MACCA director urges more funds to speed up demining process
KABUL - The programme director of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) has urged more funding for the demining process in Afghanistan to fill a funding shortfall of US$ 163 million.
MACCA Programme Director Dr Haider Reza said MACCA now faces a funding shortfall for mine clearance of US$ 163 million against the funding target of US$ 242 million for mine action programmes in 2010.
Dr Reza added that because of the funding shortfall, the Afghan Compact benchmark of clearing 293 square kilometres of contaminated land in 2010 may not be met.
Under the Afghanistan Compact and the Ottawa Convention, Afghanistan committed to reduce the area contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war by 70 per cent by the beginning of March 2011, and achieve total mine clearance by the beginning of March 2013.
“Now looking at these two benchmarks, I can already now say that Afghanistan will be forced to ask for extension,” said Dr Reza.
“Simply because of different reasons, one is funding at the very top, if we have enough fund, we can do much more, and second, there are other reasons, for example the security,” he added, pointing out that “if required funding flows to the programme, 157 sq km of contaminated land can be removed in 2010.”
Dr Reza also stressed that mine action has done “a tremendous job” in the country. During the 20 past years, Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) has cleared over 15,000 hazard areas throughout the country; and 84 districts and 1,370 communities have been declared free of mines and other explosive remnants of war.
Based on the Integrated Operational Framework for 2010 released by MACCA, the MAPA will concentrate its effort in areas where – from the humanitarian perspective – there is a need, including diminishing the number of victims of mine explosions and explosive remnants of war.
The average number of mine victims per month now is only about 40, lower than one quarter of the number of victims per month in 2001.
“The good thing about the MAPA is that with the workforce of around 10,000 people, there is potential in the capacity to expand the programme in a realistic and logical way, provided there is a funding.”
“And another very important portion of our work or the mine action activities is the mine-risk education and victim assistance,” he added.
In 2009, 280 communities across Afghanistan were declared impact-free.
Last year, some 51,743 anti-personnel mines, 1,152,738 explosive remnants of war and 746 anti-tank mines were destroyed by clearing or cancelling 1,229 minefields and 121 battle areas; and 430,989 women and girls, and 655,018 men and boys received mine-risk education courses across Afghanistan.
By Kangying Guo, UNAMA