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Tuesday, 18 February, 2003, 15:54 GMT
New project to demine Tajikistan

The Tajik authorities have welcomed new efforts to help them rid their country of an estimated 16,000 landmines and unexploded ordinance.

The European Security Organisation, the OSCE, is preparing a project to de-mine Tajikistan.

Last year alone, 60 Tajiks were reported injured or killed by mines.

The mines are costing lives and having an economic impact.

Tajikistan was the only Asian state to descend into civil war when the former Soviet Union collapsed.

Although the fighting is over, the legacy of those years remains.

Landmines and unexploded ordinance litter the mountains and plains where clashes took place.

There are mines along the Tajik-Afghan border and also along the Tajik-Uzbek border.

Local engineers say they have destroyed over 3,000 mines, but it is a massive task.

Tajikistan is an impoverished country and lacks the funds to buy modern de-mining equipment and to train the necessary experts.

Locating the mines is also a huge problem.

Few maps are available, minefields are poorly marked, if at all, and some have now been moved by mudslides.

Most mine victims are women, children and shepherds, injured or killed while collecting firewood of herding livestock.

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16 Feb 03 | Country profiles
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