The Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, has paid tribute to the work of deminers working for The HALO Trust during a visit to one of Afghanistan’s minefields in Marmul district near Mazar-i-Sharif.
During a visit in which he was able to destroy a landmine, Mr Blok said: “Mine action in Afghanistan is very important. Each year there are about 2,000 casualties as a result of mine accidents. The land that has been cleared in this area is being used for agriculture. It is incredible that with the support of Dutch funding, there are people who are clearing the land from mines."
“There is still a lot of work to do to ensure Afghanistan is mine-impact free, but fortunately a large part of Afghanistan has already been cleared”. The Netherlands has been a strong supporter of humanitarian mine action globally, and has been one of HALO Afghanistan’s most committed donors.
The Netherlands has supported HALO Afghanistan since 2003. With this support, HALO has been able to clear 28 million square meters of land and destroy over 21,000 mines, 104,000 items of explosive ordnance, and 52,000 bullets.
HALO has directly assisted more than three million people with funding from the Netherlands.
Humanitarian mine clearance conducted by HALO not only saves lives by preventing future accidents, but also helps vulnerable communities get back on their feet in the aftermath of conflict. The clearance of grazing, residential and agricultural land provides rural communities with land that may otherwise remain unsafe and unproductive. This makes vital contributions to beneficiaries living in mine-impacted communities by reducing poverty, increasing stability and resilience, ensuring improved access to resources and livelihoods, and empowering some of Afghanistan’s most marginalized citizens.