UN and IRU De-Mine Afghan Roads

The roads are rough and much dangerous. Not for you and me, but for Afghans. It’s not a walk in your garden or schlepping in the park. It’s about roads marred with landmines and explosive remnants of war that continue to put thousands of communities in Afghanistan in danger. They risk serious injuries or worse, death.

The problem, according to experts, is a solvable one provided there is adequate funding. It requires an estimated US$900 million. And funding is what the de-mining effort in the country is getting, albeit slowly.

Dmitry Titov, United Nations’ (UN) Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, lauded its partnership with global transport workers to make Afghanistan’s roads safer.

“The UN is confident that the landmine problem can be solved in years rather than decades if sufficient funding is made available,” Titov said at a ceremony in New York at which the International Road Transport Union (IRU) donated $2 million to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for its work in Afghanistan.

There are 2,000 Afghan communities that continue to be affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war, which contaminate 650 square kilometers of land across the country.

Maxwell Kerley, UNMAS Director, said the program has cleared 15,000 landmine-contaminated areas in Afghanistan and handed them back to local communities. The cleared area represents more than two-thirds of the affected territory.

“Our program also provides employment for 14,500 Afghans and has contributed to economic progress through the de-mining of roads, railways, power lines and agriculture areas, while yielding substantial humanitarian benefits and saving life and limb,” Kerley added.

The IRU donation will be used to fund a project to clear landmine-contaminated areas along the ring road that links Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, to northern provinces and the neighboring States of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.