Combatting the mines

Afghanistan is one of the countries in the world with most land mines in the ground. Most of them stem from the Soviet invasion in the 1980s.

Today, most countries (including Afghanistan) have signed the Ottawa Convention, which bans all forms of mines designed to wound or kill people. But although many mines have been removed from the Afghan soil, nobody knows how many are left – a conservative estimate is between three and five millions.

Hence, every year thousands of Afghan civilians are killed or mutilated because they step on mines. More than half the victims are children.

Although there are machines that can destroy land mines, most Afghan mines are removed by hand. That is because many mine fields are located on mountainsides and cannot be approached with machines. There is only one way of dealing with the problem, and that is manually.

Underneath, you can read about a mine sweeper who risks his life on a daily basis. You can also read about the NGO Danish Demining Group which has worked with mine clearing in Afghanistan for more than a decade.

In the documentary The Italian Doctor you can meet Alberto Cairo who works for the Red Cross in Kabul. His mission is to help Afghanistan’s many victims of mine explosions to regain their dignity. The film is from 2007 and made by ethnographers Esben Hansen and Jens Kjær Jensen, with support from, among others, Danida.