Photo: UNMASS Afghanista

Unexploded Ordnance Kills 11 Children in Ghazni and Herat

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – Taliban authorities and local sources reported that landmines and unexploded ordnance have killed at least 11 children and injured five others on March 31.

As reported by the Taliban-controlled Bakhtar News Agency, the Taliban local authorities in Ghazni province said that nine children were killed in Giro district of the province due to the explosion of a landmine.

The news agency quoted Hamidullah Nisar, the Taliban director of information and culture in the province, saying that the incident took place late on Sunday when the children were playing with the unexploded ordnance.

On the same day, in a separate incident, two children between the ages of 10 and 15 lost their lives, while five others sustained injuries in the Rabat-e-Sangi district of Western Herat province, as a result of an ordnance explosion.

Local sources told KabulNow that the incident occurred in Khwaja Talkhtan village while the children were playing with the landmine left from the war. The injured children were subsequently taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

Affected by decades of conflict and violence, especially the Taliban insurgency over the last two decades, Afghanistan remains one of the world’s most contaminated places with remnants of war, mostly landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The United Nations reported last year that nearly 57,000 civilians have either lost their lives or sustained injuries in Afghanistan due to landmines and explosive remnants of war since 1989.

According to UNICEF, approximately 85% of the casualties caused by war-related explosive ordnance in Afghanistan are children. “In 2022, more than 700 children were killed or maimed because of unexploded ordinances and war remnants. An average of two children every day!”

Last year, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) reported that at least 640 children were killed or injured in 541 incidents involving explosive remnants of war and landmine explosions in Afghanistan between January 2022 and June 2023

“Children have been particularly vulnerable to fatal or life-changing injuries as they unintentionally step on landmines or pick up unexploded ordnance littered around the places they stay, play or do household chores.”

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and its subsequent restrictions on women and girls have also caused many donor countries and organizations, including many mine clearance organizations, to cease operations and withdraw funding.

The ICRC has previously highlighted that the insufficient funding has hampered landmine clearance efforts in Afghanistan. “The dramatic drop in resources and funding had an equally dramatic impact on efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance,” ICRC said.

“There is, however, still a desperate need for the international community to provide technical and financial assistance to reduce the number of human casualties caused by unexploded devices,” the organization added.