“Millions of mines and unexploded ammunition have been destroyed – with cleared lands handed over to the people for effective use.”
Mohammad Sediq Rashid is Director of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA). He has spent more than 25 years in different posts with United Nations-related organizations helping to rid the country of mines and other explosive remnants of war, protecting communities and opening land for productive use.
Previously known as UN-MACA, MACCA is supported by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS).
Sediq and his dedicated colleagues have performed a vital role in reducing mine-associated casualty rates in almost all regions of the country. Since he began de-mining work in 1989 with the Mine Clearance Planning Agency – an NGO that was primarily funded by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – around 80 per cent of mine-contaminated areas have been cleared.
Mohammad’s story. In his own words.
My name is Mohammad Sediq Rashid. I am Director of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA). I have worked for them since 1989, when they first started mine action activities in Afghanistan.
I actually started my career as a trainer and after training some students, we started our activities with an organization surveying minefields, identifying contaminated localities and mapping and marking areas. This organization worked for 10 years in Afghanistan.
It is worth mentioning that progress has been made: minefields and areas contaminated with unexploded ordnance cleared. This was the result of good leadership and efforts by the UN in Afghanistan.
I am very proud of being an employee of the UN. Since 2000, I have been an employee of the demining organization called UNMAS. Right now I am continuing as a head of MACCA, which is supported by the UN.
In Afghanistan, everyone knows that war has been very intense and long lasting. One of the worst phenomena of the war is the existence of large numbers of landmines and explosive remnants of war. In Afghanistan, fighting has taken place everywhere and left villages, cities, agricultural land and roads contaminated with landmines and unexploded ammunition.
In this country, thousands of villages face the problem of landmines and explosive remnants of war on agricultural land and in water channels and houses. The casualty rate from landmines and explosive remnants of war was so high: even in a single day 25 people were victims, most of them children.
So our work is very important, because if there are mines on agricultural land, nobody can use it. Landmines and explosive remnants of war are not only a threat to the lives of people and their livelihoods, but they are also a big obstacle to development. If there are landmines on a road, nobody can use it or asphalt it. Similarly, electricity development, or other big development projects in Afghanistan need demining as a first step.
Unfortunately the existence of mines and unexploded ammunition has delayed implementation of big development projects in Afghanistan. Demining is vital, therefore, in Afghanistan. If the minefields and other explosive remnants of war are not cleared our people could face a lot of problems.
But thanks to God, progress has been made, with 80 per cent of the minefields and areas contaminated with explosive remnants of war cleared. Millions of mines and a lot of unexploded ammunition have been destroyed, with cleared lands handed over to the people for effective use.
Unfortunately, war has not ended in Afghanistan. It seemed after 2001 that people were hopeful Afghanistan would have peace, security and good government, but unfortunately war intensified and each fight left behind unexploded ammunition and landmines.
Unfortunately, some areas including roads became contaminated once again. Civilian casualties increased due to explosive remnants of war and landmines. The casualty rate was very low and we were optimistic that we would overcome the problem and Afghanistan would be cleared completely of mines and unexploded ordinance.
But we are very concerned and disappointed that we are still cleaning landmines and explosive remnants of war because parties to the conflict contaminated more areas.
I hope one day mines will not be used in Afghanistan and that parties to the conflict know their responsibilities. Mines and explosive remnants of war create a long-lasting problem and inflict civilian casualties.
I hope they come to understand their responsibilities and put an end to the use of landmines, otherwise people will keep on suffering.
We are very happy for the 70th anniversary of the UN and as a citizen of Afghanistan I am grateful to the UN.
Strong UN. Strong Afghanistan.
The UN in Afghanistan celebrates its partnership with Afghans who are making a difference for a strong Afghanistan.