The HALO Trust today announces the completion of demining operations in four more districts of Herat Province, Afghanistan. Ten of Herat’s sixteen districts have now been cleared and handed over as part of a UK Government DFID-funded project to clear all known landmine and UXO contamination in the Province. This has reduced casualties and improved the lives of 375,000 families in some of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
Funded by the UK and managed by DFID Afghanistan, HALO’s work to clear unexploded ordnance and landmines in Herat Province began in 2008. Herat Province was identified as a priority because in 2006/2007 it was one of two provinces with the highest number of mine casualties in Afghanistan. The landmines were laid as a consequence of the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the subsequent civil war in the 1990s.
To date UK funding of HALO in Herat has enabled the clearance of nearly 1,750 mines and 2,500 items of unexploded ordnance from a total area of 91km sq. In addition, HALO has disposed of over 647,000 items of small arms ammunition and 14 aircraft bombs.
Between 1980 and 2007, 1,255 casualties were recorded in Herat, 554 of which were children below the age of 18. HALO’s work has reduced casualties to 10 in 2015. It has also enabled over 133,000 people to return to their homes and cultivate their land once more. In total, 375,000 families have benefited both directly and indirectly from the project.
The HALO UK funded project is due to be completed in March 2018. The project is on target to complete the vital humanitarian clearance of all known contamination in the remaining six districts in Herat.
At a handover ceremony for the Pashtun Zarghun, Kushk, Ghoryan and Farsi districts today, HALO’s Programme Manager, Dr Farid Homayoun said:
The goal of this clearance project was to help some of Afghanistan’s poorest and most vulnerable communities rebuild their lives. It is wonderful to see farmland back in use and people moving freely again, with better access to essential services such as schools and doctors. The next phase of work here is aimed at enabling the development of infrastructure, which will see even greater benefit for the people of Herat.
British Ambassador Karen Pierce CMG added:
I welcome today’s announcement from the HALO Trust about the handover of a further four districts, which are now free from known mine and explosive remnants of war hazards. It’s a great achievement that this land can now be used for agriculture and development projects, including schools and homes. I’m proud that the UK has been able to play an important part in this process through our support of HALO's excellent work.
To find out how the clearance of these districts has transformed the life of a local villager, click here.