x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

UAE mine-clearing fund gives Afghans new life

Four thousand homes have been built in Afghanistan after a successful landmine-clearing project financed by the UAE destroyed more than 11,000 of the devastating devices.

Four thousand homes have been built in Afghanistan after a successful landmine-clearing project financed by the UAE destroyed more than 11,000 of the devastating devices.

The two-year, US$25 million (Dh91.8m) Emirates Mine Clearance Project Afghanistan recently ended.

The work was done in Kandahar Province and administered by the United Nations Mine Action Service.

Alan Weakley, chief executive of Sterling Global Operation, the US company that carried out the work, said: “We are proud of our contribution to this important work on behalf of the UAE and the people of Afghanistan.

“Our partnership with the UN and the Government of the UAE contributed to over 38 million square metres of land being returned to productive use by the citizens of Kandahar Province.”

The UN says an estimated 26,000 people in the region live within 500 metres of a minefield. Most of them rely heavily on agriculture for their livelihood.

SGO said that thanks to the UAE funding the area was now safe for commercial, agricultural and residential use.

The clean-up operation employed more than 1,600 Afghans who cleared about 38 million square metres of land. More than 100 communities will benefit.

Technical advisers worked in communities to select, train and supervise Afghans, all of whom then completed a mine-clearing course that allowed them to meet international standards.

Demarcy and Salihan villages, in Panjwayw district, were cleared by the teams, allowing homes for formerly displaced people, a clinic and a school to be built.

The UAE’s funding was divided, with $23m going directly to the mine-clearing programme in Kandahar, and $2m to the UN’s Voluntary Trust Fund for Mine Action.

The UAE is also supporting work carried out by one of the UN’s mine action projects through the trust fund.

“We are delighted and express our heartfelt gratitude and praise for the UAE,” said Abdul Samy, that project’s Kandahar manager.

“They are supporting the people of Afghanistan and playing a critical humanitarian role in saving lives, bringing peace, and developing Afghanistan.”

Afghanistan is not the only country to benefit from the UAE’s help.

Between 2001 and 2004, the country donated Dh183m for demining operations in South Lebanon, SGO said.

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