During a visit to HALO’S Afghanistan HQ today, Britain’s Ambassador Dominic Jermey, signed an agreement providing nearly £7 million in funding that will benefit 100,000 Afghans by clearing mines where they live, work and farm. The project, which secures employment for 416 Afghan staff, will run until March 2020 and includes the provision of mixed-gender response teams who will provide mine risk education and explosive ordinance disposal.
HALO, which has operated in Afghanistan since it was founded there in 1988, will work closely with two partner organisations, Afghanaid and the Danish Committee for Aid to Afghan Refugees (DACAAR). Together they will implement 36 livelihoods projects that will help beneficiaries quickly return cleared land to productive use and accelerate economic activity. Both partners specialise in rural development and provide assistance such as water infrastructure, training for farmers and agricultural supplies to marginalised communities.
Mines will be cleared from over 9.6 million square metres in Logar, Khost, Samangan, Balkh, Baghlan and Kabul provinces. Minefields have been selected because of a combination of humanitarian need, their high populations of vulnerable rural poor and because they are priorities for clearance and development by the Afghan Government. The project has been designed in collaboration with the Government’s Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC) who will be a key partner in the project.
Dr Farid Homayoun, Afghanistan Programme Manager for HALO said:
“This UK support for HALO in Afghanistan is important for the development and stability of the country. It means that rural communities can benefit from the removal of dangerous mines and explosive items allowing them to use their land safely and productively again. This project will improve livelihoods in rural communities and provide employment to hundreds, helping to make Afghanistan more peaceful and stable.”
British Ambassador, Dominic Jermey, CVE OBE, said:
“I’m extremely proud that today we’re launching a programme, with the Afghan Government and the HALO Trust, to clear 9.6 million square metres of land in Afghanistan. This programme is the next phase of the UK’s long-standing commitment to free Afghanistan of the brutality of buried mines and unexploded ordnance.
This project is in addition to the 84 million square metres of land which UK support has already helped clear. I’m delighted that, through this new programme, in six further provinces, we will not just rid the land of the scourge of past conflicts and remove such horrific harm to innocent men, women and children, but our development assistance will ensure that the land is swiftly returned to the local communities. We will benefit over 100 000 Afghans who will once again be able to prosper from cultivation and development of their fields”.
Minister Wais Barmak, State Minister for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, said:
“Ensuring the land of our people is safe from the remnants of war is an absolute priority for the Afghan Government. All Afghan people are extremely heartened to see this ongoing commitment from the United Kingdom to support mine clearance, risk education and development of the cleared land, in our rural communities. The impact it will have, not just in keeping our children free from harm, but also in increasing agricultural production and livelihoods, is enormous”
Landmines have been used extensively in Afghanistan since the eighties by many of the combatants in the country’s conflicts. The HALO Trust is one of a number of humanitarian and commercial demining organisations in Afghanistan.
HALO Afghanistan currently employs 2,400 staff drawn from many provinces to deliver both manual and mechanical demining, battle area clearance, explosive remnants of war disposal, survey, and mine risk education. Over the last 28 years, HALO’s staff have destroyed over 796,834 mines and cleared 114,657 hectares of land in the country. The HALO Trust has served 10,804 communities in 27 districts and 29 provinces.