15 December 2014
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Cluster Munition Coalition joins the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) in strongly condemning the 13 December attack on Sterling Demining Afghanistan (SDA), an international demining company and implementing partner of the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan.
Afghan demining team in action. ©MAACA
The attack in Helmand Province left 11 deminers dead, six injured, and three missing. The SDA team was attacked in Nad Ali district while working to clear a high explosive training range formerly used by international military forces.
"The attacks on deminers such as the SDA team are not only horrible for the individual families, but are also putting at risk Afghan communities around the country by threatening life-saving demining activities," said Firoz Alizada, ICBL Campaign Manager. “This most recent attack highlights the urgent need for adequate risk management plans to ensure the safety of deminers. The government should take immediate action to bring the perpetrators of this senseless attack to justice,” he added.
MACCA emphasized that Sterling Demining staff are civilians working to remove explosive hazards.
Afghanistan is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world according to the 2014 Landmine Monitor country profile. However due to the noble efforts of demining teams such as the SDA, Afghanistan continues to report gains in clearing territory affected by antipersonnel mines (an 11% increase from 2013 to 2014). The government of Afghanistan is committed to complete clearance of all antipersonnel landmines from its territories by 2023.
The ICBL-CMC expresses its condolences to the family members of the 11 deminers who were killed and hopes for the swift recovery of the six deminers who have been injured and the safe return of the three missing staff. ICBL expresses solidarity with SDA colleagues, with the Department of Mine Clearance of Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority, the MACCA and the entire mine action community in Afghanistan.