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Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Afghanistan to sign mines treaty
Demining operation in Afghanistan
Afghanistan: One of the world's most heavily mined nations

International campaigners have welcomed the announcement by Afghanistan's transitional government that it will sign up to the treaty banning land mines.

A young Afghan boy receives emergency treatment after standing on an anti-personnel mine
An estimated 300 people are killed every month
The president, Hamid Karzai, declared his government's intention to sign at a Kabul conference on the munitions, which kill or maim as many as 300 Afghans a month.

Afghanistan is considered the world's most heavily-mined country.

But now its government will commit itself to destroying its stockpiles, and to never again using anti-personnel mines.

Deadly legacy

All but two of Afghanistan's 29 provinces are littered with the deadly devices, and there is a disproportionately large number of amputees on the streets of cities like Kandahar, Herat and the capital Kabul.

Every Afghan woman, man and child will rest assured that no-one in this country will ever again by targeted by... land mines

Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah
The majority of the mines were laid by Soviet forces and their local allies between 1979 and 1992.

More than 7,000 Afghans are trained as de-miners, and are working to clear 360 square kilometres of high priority areas within 10 years.

They search for the mines by hand, with sniffer dogs, and with heavy equipment.

Afghanistan's foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah gave his assurance that no Afghan will again be targeted by anti-personnel mines

And he called for countries and local factions who have used mines in Afghanistan to assist with their removal.

Stockpiles should go

When asked about local commanders who still hold anti-personnel mines in their arsenal, Dr Abdullah answered that those commanders would have to surrender their mines to the government for disposal, and promised more serious measures if that wasn't done.

Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work with the international campaign to ban land mines described the commitment as "an important step".

Ms Williams, who helped to open the land mines conference in Kabul, said the undertaking to sign the treaty "is a tribute to the new leadership of Afghanistan."

The decision is expected to be ratified in a cabinet meeting on Monday.

The BBC's Adam Brookes reports
"No-one knows how many mines there are in Afghanistan"
Jody Williams, Intnl campaign to ban landmines
"This is the third of the most mined countries in the world to join the treaty, it is very significant"

Progress report on the treaty on landmines to be discussed on global interactive phone-in programme broadcast online on SundayLandmine ban
Has enough been done?
See also:

28 Jul 02 | South Asia
10 Dec 01 | South Asia
04 Jan 02 | South Asia
15 Nov 01 | UK
09 Oct 01 | South Asia
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