Afghanistan: UN mine clearance officials strongly condemn murder of four de-miners

De-miners at work in Afghanistan. Photo: UNAMA/Fraidoon Poya

27 January 2016 – United Nations demining officials in Afghanistan today strongly condemned an attack in which unknown militants shot dead four de-miners while a fifth was reported missing in Helmand province, one of the most heavily mined in the strife-torn country.

“The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) will not be deterred from this important work by such attacks, which violate the most basic principles of humanity,” the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) said in a statement, referring to a grouping that comprises 46 humanitarian and commercial organizations in one of the largest mine action programmes in the world.

MAPA provides employment to over 10,500 Afghan citizens.

“There is no known motive for the unprovoked killing of these humanitarian workers,” UNMAS added of the attack, which took place in Abbazhai village of Nahr-e Seraj district as demining teams were conducting normal mine clearance activities.

Helmand is the largest province in Afghanistan by area and third largest by population. Provincial records show that in landmines, unexploded ordnance and other arms claimed at least 23 civilian casualties in 2015. The province is heavily affected by unexploded ordnance, with 109 known minefields covering 68 square kilometres.

“UNMAS condemns this breach of the understanding that de-miners are neutral, humanitarian workers providing a service to communities in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

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