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Marco Grob: Combating the Scourge of Landmines in Afghanistan

More than one million people in Afghanistan are affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war. Over forty people are killed or injured every month. In February 2011, TIME photographer Marco Grob went to Afghanistan to support the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). To bring attention to the problems — farmers are unable to plant in contaminated fields; women are unable to access water because surrounding areas are mined; citizens can’t rebuild on land because of the danger of explosion — UNMAS approached TIME’s Marco Grob, known best for his portraiture work, to photograph the impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war on Afghans.Improvising a studio on a former battlefield near one of the country’s most densely contaminated minefields, Grob and his team found the snow and wind a challenge — forcing them to enlist the aid of one of the UN mine clearers, who held a reflector over subjects’ heads to keep the snow off them. When approaching each subject, Grob says, he didn’t want to showcase their injuries. “I choose to concentrate on their faces and the textures of Afghanistan.”Grob, a former soldier in the Swiss army who was trained in laying mines, says his work is far from over. Funding — which is used to train and employ 15,000 men across Afghanistan, providing livelihoods while cleaning up communities — is the only obstacle to ridding Afghanistan of mines. With donations, Afghanistan could be cleared of mines in years instead of decades. “I hope my work helps to raise awareness,” says Grob, “and will help keep the required money flowing.”Photos by Marco GrobWatch the video "UN through the Lens: Combating the Scourge of Landmines in Afghanistan" http://bit.ly/nXAU43