Afghanistan Mine Action National Symposium
The Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organised the Afghanistan Mine Action National Symposium to discuss to achievements of the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) and the remaining challenges ahead. Representatives from the Afghan Government, the international community, civil society the media and other interested parties attended.
During the Symposium, Mr. Mohammad Sediq Rashid, Director of MACCA, announced that MAPA had made significant progress since its establishment in 1988; over 20,000 hazardous areas had been cleared, benefiting almost 2,400 communities in 122 districts. “78% of the known contamination has been addressed as a result of MAPA’s hard work, with an 80% reduction in civilian casualties,” said Mr. Mohammad Sediq Rashid.
According to Afghanistan’s 2012 Extension Request to the Mine Ban Treaty, the Government of Afghanistan is obligated to remove all of the remaining mines and explosive remnants of war by 2023. These hazards are currently impacting upon the livelihoods and safety of over 1,500 communities in Afghanistan. Ms. Abigail Hartley, Programme Manager at UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), said that this could be achieved for a total cost of USD 534 million over ten years and that the first year of the Extension Request is proceeding on target: “This budget will ensure the clearance of all known minefields and battle fields, along with other activities such as survey, coordination and project management,” Ms Hartley said.
Dr. Mohammad Abas Baseer spoke on behalf of H.E. Mohammad Karim Khalili, the 2nd Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, referencing the Afghan Goverment’s commitment to mine action as a priority area: “Mine action is at the fore front of the priorities of the Afghan government. I reaffirm the full support of the Afghan government to this programme and its stakeholders, who have worked tirelessly to save lives over these past 24 years.”
H.E. Mr. Mark Bowden, the UN’s Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Afghanistan, said that the UN was committed to strengthening Afghanistan; through his speech at the symposium mentioned that: “The UN is committed to strengthening Afghan institutions and political processes, to move away from supply-driven assistance and to support agreed national priorities and national budgetary systems. What we do and the way we work must always reinforce Afghan efforts.” H.E. Mr Bowden urged all those present to maintain their support to ensure that Afghanistan reached mine-free status by 2023, which, he said, would be a “monumental achievement”.