Afghanistan: Finish the Job by 2023!
On 8 December 2005, the UN General Assembly declared that April 4 of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This day is also celebrated each year in Afghanistan by government and civil society organizations.
Observing 4 April in Afghanistan is a great opportunity for Afghans to strengthen their efforts against the plague of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war, because Afghanistan is still one of the most affected countries in the world where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.
The challenges facing Afghanistan include close to 600sqkm land contaminated by mines which is affecting 1,530 communities, 257 districts in 33 provinces and causing an average casualties of 140 lives and limbs every month. According to the Landmine Monitor 2016 report in 2015 the mine causalities were 1310 people; 34% of them were children and 66% were adult. While unfortunately, Afghanistan has the highest mine casualties in the word and the most landmine victims in the world, the government of Afghanistan and donor communities have not done enough to address the needs and rights of mines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war.
The government of Afghanistan is committed, under the Mine Ban Treaty or the Ottawa Convention to complete landmine clearance by the year, 2023. We strongly encourage the government to remain committed to this goal and step up efforts to make Afghanistan free of landmines even before the 2023.
On other hand, 2.7% of populations of Afghanistan are persons with disabilities/survivors, who need immediate care (NDSA 2005). But the issue is not a priority for the government of Afghanistan, therefore little has been done to provide adequate support for rehabilitation and inclusions of persons with disabilities/survivors in society.
However, in recent years new opportunities created for the people of Afghanistan by technical and financial support of international communities for rebuilding of the infrastructure of education, health, economy and social sectors. Many schools were built for millions of boys and girls all over the county.
Despite, the opportunities, persons with disabilities/survivors have been facing different challenges continuously in society deprived of their basic rights to education, employment and healthcare.
The government of Afghanistan has ratified and approved the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) and adopted the National Law on the Rights and Benefits of Persons with Disabilities (NLRBPD). The ratification and approval of these national and international laws obligate the government to take necessary measures to promote and protect the rights of persons with disabilities/survivors to enjoy their basic rights. Unfortunately, the government does not have any priorities for the implementation of the laws and conventions.
Disability issues are not on the priority list of the government which resulted drastic decrease of supports in disability sector in the past three years. The disabilities/survivors organizations strongly urge the government of Afghanistan and donors, including mine action donors to consider disability and assistance to mine survivors a priority, both in policy and practice.
We also call on all sides involved in the current conflicts to protect the lives of civilians. All sides of the conflicts have to respect the intentional humanitarian and human rights laws.