Afghan Victims of Land Mines

Afghan Victims of Land MinesAfghan Victims of Land Mines

Decades after the end of the several wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, land mines and explosives still target Afghan refugees heading back to their country from Iran.

The land mines on an average take the lives of two people every 24 hours, Esmaeil Bahmanabadi, deputy of Khorasan Razavi’s Red Crescent Society, told Mehr News Agency.

But the world is not unmindful of the tragedy. Since 2006, the Khorasan Razavi RCS, in collaboration with the Interior Ministry, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Red Cross Committee has been holding training courses for Afghan citizens at the Dogharoun Border, the only repatriation cross border point between Iran and Afghanistan, located 270 km southeast of Mashhad, the capital of Khorasan Razavi Province, to teach them how to avoid the deadly traps.

Gholamreza Sayyadi, head of the provincial Taibad County RCS, said the training has helped in the safe repatriation of over 2.4 million Afghan refugees so far. This year (ends March 19) alone, around 180,000 Afghans were covered under the joint scheme.

All Afghans who leave Iran for Afghanistan from Dogharoun Border take part in the training and are taught about the dangers of land mines and other explosives. Two billion rials ($66,000) is spent each year on this joint project, said Bahmanabadi.

Nearly 12 million land mines were planted during the three decades of war in Afghanistan. With the help of experts, seven million mines have been detected and defused so far.  

 A series of coups in the 1970s followed by the Soviet invasion and a series of civil wars has devastated much of Afghanistan. As a result, huge numbers of Afghans began migrating to neighboring countries mostly Iran, and Pakistan.

Iran has hosted more than 4 million refugees for over three decades. Under a key refugee repatriation agreement signed between the governments of Iran and Afghanistan and the UNHCR in the year 2002 in Geneva, to help Afghan refugees return to their home country, millions of refugees were voluntarily repatriated to Afghanistan. At present, there are nearly one million registered refugees still living in Iran.