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2001-11-16

Landmines and Unexploded Bombs Litter Afghanistan

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US warplanes continue to pound targets around the Taliban’s home base of Kandahar and the city of Kunduz today, now the main focus of the militia’s strength after a week of retreat. A spokesman for anti-Taliban forces said today that the Taliban still have control over the southern city of Kandahar, despite being chased out of much of Afghanistan,including Kabul.

Since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, land mines and unexploded bombs have made walking across thecratered landscape extremely treacherous. But heavy US shelling over the course of the campaign since October 7th hasgreatly increased the risk of civilian casualties in cities and villages across the country. Humanitarian workers saythat the unexploded and unexpected material on the ground in Afghanistan. Posters on the streets of Kabul warn of thedangers of unexploded bombs.

The UN has warned of the landmine and cluster bomb dangers faced by people returning to their homes in Afghanistan,especially the displaced people in Afghanistan’s northeast.

According to the Mine Action Program for Afghanistan, some 100 million square meters of land east of the city ofTaloqan, in Takhar province, have been continually mined over the last two and a half years. In addition, the areahas been further contaminated due to the new sub-munitions and bombs dropped by the Coalition Forces. The mined areais only an estimate, though-because the UN Mine Action program has not been able to survey the area. Theinaccessibility of the region means that the extent of the hazards of unexploded bombs are completely uncharted.

Sarah Warren moved to Pakistan to work for Save the Children in 1995, where she developed a landmine educationprogram for children in Kabul, which was then in the midst of a landmine crisis. In 1997, she moved to Afghanistan,where she lived for one year under the Taliban regime. Warren also established a pilot project designed to provideassistance to child survivors of landmines and unexploded ordnance, working closely with the Afghan Campaign to BanLandmines.

Guests:

  • Sarah Warren, Program Development Officer, Vietnam Veterans of America, worked with the Afghan Campaign toBan Landmines.
  • Richard Lloyd, spokesperson for the UK-based Landmine Action.

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