Landmines, explosives cause over 1,400 deaths in Afghanistan in two years: UN

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Afghanistan reports that from January 2022 to February 2024, at least 1,401 people in Afghanistan were killed or injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war.

Afghanistan ranks among the countries most affected by landmines and ERW, posing significant challenges to its recovery and stability. Nearly 4 million people live in constant danger, with an estimated 1.2 million square meters of land contaminated.

Explosive hazards are now the second leading cause of civilian casualties in the country, with children making up 86% of the 1,401 casualties recorded between January 2022 and February 2024, OCHA said.

Contaminated areas span 262 districts, including regions near schools and water sources, impacting the physical and mental health of residents, limiting land use, and hindering development. This is especially true for those reliant on agriculture, as well as refugees, migrants, and returnees.

Survivors of explosive incidents often face significant challenges, including amputations, hearing loss, shrapnel injuries, and mental health issues, necessitating long-term care and rehabilitation. This not only strains finances but also affects their ability to reintegrate into society, impacting families and communities at large.

A significant risk factor is the collection of scrap metal, a common yet dangerous income source for Afghan families, with ERW responsible for 88% of recent incidents. Differentiating between harmless scrap and live munitions is both difficult and deadly.

Funding Crisis

OCHA highlights the critical role of mine action in transforming dangerous lands into safe, usable areas. However, Afghanistan’s mine action sector is facing a significant funding shortfall. In 2023, only 14% of the 4.4 million people in need of mine action services received help, affecting mine clearance, risk education, and survivor assistance projects. Some projects have halted, while others have funding only until August 2024.

With only 13% of the required funding secured for 2024, the need for increased international support is urgent to address one of Afghanistan’s most pressing issues, OCHA said.