UN-Backed Mine Clearing Project in Afghanistan reports 34 project personnel killed in 2014



16 January 2015 – New York City, USA – The United Nations-supported Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan (MAPA) has said today that while 2014 could prove to have been a major turning point in the country’s long and tortured history, it was also a year that had inflicted “immense and unprecedented tragedy” on the programme’s personnel.

150116-pmwj31-mine-IMAGEOver the year, MAPA was directly affected by 37 security incidents that resulted in 34 deaths among its personnel and 27 injuries, with an attack on a de-mining project near a copper mine in Logar province in June and a second in Helmand province in December accounting for 19 of the deaths and nine injuries.

“The total of 34 de-miners killed in 2014 is almost equal to the total number over the previous four years combined,” said a press statement released by the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA), which is managed by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS).

MACCA’s statement also countered reports in the Afghan media that two recent attacks on de-miners working for the Programme were carried out because they were clearing IEDs in an area of ongoing conflict.

“We refute this explanation and once again condemn these attacks,” said the statement, referring to the December attack in Helmand province and another in Logar province on 9 January. “The clearance of IEDs where fighting continues is not the responsibility of MAPA and it has never conducted such clearance.”

The statement notes that MAPA is involved in clearing explosive hazards but only in cases where fighting in an area has ended and internally displaced people have returned to their homes and requested the clearing of lands. In such instances clearance goes ahead only to improve public safety and when it avoids interference in active conflict.

‘The preservation of MAPA’s neutrality is key to its continued services to communities in Afghanistan,” said the statement, stressing that support from the people was “paramount” to the Programme’s enduring success and resilience. “MAPA has never and will never implement any operations that go against that policy.” One of the largest mine action programmes in the world and the first ever humanitarian, non-military programme,

MAPA comprises 50 national and international partners from commercial and non-profit spheres, with a 26 year history of cooperation that has seen over 23,000 hazardous areas cleared and a resulting decline in civilian casualties by almost 80 per cent. MAPA has maintained its humanitarian neutrality throughout its history, working with all Governments and operating to ensure the safety of Afghan civilians.

More about MAPA can be found at http://www.mineaction.org/programmes/afghanistan

The United Nations (UN) is an international organization established in 1945 to facilitate cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and world peace. Currently with 193 member states, the UN is based in New York City, with other main offices in Geneva, Nairobi, and Vienna. More information at http://www.un.org/en/

Source: United Nations