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 victime landmine                                                                                                                                  

NATO and “Troop Contributing Nations” to Afghanistan have the legal and moral obligation to properly clear all sites used to fire weapons, battlefields, former military bases and their surroundings of all explosive remnants of war (ERW) resulting from their operations in the past 12 years. This is demanded by ENNA and Handicap International. Improper clearance of former military sites is in contravention with the Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), that stipulates that parties to armed conflicts are obligated to clear ERW from all sites. Most countries currently operating in Afghanistan have ratified Protocol V.

The Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan’s (MACCA) data shows that Afghan civilians are being increasingly killed and injured because of ERW left behind on International Military Forces  vacated sites. These incidents saw a sharp rise in 2013 as more military firing ranges and bases are being closed down and are not properly cleared before land is being handed back to communities.

MACCA’s data on civilian casualties resulting from ERW accidents in former international military sites between 2010 and 2013 are the following:

60 casualties: 15 deaths and 45 injuries,

88% of them being children,

55% of incidents (33) happened in the first 9 months of 2013, other 38% took place in 2012,

93% of the total incidents happened in the past 2 years, clearly indicating a growing problem that coincides with the drawdown of IMF,

The incidents happened in at least 10 out of 34 provinces.                                                

 

                                                                                Sanim HASHIMI, coordinator at UN MACCA  

 

What is being done and should be done about it

MACCA and other UN actors , notably the UN Humanitarian Representative and the United Nations Mine Action Service, have been engaging in discussions with International Military Forces, that now recognize the problem. ISAF’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) pertaining to closures and clean-up of firing ranges have been reviewed with the support of MACCA to systematically include ERW clearance operations.

One of the key remaining challenges is to obtain precise data : location of the contaminated sites, status of clearance work, etc.. The current lack of data hinders a comprehensive estimation of the clearance cost or of the exact surface to be cleared. 

 “Troop Contributing Nations” have the responsibility to finance the marking of the threats, clearance operations and mine/ERW Risk Education activities that are to be conducted by the MACCA and its implementing partners.

The victims, their families and affected communities need support and therefore it is the responsibility of “Troop Contributing Nations” to finance Victim Assistance activities targeting ERW victims and people with disabilities, as per the provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the Protocol V to the CCW Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

 

Facts from Handicap International     IMF contamination HI 

See snapshot of civilan casualities in 2013 :      source UNAMA / OCHA      AFG SNAPSHOT 2013