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.

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

Marking international day, UN experts call for urgent action to end racial discrimination, in wake of New Zealand anti-Muslim attack

How speaking ‘parentese’ to your child could make them a faster learner

The EU will always have a stable partner in Montenegro, says President Đukanović

Syrian crisis: EU mobilises an overall pledge of €6.9 billion for 2020 and beyond

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

80 adolescents a day will still die of AIDS by 2030, despite slowdown in epidemic

Libya: Security Council demands commitment to ‘a lasting ceasefire’

US now has most coronavirus cases in the world – Today’s coronavirus updates

A digital tax sounds like a great idea. Here’s why it might not be universally popular

‘Never give up’: UN chief urges all who serve, marking UN Day

Human rights breaches in Hong Kong, Russia and at the US-Mexican border

Does the Erasmus program really contribute to the construction of a solid EU identity?

Asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, symptomatic: what is the difference?

European tourism remains a strong growth factor

This is the human impact of COVID-19 – and how business can help

Why banks escape from competition rules but not pharmaceutical firms

Climate Change and Human Health: Two Faces of The Same Coin

GSMA Mobile World Congress Americas

North Korea missile tests ‘deeply troubling’: senior UN official

How the technology behind deepfakes can benefit all of society

Germany takes cover from Trump in Eurozone and decides to pay for it

Sudzha gas metering station at Russian-Ukrainian border (Copyright: Gazprom, 2015 / Gazprom’s website, Media)

Gazprom starts suspending gas contracts with Ukraine as Brussels fears limited transit to Europe

How much more political is the new EU leadership? Does this include personal bend?

FROM THE FIELD: Faces and Voices of Conflict

A funding gap is hurting developing countries’ efforts to contain COVID-19

The EU launches € 1 billion plan on supercomputers and tries to catch-up with competitors

How AI can ensure your transition to remote work is equitable

Vĕra Jourová, European Commissioner in charge of Justice

The New EU-US “Shield” for data privacy is full of holes

Concern rising over fate of Rohingya refugees sent home by India: UNHCR

Why economic growth depends on closing the interview gap

Next time you fly, could you be boarding a train instead of a plane?

Aid used for trade is helping developing countries diversify

Leaders need hard data to make the hard decisions about sustainability

Countries must make teaching profession more financially and intellectually attractive

The EU seals CETA but plans to re-baptise TTIP after missing the 2016 deadline

Elections in Europe: No risks for the EU, leaders readying to face Trump-Brexit

Tools of asset development: Renewable Energy Projects case

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

This is what is still holding social entrepreneurs back

‘Endemic’ sexual violence surging in South Sudan: UN human rights office

The EU responds to US challenges by fining Apple with €13 billion

Pharmaceuticals spend millions to push TTIP while consumer groups spend peanuts

Facebook has built an AI-based tool that fixes the social network when it crashes

Dignified and non-discriminatory heath care: does anyone even know what it means?

Draghi tells the EU Parliament his relaxed policies are here to stay

How to have a good Fourth Industrial Revolution

World Summit Awards 2016: Sustainable impact through digital innovation

Idai disaster: Stranded victims still need rescue from heavy rains as UN scales up response

Q and A on the draft digital copyright directive

‘Never give up’: UN chief urges all who serve, marking UN Day

A breath of fresh air: How three disused industrial areas became beautiful parks

Parliament boosts efforts to improve its environmental performance

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

World Wildlife Day: UN chief urges ‘more caring’ relationship with nature

The hidden risk of virtual reality – and what to do about it

Press coverage of migration crisis in Europe: a call for collaborative action

Millions of young people need better job skills. Here’s how businesses can help

Yellow vests, rising violence – what’s happening in France?

COVID-19: Budget MEPs call for quick progress on post-2020 contingency plan

Bias in AI is a real problem. Here’s what we should do about it

More Stings?

Advertising

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