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RTT News, January 20, 2015

2014 Records Worst Death Toll Of De-miners In Afghanistan

The death of 34 de-miners is almost equal to the total number over the previous four years combined

Afghanistan's United Nations-backed de-mining agency says a record number of its personnel were killed or injured in 2014.

The Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) said Monday that 34 of its personnel were killed and 27 others injured in 37 security incidents in the war-torn country last year.

The death of 34 de-miners is almost equal to the total number over the previous four years combined, said MAPA in a news release. "In just two attacks, one on a project near a copper mine in Logar province in June and a second in Helmand province in December, 19 MAPA de-miners were killed and nine were injured," it added. Afghanistan has witnessed widespread and indiscriminate use of mines and munitions over more than 30 years of conflict, making it one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has supported MAPA since 2002. MAPA made it clear that "The clearance of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] where fighting continues is not the responsibility of MAPA and it has never conducted such clearance." "However, when fighting comes to an end and internally displaced people return to their villages and homes to face the danger of explosive hazards left behind, they often and justifiably request their lands to be cleared, the de-mining agency noted." MAPA, which comprises 50 national and international partners, has operated in Afghanistan for the last 26 years. Along with its partners, it has successfully delivered mine action services across Afghanistan including clearance of over 23,000 hazardous areas, resulting in a decline in the number of civilian causalities by almost 80 per cent.

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