July 21, 2008

Land Mines Being Cleared in Afghanistan

More than 38,000 land mines have been cleared this year in Afghanistan, one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, a U.N. official said Monday.

The explosive devices removed from the Afghan landscape in the past six months represent 10 percent of the total number cleared in the past 18 years, Haider Reza, program director of the U.N. Mine Action Center for Afghanistan, said in a news release. More than 4 million Afghans live in areas riddled with land mines, the senior U.N. official said.

In addition to the 38,297 anti-personnel mines, bomb experts this year have removed 419 anti-tank mines and 957,362 explosive remnants of war, Reza said.

Afghanistan has committed itself to clear all of land mines by 2013.

Reza attributed much of the recent success to educating local people about de-mining methods. More than 760,000 men, women and children received mine-risk education training this year.

As a result of the clearing activities and training, the number of mine victims fell to a record low of 24 people across the nation in June, he said.