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Afghanistan adheres to the Ottawa treaty

31-07-2002 News Release 02/31

The Afghan government announced this week that it will accede to the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines, a step which will make Afghanistan the 126th State party to this important treaty. The decision amounts to a clear statement in favour of an end to the scourge of landmines.

Though fighting in the country has subsided recently, Afghanistan remains one of the countries most severely infested by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Millions of such devices are scattered over thousands of square kilometres of its territory. This deadly legacy of more than two decades of conflict has had – and continues to have – a terrible impact on the civilian population. Mines and UXO cause over 100 deaths or serious injuries every month. Over the years, some 200,000 people have been permanently disabled by these most treacherous of weapons. Most victims (70%) are civilians; over one in 10 is a child under 14 years old.

In addition to killing and maiming people, mines and UXO destroy valuable livestock, deny people access to agricultural and grazing land, shelter and water, prevent the repair of essential infrastructure such as roads, bridges, irrigation systems and schools, and cause major damage to both Afghanistan's economy and social fabric.

In the past 15 years, the ICRC has been able to assist 20,000 mine victims with services such as surgical care, limb-fitting, rehabilitation and economic and educational support. The organization also gathers precise information on casualties in order to identify risky behaviour patterns, and uses the resulting data to optimize its mine-awareness programmes