Land mines and other explosives cause 150 casualties a month, Anadolu Agency cited Patrick Fruchet, UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) program manager for Afghanistan, as saying.
“In 2012, we were down to about 36 casualties per month in Afghanistan -- which is still enormous; those numbers jumped, those numbers jumped year-on-year,” Fruchet said late Wednesday in a statement, warning that UN officials and agencies are “struggling to handle significant increases in the number of minefields in Afghanistan.”
Fruchet said the spike in casualties was linked to intensifying conflict between government forces and the Taliban after 2014.
“The work of the UN agency and its partners is complicated by the fact that the authorities control only around half the country,” he noted.
Urging more long-term support for land-mine survivors, the UN official said last year that 1,415 Afghan civilians were killed or injured by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW).
“Children make up eight in 10 of ERW casualties,” he said.
UNMAS said that since 1989, more than 18 million ERW items have been cleared, along with more than 730,000 anti-personnel mines including over 750 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 30,145 anti-tank mines across the world.
“We are still in the prevention business and we aren’t doing all that well,” said Fruchet.
He said Afghan provinces under government control “are very friendly” but the rural areas “outside those capitals are not, and that is very often where we work”.
“Increased funding is critical to Afghanistan’s bid to be landmine-free by 2023,” he said, noting that the government’s $85.1 million appeal for clearance activities is only around 50 percent fulfilled.