Digging for Mines in Afghanistan

 
 

Every day someone in Afghanistan is affected by a landmine. A disproportionate number of them are children and goat herders. Despite sustained efforts, hundreds of square kilometers of land remains mined. However, the deminers of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) plan to make Afghanistan mine free by 2023.

The MACCA is using a three-pronged strategy to accomplishing its goal: clearing the land, educating locals in the hazards and operations, and incorporating mine education curriculum into the broader education system. These efforts have helped bring mine incidents down from more than 30 per day to a little over 30 per month in 2015.

For those that have been wounded by mines, their healthcare options are limited. However, one hospital, Emergency, continues to provide free healthcare to all who have been wounded or affected by war. An Italian-based nonprofit, Emergency has been operating in Afghanistan since 1999 and receives more trauma and war-related referrals than any other hospital in the country. Emergency continues to provide a high standard of care and offers treatment options to anyone regardless of their political affiliation.

MACCA’s efforts have saved countless lives and Emergency’s efforts to treat those who have been wounded continue to bring hope to an otherwise grim situation.

Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. Deminers with the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan begin their trek into a minefield. An estimated 589 sq km is contaminated with mines.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. A deminer with the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan, UNMACCA, follows a trail that has been cleared so the deminers can walk. The path is about 2 meters wide; either side could be littered with mines.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. A Russian PM-2, anti-personnel. It is unclear who laid this particular mine. However, it is suspected of being a relic of the Soviet-Afghan War.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. A controlled detonation of a landmine causes goats to scatter. Goat herders and children are the most likely to become victims of landmines.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. A goathearder takes his flock into the minefield.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. The Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan, MACCA, provides education at the community level for villagers. The courses education them on what to do if they come in contact with explosives.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Surobi, Afghanistan 2015. A boy in a Mine Risk Education class looks away.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan 2016. Ahmadzia, 8. While walking home from the bazaar Ahmadzia found something shiny on the ground. He and his brother picked it up and threw it around. Ahmadzia decided to smash it. It was a piece of unexploded ordinance. He has lost his right arm, his right eye was destroyed and his body was peppered with shrapnel.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan 2016. Surgeons in Emergency, an Italian-run hospital, prepare a patient for an operation to remove shrapnel from his bowels and chest. According to the staff he was driving with his family when his van rolled over a mine. It is not clear who planted the mine or why. The patient suffered 40 percent burns to his body, mostly on his back, and was not expected to survive.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan 2016. Doctors and nurses in Emergency work to save a patient.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
Digging for Mines in Afghanistan
Kabul, Afghanistan 2016. This year is shaping up to be a new nadir for civilian casualties, according to staff at Emergency. Taliban infighting, the threat of ISIS, and ongoing counterterrorism operations all continue to put civilian lives at risk.
Image Credit: Ivan A. Flores
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