Sommaire: December 5, 2001: Poul Nielson visits bomb disposal site near Kabul (Brussels)
On the second day of his visit to Afghanistan, Poul Nielson, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, has witnessed bomb disposal operations carried out by ECHO partners north of Kabul.
The Commissioner was briefed by staff of the Halo Trust and the Danish Demining Group, two NGOs, which specialize in the disposal of unexploded ordnance. Their work includes clearing minefields laid in earlier phases of the Afghan crisis, but the current priority is to tackle unexploded bombs from the recent allied air campaign. These lie scattered in fields posing a major threat, particularly to children who are attracted by the yellow casings. In some places, villagers who are unaware of the danger have collected the devices and piled them at the corner of fields. A number of accidents have already been reported.
Mr. Nielson praised the efforts of the demining agencies and of the thousands of Afghan staff who are involved in these operations. He said: "Every day, they are putting themselves at risk to remove this terrible threat to the safety of the population. They deserve our admiration and our support."
The European Commission's most recent humanitarian aid decision for Afghanistan (for €8.5 million) includes a significant component for demining and bomb disposal operations.