Global perspective Human stories

UN estimates some 25,000 unexploded coalition sub-munitions threaten Afghans

UN estimates some 25,000 unexploded coalition sub-munitions threaten Afghans

Forging estimates based on figures provided by the military coalition operating in Afghanistan, a senior United Nations official today said the country faces danger posed by some 25,000 unexploded sub-munitions.

Dan Kelly, Manager of the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan, told reporters in Islamabad that the coalition force had provided information on a total of 103 sub-munition strikes areas, with some 244,420 sub-munitions used in 78 of them. "The initial ground assessments indicates that, at a minimum, 10 per cent of the sub-munitions - that is 24,442 - have failed to explode and are laying on the ground as a very dangerous and deadly UXO [unexploded ordnance]," he said, expressing hope that the coalition would provide further data on remaining sites.

Illustrating the dangers posed by these munitions, Mr. Kelly reported that on Tuesday, two children aged 9 and 10 were killed and two others injured near the Maslakh camp in Herat when a BLU 97 bomblet exploded while they were collecting wood.

In the face of these dangers, the Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan, which employs approximately 5,000 Afghans, is continuing to train staff to rid the country of these deadly weapons. "Training in survey, clearance and awareness of the new sub-munitions and spewed ammunition compounds threat in Afghanistan has been ongoing for the past six weeks in Peshawar, Quetta, Herat and Kabul for approximately 4,400 deminers," said Mr. Kelly. Most of their training had been completed, with more Afghans slated for training starting early next year.