(October, Afghanistan) Kandahar Province, one of the most rugged, rural areas of Afghanistan, is also one of the country’s most mine-contaminated areas. UNMAS estimates that nearly 26,000 inhabitants of Kandahar Province live within 500 meters of a minefield. In 2011, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) allocated US$25.8 million to assist Afghanistan’s development by supporting demining operations in Kandahar. The two-year Emirates Mine Clearance Project Afghanistan (EMCPA) followed a community-based demining (CBD) approach and resulted in the clearance of 45% of the hazardous areas in Kandahar. The project also generated employment for over 1,000 people in Kandahar and resulted in the release of land to local communities for agriculture and other income-generating activities. Land was also released for the construction of essential infrastructure, including much-needed houses for returning refugees.
The UAE has made a remarkable contribution to ensuring that Afghanistan meets its international obligations under the Ottawa Treaty and can declare itself mine-free by 2023. This goal is within reach but will require the positive momentum generated by the EMCPA project to be sustained as well as continued commitments from donors.
Abdul Samy, MACCA’s Kandahar Area Manager: “[The UAE] are supporting the people of Afghanistan and playing a critical humanitarian role in saving lives, bringing peace, and developing Afghanistan.”
[PHOTO] Mohammad Azim Nawabi, Director of Kandahar Refugees Department, signs handover documents. The land will now be used by local people for agriculture and other income generating activities. Photo Credit: MACCA