02 April 2013

On March 18, the Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO) organized a Survivors' Swimming race in Kabul, to mark the 14th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty entry into force. The race was one of several ICBL member Lend your Leg (LYL) global actions for mine awareness and mine action and was the first such event to take place in Afghanistan.

The event sought specifically to promote victim assistance legislation and programming and to draw attention to the ongoing challenges caused by landmines in Afghanistan. Featuring the slogans, ‘We support a Mine Free Afghanistan’ and ‘No More New Landmine Victims,’ the event drew over one hundred participants including survivors, representatives from the National Olympic Committee, the National Paralympics organization, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and parliament, in addition to disability and victim assistance network members, athletes and a range of media.

‘Since the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan became a state party to the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) in 2003 there have been a number of great achievements including the clearance and destruction of millions of mines and the release of land for over two thousand communities. Despite these achievements, however, there are still people and communities suffering from landmines; Afghanistan has about thirty new causalities per month,’ said ALSO Advocacy Coordinator Rahmatullah Merzayee.The President of the Olympic Committee, as well as a Senator and the President of the Paralympic Committee,spoke at the event and expressed their appreciation for ALSO’s efforts in promoting the rights of survivors and working for a mine free Afghanistan. In addition they noted the importance of such sporting events in promoting the social inclusion of survivors and other persons with disabilities. All of the athletes participating in the event were landmine survivors with first and second place finishes going to a double-leg amputee and a double-arm amputee respectively.

During the closing ceremonies, the General President of the Afghanistan National Olympic Committee presented ALSO with an honorary medal for their work.To celebrate the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on April 4, Handicap International and the Mine Action Coordination Center in Afghanistan, together with ALSO will participate in an interactive conference in Kabul which will be broadcast live on national television. Hundreds of people are expected to participate, including government officials, parliamentarians and civil society.

To see more photos from the event, check out the Flickr gallery.

To find out more about Lend Your Leg, visit ICBL's dedicated Lend Your Leg website.