60.000 square-meters of future
30 years of war and conflict has left villages north of the Bagram air-strip contaminated with landmines and explosive remnants of war. Since March 2011 the Danish Demining Group have cleared almost 60.000 square-meters of land in order to give the local communities the chance of a new beginning.
Interviews conducted on the 14th of March 2011 by: Mahmmad Atef Central area field officer, Bagram district DDG Afghanistan. Story told by: Mahmmad Tahir, Operation Officer, HQ Kabul DDG, Afghanistan.
During the Russian invasion between 1982-1988 mines were laid around military posts to protect the Bagram air-strip, and during the conflict between the Taliban and the Northern alliance between 1995-2001 more mines were laid.
The reports of local mine related accidents recorded by the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan includes two accidents in 1999 involving local villagers, yet another in 2002 also involving a local villager and two accidents in 2007 involving animals.
DDG Afghanistan started clearance operations in the contaminated area back in March 2011 and have been operating on the completion of seven tasks during the year 2011. The result has been the clearance of 59,521 sqm Mine and UXO contaminated land area, and the destruction of 63 anti-personnel mines and 62 unexploded ordnance (UXO).
In the words of Gul Yasin, s/o Mahbob Shah, from Kharoti village located on the North side of Bagram air-strip, Bagram District in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan DDG demining efforts will have a lasting effect in local communities.
"As you know all factions have fought in the Bagram district since the Soviet occupation and times thereafter until 2001. Our community has been much affected by these conflicts throughout all these years."
"Landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) was scattered in the area during times of conflicts, and could thereafter be found around in our community and on the hill-sides. This created a lot of problems for our community consisting of more than 250 families."
"Mines blocked our access to rain fed agriculture land, pasture of grazing land for our domestic cattle, fire wood and building materials."
"If the area is cleared completely we will grow wheat, be able to feed our cattle, collect fire woods for cooking and collect stones to build houses. All, thanks to demining activities in our local area."
Kafia, a woman from Kharoti village, gave the following comments about de-mining near her home
"Thirty year of conflict has created a lot of different problems for our lives. Some people have fleet from our community; people have been killed in a mine related accident."
"The areas where de-miners are working at the moment were in the past used for our daily activities, but unfortunately these areas have been contaminated by Mines and ERW since the Russian invasion and years of violent conflicts."
"I have seen the starting of de-mining operations this year, and I hope all areas near to us will be cleared as soon as possible so that we will get an economic and social benefit from this within the next year."
Facts: DDG in Afghanistan
As of January 2012, DDG’s operational plan includes 76 Clearance Sections, 4 Mechanical Demining Units, 7 Mine Risk Education and Impact Monitoring teams, 6 survey teams and 4 Support Sections (preparations). This workforce of 850 national staff members is deployed in the northern region and central regions supported by a field office in each of the respective regions and HQ in Kabul.