Rising landmine blast toll in Afghanistan highlights long-term care needs of survivors

UNMAS/Cengiz Yar An explosives specialist conducts mine clearance operations after detecting a piece of metal in the mountains near Kabul, Afghanistan.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The number of casualties in Afghanistan from landmines and other explosives has more than tripled since 2012, the UN said on Wednesday, in support of a call to provide more long-term support for survivors.

Latest data from UNMAS, the UN Mine Action Service, shows that 1,415 Afghan civilians were killed or injured by mines and so-called explosive remnants of war (ERW) in 2018.

Children make up eight in 10 of ERW casualties, according to UNMAS, which is attending the 22nd Meeting of Mine Action National Directors and United Nations Advisers (NDM-UN) in Geneva this week.

The UN agency notes that since 1989, more than 18 million ERW items have been cleared, along with more than 730,000 anti-personnel mines including over 750 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and 30,145 anti-tank mines.

“We are still in the prevention business and we aren’t doing all that well,” said Patrick Fruchet, UNMAS Programme Manager, Afghanistan. “In 2012, we were down to about 36 casualties per month in Afghanistan – which is still enormous; those numbers jumped, those numbers jumped year on year. And in 2017, there were more than 150 casualties a month.”

This spike in casualty numbers is linked to “new contamination” by anti-personnel weapons in the country, linked to intensifying conflict between Government forces and Taliban extremists, after 2014.

“We are struggling to handle significant increases in the number of minefields in Afghanistan,” Mr. Fruchet said, noting that the work of the UN agency and its partners was complicated by the fact that the authorities control only around half the country.

“You have provinces where the provincial capitals are very friendly, under Government control, and the rural areas outside those capitals are not, and that is very often where we work,” he said.

Increased funding is critical to Afghanistan’s bid to be landmine-free by 2023, UNMAS says, noting that the Government’s $85.1 million appeal for clearance activities is only around 50 per cent fulfilled.

In an appeal for increased international support and awareness, head of the Legacy of War Foundation and photographer, Giles Duley, described how important long-term care was to his recovery after he lost both legs and a forearm to a landmine in Afghanistan.

A fellow survivor he’d met in Cambodia had not been so lucky and was “living like a dog” because no-one had helped him to learn how to walk on his prosthetic legs, Mr. Duley explained.

“At his house – or his sister’s house where he stayed – we sat there, we drank some tea and we chatted,” he said “Eventually, he showed me the side of this house some beds where the dogs slept. And he pointed to one of the large dog baskets and he said, ‘That is my bed.’ Now his sister was a wonderful woman, she was doing what she could, but she lived in poverty, she had her own family, and so her brother was literally living like a dog.”

Mr Duley insisted that despite the vast amounts of money spent helping victims in the immediate aftermath of an attack, “a huge gap” is left in relation to their longer-term needs.

“And really that is what we are calling for,” he said. “It’s the opportunities for people injured in conflict through no choice of their own, often children who have a full life ahead, are given support to regain their dignity and to be able to support themselves and their families again. It’s not that complicated, it’s not that difficult. We spend millions saving lives, we have to help them get their lives back.”

Without rehabilitation of war victims ‘the country will fail’

Trauma surgeon Shehan Hettiaratchy, from Imperial College Healthcare in London, underlined the wider benefits of accurately assessing survivors’ needs, both for individuals and their communities.

“What we’re trying to do is characterise, what is that healthcare burden once the fighting stops,” Mr Hettiaratchy told journalists. “How long does it go on for? What is it at year one? What’s the healthcare intervention needed to maintain these people whose lives have been saved at high levels of function, so they can contribute back to the society? Because if we don’t have that socio-economic rehabilitation of the victims of war, the country will fail.”

In Afghanistan, landmine survivors make up a small fraction of the nearly three per cent of the population that is registered as having a disability, according to UNMAS.

Blast victim Dr. Mahpekay Sediqi, who works at Kabul Orthopedic Organisation in Afghanistan, echoed the importance of having the latest data to hand: “As of now, the donors don’t have a real picture of the needs in Afghanistan,” she said. “As we said before, the speakers mentioned 2.7 per cent of the population of Afghanistan have disability, but this number is from 2015.”

In the nearly 30 years since UNMAS has been working in Afghanistan, 30,000 people have been either hurt or killed by explosive devices.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Six months into DR Congo’s deadliest Ebola outbreak, top UN official praises ‘brave’ response effort

Eurozone set to abandon monetary and incomes austerity and adopt growth friendly policies

European Council: Choosing new leaders for the EU betrays efforts for a wider arrangement

Monday’s Daily Brief: biodiversity and forests, labour and road safety, women’s rights, and fallen UN staff remembered

European Parliament the most trusted EU institution

UN’s Bachelet addresses progress and setbacks in human rights worldwide

Despite funding crisis, Palestine refugee classrooms set to stay open, says UNRWA

The Europeans back Russia-Turkey on Syria: A ‘Waterloo’ for Saudis and their Crown Prince

Want a fairer society? This economist says he has the answer

GSMA Announces New Speakers for Mobile 360 Series – MENA, in association with The European Sting

EU budget 2021-2027: Commission calls on leaders to set out a roadmap towards an autumn agreement

Why South Africa is on a path of economic renewal

Who can unlock the stalled Brexit negotiations? UK Premier sticks to her proposal

This woman changed the world of work – and you’ve probably never heard of her

Medical Education is #NotATarget

The European Sting @ Mobile World Congress 2014, Creating What’s Next for the World. Can EU Policy follow?

In 1975 NASA envisioned future life in space would look like this

Libya: UN Mission condemns deadly attack against police in country’s south-east

Health spending set to outpace GDP growth to 2030

Sustainable Development Goals: making the world a better place

Trump’s denial of Paris climate agreement; the US Republicans lash out against the world

UN’s Bachelet rejects Sri Lankan official’s ‘spin’ on Human Rights Council encounter, urges reforms

Our tourism system is broken – time to customize

Sustainable investment is on the rise – here’s how to connect the dots

The hidden downsides of autonomous vehicles – and how to avoid them

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Top UN rights official urges transparent probe into Khashoggi disappearance

Over 80 per cent of schools in anglophone Cameroon shut down, as conflict worsens

Conflict, climate change among factors that increase ‘desperation that enables human trafficking to flourish’, says UN chief

The punishment gap: how workplace mistakes hurt women and minorities most

Can the next financial crisis be avoided?

Myanmar and UN agriculture agency agree framework to improve nutrition and food security

Feeling the heat? This is how to keep cool as temperatures rise

Commission supports normalisation in Greece through activation of post-programme framework

These are the cities with the biggest carbon footprints

Would you want to live to 150? Top quotes on what it means to grow old

It will take a lot more than free menstrual pads to end period poverty

The blackened white coat of the doctors

Tackling water scarcity: 4 ways to pull H20 out of thin air

More unemployment and lower wages to make European workers competitive?

EU accused of being too nice with Gazprom in the infamous antitrust case

Monday’s Daily Brief: #ClimateAction for the Pacific, Gaza blockade, attack in Burkina Faso

What data dominance really means, and how countries can compete

The EU Diplomacy in North Korea promotes peace or war?

GSMA announces first speakers for Mobile 360 Series-Middle East and North Africa

Victims of terrorism remembered

An overview of mental health impacts on women diagnosed with gynecologic cancer and suicide prevention

Iran nuclear talks’ deadline extended: the match is still open for many

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: Hunger crisis in DR Congo, Swine Fever in Asia, Venezuela death investigation call, updates on Eritrea and Syria

OECD survey reveals many people unhappy with public services and benefits

Rise in number of children killed, maimed and recruited in conflict: UN report

How to get young people in Europe to swipe right on voting

UN chief praises Japanese climate resilience, as Typhoon Hagibis cleanup begins

Ben Stiller’s new role, more about hope than humour, as he’s named Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR

German synagogue shooting ‘another tragic demonstration of anti-Semitism’: UN chief

What is adversarial artificial intelligence and why does it matter?

Hungary must enforce its foreign bribery offence against companies, including foreign subsidiaries

Shifting Tides: Policy Challenges and Opportunities for the G-20

Australia wants to build a giant underground ‘battery’ to help power the nation

Digital Single Market: Survey shows Europeans are well aware of rules against unjustified geo-blocking

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s