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Xinhua, June 13, 2011

Mines, explosive devices disable some 2,000 Afghans annually

Millions of mines have been planted by various warring sides

By Farid Behbud, Zhang Jianhua

The war-torn Afghanistan is one of the most mine contaminated country in the globe as an estimated of 2,000 Afghans become disabled each year due to mine blasts and related incidents in the country.

"The mine explosion not only severed my legs but also destroyed my life years ago," said Afghan landmine victim Faizullah, 45, who lost both of his legs in a mine blast in Kabul province.

Mine victim Mohammed Agha, 15, blinded in one eye with leg injuries and the loss of his right hand while playing with an unexploded ordinance with his younger brother
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - FEBRUARY 21: Mine victim Mohammed Agha, 15, blinded in one eye with leg injuries and the loss of his right hand while playing with an unexploded ordinance with his younger brother, sits in the children's ward of the Emergency-Surgical Center for War Victims hospital February 21, 2003 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Many Afghan children remain uneducated about the different types of mines and pick them up thinking they are harmless. After two decades of war, Afghanistan is littered with unexploded ordinance (UXO) that will take years to clean up. (Photo: Life)

"I am the head of a 11-member family and my children want me to feed them and support them properly but it is a daunting challenge for a disabled person to fulfill their desire," Faizullah told Xinhua on June 7 while walking with his prosthetic legs at the compound of Orthopedic and Rehabilitation centre of International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghan capital Kabul.

Afghanistan is a conflict-ridden country. Millions of mines have been planted by various warring sides and groups over the past three decades and possibly millions of unexploded ordnances and bobby traps have been left over the past 30 years.

"The hidden enemies -- land mines, booby traps and other explosive ordnance have been left over the past decades. They often target the innocent non-combatants including women and children, and may kill or make them lifetime crippled," the mine victim Faizullah said.

International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) as the main agency supporting mine victims in Afghanistan has been providing prosthetic legs and hands to the disabled people.

"An estimated of 2,000 Afghans become disabled every year who lose their legs or hands in mine or other explosive devices in Afghanistan," Najmuddin Helal, head of Orthopedic and Rehabilitation department of ICRC, Kabul office told Xinhua.

To help the mines' victims, Helal said ICRC has set up seven orthopedic centers across the country.

He said the orthopedic centers are operational in the capital city Kabul and six other cities that include Mazar-e- Sharif, Herat, Jalalabad, Faizabad, Gulbahar and Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Taliban hotbed the southern Helmand province.

All the seven centers have been producing artificial hands and legs, as well as physiotherapy service to mine victims, he said.

To ease the ordeal of the mine victims and provide job opportunities to them, majority of the employees of orthopedic centers are crippled persons.

"Nearly 90 percent of the staff in orthopedic centers is disabled people," Helal said.

"The fact that staff at the orthopedic centers are disabled themselves can have positive impact on the patients, especially the new victims of mines who are generally depressed when they first come for treatment in the centers," Helal said.

"I was playing in front of my house eight month ago in Tagab district, Kapisa province when a mortar fired by warring sides exploded very close to me and caused me to lose one leg," Ejazul Haq, 12, told Xinhua at the orthopedic center in Kabul.

"I really hate mines, war and explosions because they have prevented me from going to school and deprived me of education," the child said helplessly.

According to Helal, some 50,000 out of around 100,000 disabled people in the war-torn Afghanistan are victims of mines.

Category: HR Violations - Views: 7836