A mine victim in Afghanistan
A mine victim in Afghanistan
Afghanistan one of the most mine-affected countries

The News International, Nov.6, 1998
By Ismail Khan

Ginola may eclipse Diana as landmines campaigner

AFP, Nov.5,1998

LONDON: A French soccer star told British tabloid that he may be a more effective campaigner against land mines than the late Princess Diana.

"In Angola, if they see a blond woman arriving, it means nothing important. But to see a footballer is really something," Divid Ginola, who plays for England's Tottenham Hotspur soccer team in north London, said in an interview published Wednesday in the Express.

Ginola, a native of France who is also a part-time model, agreed this summer to be the public face of the international committee for the Red Cross campaign against land mines. He visited the war-devastated Angola in August.

The Princess, who helped give the anti-mine crusade huge worldwide publicity, visited in January 1997 and was photographed in a blue flak jacket and visor used by the mine clearance crews. She died in a Paris car crash on Aug.31, 1997.

Soccer "is an international language and is the best means of communicating this issue around the world," Ginola is quoted as saying in the newspaper.

"You get someone like me who used their legs to earn a living, then you see pictures of people whose legs have been blown up by land mines. The two images send a very powerful message." But Ginola told the Express that "I understand my place." - AFP
Diana's short life didn't allow her to take notice of this shocking face, will David Gnola pay heed to that? Will he take the trouble to visit forgotten the most mine-affected country?

A landmine victim in Afghanistan
A mine victim in Afghanistan
PESHAWAR: Latest reports suggest that nearly two decades after Afghanistan plunged into civil war, it is still one of the severely mine-affected countries in the world.

A report published in the 'Hidden Killer' compiled by the Office of Humanitarian Demining Programmes of United States Department of State Bureau of Political- Military Affairs quotes the UN figure for the number of Landmines in Afghanistan at 10 million, though the original source of this estimate, it points out, cannot be verified and the actual number may thus never be determined. Quoting another UN study report, it said that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA) reduced the number of landmines to between 5-7 million. Some NGOs, based on actual experience in heavily mind areas, claim that the official estimates are still too high and should be lowered than to less than a million. An estimate by The HALO Trust in 1997 put the figure of landmines at 6,20,000. Roughly 50 different types of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines have been identified during the clearance to a UNDHA report.

The estimates are still high enough to place Afghanistan among one of the 12 heavily mine-affected countries of the world. They include Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Eritrea, Iraq, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, Nicaragua and Sudan. These 12 countries together account for almost 50 percent of the landmines currently deployed in the world and also suffer the highest number of landmines casualties.

The report released in September 1998 identified provinces bordering Pakistan and Iran- the western, southern and eastern parts of Afghanistan, covering 162 of the total 356 districts as mine-affected. Security belts of landmines exist around major cities and at airports, government installations, and power stations. Grazing lands, waterways, schools, paths, villages and cities are infested with mostly antipersonnel mines.

The majority of landmines, the report said; have been found in agricultural and grazing lands and in or near irrigation system. It said landmines are responsible for depopulation of vast tracts of the countryside, affecting crop harvests and interfering with the transportation of food supplies into the cities. Roughly 50 percent of Afghan villages and an estimated 25 percent of paved roads have been destroyed or ruined.

Referring to recent field surveys conducted by the WAF and the UNHCR, it said that landmines were the primary reason for refugees leaving Afghanistan and not returning home. Over two million Afghan refugees remain in Iran and Pakistan.

The continuing civil war, it said had severely affected the economy of Afghanistan. Its Gross Domestic product (GDP) has fallen substantially since 1982 because of the loss of labour and capital and the disruption of trade and transport. The UNDP now rates Afghanistan as 171 out of 173 countries in terms of greatest poverty and least development. According to ICRC statistics, the most dangerous activities to rural populations are tilling fields, herding livestock and foraging for wood and food. Overall national figures on the rate of landmine-related injuries and death are not available, but casualty estimates indicate that landmines and Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) cause an estimated 10 to 12 civilian casualties per day. Recent MSF and ICRC surveys suggest that this figure is too low, since many victims never get to treatment centers because of lack of transportation, significant distances, or impassible roads.

UNOCHA's Mine Action Capacities coordinates efforts and those of international NGOs throughout Afghanistan. The UNOCHA 1997 budget included $18 million for mine awareness, mine clearance, surveys, marking, and training.

[Iran seen as main supplier of land mines to Afghanistan]
[Land-mine victims in Afghanistan]

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