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Afghanistan: Land Mines

Volume 468: debated on Monday 26 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in clearing the land area and area contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance in Afghanistan in accordance with the Afghanistan Compact. (167420)

I have been asked to reply.

Through the Afghanistan Compact and the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) the Government of Afghanistan is committed to

‘reducing the area of land contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) by 70 per cent. by 2010’.

Estimates at the end of May 2007 put total contaminated land in Afghanistan at 778 square kilometres. Despite a shortfall in funding for demining activities during 2006, 133 square kilometres of previously contaminated land was cleared. This exceeded the target set by the mine action programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) of 110 square kilometres of land to be cleared each year in order to meet the Compact benchmark. The Government of Afghanistan is confident in its ability to meet the target it has set for itself.

The Government of Afghanistan was, however, unable to meet its international treaty (Ottawa convention) obligation on the destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel landmines by 1 March 2007. It has subsequently set out in the Afghanistan Compact to

‘destroy all remaining stockpiled anti-personnel mines by the end of 2007’

and is confident that the two remaining stockpiles, located in the Panjshir Province, will be destroyed by this new deadline.