Kidnapped Afghan Deminers Should Be Immediately Released

For Immediate Release

Kidnapped Afghan Deminers Should Be Immediately Released

LONDON - The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today condemned the
recent kidnapping of a group of Afghan deminers and called for the
immediate release of the six men still being held captive.

Thirteen men working for the Afghan demining organization MDC (an
ICBL member) - including 11 deminers and two drivers - were abducted by
unidentified forces on 19 August in Gardez province. Seven of them have
been since released, but the fate of the remaining six remains unknown.

"Deminers put their lives at risk every day to ensure the safety of
their communities. Attacking them is a cowardly act and an assault on
the entire civilian population," said Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director
of the ICBL, calling on all armed actors to halt attacks on demining
personnel and to safeguard their life-saving work. The ICBL also called
for the Afghan government to take urgent measures to ensure the
security of deminers and to identify and bring to justice those
responsible.

"Mine clearance is crucial to allow reconstruction, economic
recovery, and build lasting peace. Deminers and their work should be
valued and protected," said Firoz Ali Alizada, ICBL Treaty
Implementation Officer, stressing that attacks on deminers could
seriously endanger the progress of vital clearance operations.

Unfortunately, attacks on deminers are not infrequent in
Afghanistan. In March 2008, in two separate incidents, seven mine
clearance personnel were killed and another seven injured. In 2007, at
least six deminers were killed and a further 17 were kidnapped before
being released.

One of the most severely mine-affected countries, Afghanistan has
the world's largest demining programme, employing some 8,000 national
staff.

For more information on the landmine situation in Afghanistan, which joined the Mine Ban Treaty in 2003, please see the Landmine Monitor Report at

http://www.icbl.org/lm/2007/afghanistan

 

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