12 July 2011

(Geneva, 12 July 2011) The ICBL condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific killing of four deminers from the Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA) in Farah province of Afghanistan and the abduction of another 27 members of DAFA’s staff. In total, 31 members of staff from DAFA, including 20 civilian deminers, were abducted while clearing landmines in Shamalga village of Balabuluk district on Wednesday 6 July 2011 [1] . Four of those abducted were cruelly killed, including one who it is believed was beheaded. Fortunately, the ICBL understands that the remaining 27 have been released [2].

“It is hard to comprehend such shocking brutality,” said Kasia Derlicka, Director of the ICBL.“These deminers had put themselves at daily risk to save vulnerable communities from the devastating effect of these indiscriminate weapons. The ICBL calls on all armed groups to halt attacks, abductions and threats to deminers, and we urge the Afghan government to take every possible measure to avoid further tragedy and bring the murderers to justice,” Derlicka added.

Afghanistan remains one of the most severely mine-affected countries in the world. It also has the largest and most established demining programmes, with more than 10,000 people working for both national and international demining organizations. “It is unthinkable that anyone could harm these humanitarian workers who are only trying to protect the lives and limbs of fellow Afghans,” said Firoz Ali Alizada, ICBL Campaign Manager and a landmine survivor from Afghanistan.

According to Mine Action Coordination Center for Afghanistan (MACCA) in the past 20 years national organizations, alongside international companies and NGOs, have cleared 104 districts and 1,699 communities of mines and other explosive remnants of war. However, 2,056 communities throughout the country remain at risk [3]. The number of landmine and explosive remnants of war survivors in Afghanistan has been estimated to be 52,000–60,000.

The ICBL is very concerned that mine clearance personnel in Afghanistan have been frequent targets of armed violence or abduction since 2006. On 07 June 2011 a deminer from the Mine Dog Detection Center (MDC) was killed in Baraki Barak district of Logar province. In 2010, 10 mine clearance personnel were killed, 23 were injured and another 16 abducted were but later released. In 2009 eight mine clearance personnel were killed and 30 more abducted but later released during the year. In 2008 seven mine clearance personnel were killed and another seven injured. In 2007, at least six deminers were killed and a further 17 were abducted before being released.


[1] Media reported various figures but these figures were confirmed by the DAFA on 12 July 2011 - [2] Media reported various figures but these figures were confirmed by the DAFA on 12 July 2011 - [3] Source: MACCA’s fact sheet March 2011