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MAPA completes 31 mine-clearing tasks across Afghanistan

Kabul, July 30, 2007 (Pajhwok Afghan News): The Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) Monday said it had completed 31 minefield and battlefield tasks in July alone, benefiting more than 100 communities across the country.

Working toward the achievement of Ottawa Convention benchmarks and in support of International Peace Day on September 21, 2007, the MAPA handed over the cleared land, including villages, roads and pastures, to community members.

The land could be used for farming and housing, contributing to peace and development in Afghanistan, it said in a statement emailed to Pajhwok Afghan News.

According to the statement, the completed tasks include the clearance of 912,212 square meters of minefield and 6,405,204 square meters of battlefield. During the clearance, the MAPA destroyed 118 anti-personnel mines, 35 anti-tank mines and a total of 30,548 pieces of unexploded ordnance (UXO).

The communities benefiting from this clearance were located in Panjwai district of Kandahar, 17 Division of Herat, Kalafgan district of Takhar, Doshi district of Baghlan, Khanabad district of Kunduz, Khinjan district of Baghlan, Syed Karam district of Paktia and the Surkh Rod district of Nangarhar.

In addition, the MAPA provided mine risk education to about 100,000 people nationwide in July, including refugees who returned to Afghanistan through UNCHR encashment centers, the press release said.

On average, the MAPA clears more than 11 million square meters a month and 132 million square meters annually of minefields and battlefields.

An umbrella organisation comprising implementing partners that are coordinated by United Nations Mine Action Center for Afghanistan (UNMACA), the MAPA has cleared more than one billion square meters throughout Afghanistan since 1989 destroying more than 327,000 anti-personnel mines, more than 18,500 anti-tank mines and almost seven million pieces of unexploded ordnance.

Afghanistan became a state party to the Ottawa Convention in March 2003 and committed to clearing all minefields in the country by 2013.