social media channels such as Open Jirga, a media platform providing information on various issues for Afghans administered by BBC Media Action, which reached over 14 million people.

 

FUNDING

 

Since 2011, funding for mine action has steadily dropped in Afghanistan. Since 2017, the annual funding for mine action in the country is less than 30 per cent of that in 2011, while the country is descending into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. While the number of security incidents in relation to armed conflict fell significantly after the political change in August 2021, civilian casualties resulting from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ERW persist. In order to protect civilians and support other humanitarian efforts, Afghanistan is requesting US $200 million for mine action operations in 2022-2023.

 

UNMAS thanks the following donors for their generous support through the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund (VTF) for Assistance in Mine Action in 2021 - 2022): Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, South Korea, Sweden, Finland, United States, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

 

UNMAS also thanks the following donors for continued bilateral support to the MAPA: The United States of America, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), Japan, Finland, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, Afghanistan, PATRIP, Ireland, OCHA, and Slovenia.

 

 

Data as of July 2022