Afghanistan

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 21 July 2016

Summary: State Party Afghanistan ratified the convention on 8 September 2011. Draft legislation is being prepared to enforce its implementation of the convention. Afghanistan has participated in all of the convention’s meetings and voted in favor of a UN resolution on the convention in December 2015. It has promoted universalization of the convention and condemned new use of cluster munitions.

In its initial transparency report for the convention provided in 2012, Afghanistan confirmed it has not used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions. The national armed forces do not stockpile cluster munitions, but Afghanistan regularly reports the discovery and destruction of abandoned weapons including cluster munitions.

Policy

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 8 September 2011, and became a State Party on 1 March 2012.

Afghanistan reported in April 2016 that the Ministry of Justice is preparing draft implementation legislation for the convention.[1] Previously, in April 2015, it reported that the Ministry of Justice was considering how to amend existing legislation to enforce the provisions of the convention.[2] A 2012 legislative review advised that existing law should be amended, while a technical committee has provided support to the process of preparing the draft.[3]

Afghanistan submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 30 August 2012 and has provided updated annual reports since, most recently on 25 April 2016.[4]

Afghanistan participated in most meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but despite actively supporting the ban objective it did not endorse the Wellington Declaration that would have committed it to participating fully in the formal negotiations of the convention. It also did not attend the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, not even as an observer.[5] Afghanistan attended the convention’s Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008 as an observer, but unexpectedly signed the convention near the end of the conference after the representative announced that he had received instructions and authorization to do so.[6]

Afghanistan plays a positive and active role in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015. In an address to the high-level segment of the meeting, Afghanistan described the convention as “one of the success stories in disarmament” and affirmed the need to “send out a strong message through this conference against cluster munitions and reaffirm our collective commitments for a world free of cluster munitions in the near future.”[7]

Afghanistan has attended all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015.

On 7 December 2015, Afghanistan voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[8] Afghanistan has proposed that South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member states discuss cluster munitions.[9]

Afghanistan has condemned the use of cluster munitions and voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[10] At the First Review Conference, Afghanistan expressed strong support for draft outcome documents that condemned any cluster munition use by any actor and commented that “States Parties should join hands to end all suffering caused by these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons.”[11]

Afghanistan is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in April 1981, but has not ratified.

Interpretive issues

Afghanistan has not elaborated its views on several important issues relating to interpretation and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but United States (US) Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks in 2011 have outlined US interpretation of the convention as it relates to Afghanistan (see section on Foreign stockpiling). In a December 2008 State Department cable, the US outlined its concern over how Afghanistan would interpret the convention’s prohibition on transit and foreign stockpiling, as well as Article 21 on “interoperability” or joint military operations with states not party to the convention.[12]

Use, production, and transfer

In its initial Article 7 report, Afghanistan declared that it has no “production industry” for manufacturing cluster munitions.[13] In September 2011, Afghanistan stated that it “does not use, produce, or transfer Cluster Munitions in the country.”[14]

The Monitor is not aware of any use of cluster munitions in Afghanistan since 2002. US aircraft dropped 1,228 cluster bombs containing 248,056 submunitions in 232 strikes on locations throughout the country between October 2001 and early 2002.[15] Soviet forces also used air-dropped and rocket-delivered cluster munitions during their invasion and occupation of Afghanistan from 1979–1989, while a non-state armed group used rocket-delivered cluster munitions during the civil war in the 1990s.[16]

Stockpiling and destruction

In September 2013, Afghanistan informed States Parties that it “destroyed all its cluster munitions stocks before” the convention entered into force and therefore complies with its obligations under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[17] In October 2013, it stated that concerning cluster munitions, “Afghanistan is pleased to have destroyed all weaponry of this kind within its military stockpile.”[18]

Afghanistan “has not officially announced” the completion of its stockpiled cluster munitions, but reports that “the Ministry of Defence verbally confirms that there is not any stockpile of cluster munitions left with Afghan National Forces.”[19] This would appear to indicate that there are not any stocks under the jurisdiction and control of national forces, but additional stocks abandoned in the past by the government may continue to be discovered.

Afghanistan’s Article 7 reports have contained information under stockpile destruction indicating significant destruction during 2005–2011 and further destruction in 2012–2015.[20] In April 2016, Afghanistan reported that HALO Trust weapons and ammunition destruction teams destroyed 165 “cluster munitions” during 2015 under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence.[21] Given the government’s statements that there are no longer any stocks, these destroyed items were likely cluster munitions abandoned by other combatants in the past (and recently discovered) and/or cluster munition remnants destroyed in mine action and clearance operations. These are all considered cluster munition remnants under the Convention on Cluster Munitions and not stockpiled cluster munitions.

In 2008, Jane’s Information Group listed Afghanistan as possessing KMG-U dispensers and RBK-250-275 cluster bombs.[22] Standard international reference sources have listed Afghanistan as possessing Grad 122mm and Uragan 220mm surface-to-surface rockets, but it is not known if these included versions with submunition payloads.[23]

Foreign stockpiling

According to a December 2008 State Department cable released by Wikileaks, “The United States currently has a very small stockpile of cluster munitions in Afghanistan.”[24] In February 2011, an Afghan human rights group called on the US government and NATO to reveal if it they had stockpiled or used cluster munitions in Afghanistan since the 2002 conflict.[25]



[3] A joint technical committee is working to prepare draft implementing legislation for both the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions and includes the government’s Department of Mine Clearance, Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan (MACCA), the Mine Dog Center, Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO), and the ICRC. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, 13 September 2012. See also Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 30 August 2012.

[4] Afghanistan’s initial Article 7 report covered calendar year 2011, while the 19 May 2013 covered calendar year 2012, the 27 April 2014 update was for calendar year 2013, the 28 April 2015 update covered calendar year 2014, and the 25 April 2016 update covered calendar year 2015.

[5] For details on Afghanistan’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 27–28.

[6] Two United States (US) Department of State cables subsequently made public by Wikileaks have shown how US officials had sought assurances from the highest levels of the Afghan government that Afghanistan would not join the convention; however, during the Oslo Signing Conference President Karzai decided that Afghanistan should sign the convention. “Afghan views on cluster munitions and Oslo process,” US Department of State cable 08KABUL346 dated 12 February 2008, released by Wikileaks on 20 May 2011.

[7] Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 9 September 2015.

[8]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[9] Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 3 September 2014.

[10]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 69/189, 18 December 2014.

[11] Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 9 September 2015.

[12] According to the cable, the US has interpreted the convention as allowing “U.S. forces to store, transfer, and use U.S. cluster munitions in the territory of a State Party.” The cable states that “the United States reads the phrase ‘military cooperation and operations’ in Article 21 to include all preparations for future military operations, transit of cluster munitions through the territory of a State Party, and storage and use of cluster munitions on the territory of a State Party.” “Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010.

[14] Statement by Dr. Zia Nezam, Senior Advisor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 14 September 2011.

[15] Human Rights Watch (HRW), “Fatally Flawed: Cluster Bombs and their Use by the United States in Afghanistan,” Vol. 14, No. 7 (G), December 2002.

[16] CMC Fact Sheet prepared by (HRW), “Cluster Munitions in the Asia-Pacific Region,” October 2008.

[17] Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013. In April 2014, Afghanistan again stated that it destroyed all stockpiles of cluster munitions before the convention entered into force and no longer has a stockpile. Statement of Afghanistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[18] Statement of Afghanistan, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 14 October 2013.

[20] Afghanistan’s initial Article 7 report detailed the destruction between 2005 and 2011 of over 402,000 submunitions of various types. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 August 2012. The subsequent Article 7 reports detail the destruction of 761 additional munitions and submunitions discovered in 2012 and 2013 and also provide an updated accounting of the various submunitions destroyed between 2005 and 2011, listing five types of munitions not included in the initial report. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, 27 April 2014; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 19 May 2013.

[21] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, para. 3 (a), 25 April 2016. Note that Afghanistan stated in its 2015 Article 7 Report that 187 “cluster munitions” were destroyed in 2014. See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, Part II, para. 3 (c), 28 April 2015.

[22] Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[23] Ibid.; and International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2005–2006 (London: Routledge, 2005), p. 233.

[24]Demarche to Afghanistan on cluster munitions,” US Department of State cable 08STATE134777 dated 29 December 2008, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010.

[25] Afghanistan Rights Monitor, “Annual Report: Civilian Casualties of War, January–December 2010,” p. 15.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 23 September 2019

Policy

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 11 September 2002, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2003.

In September 2018, Afghanistan signed into law a regulation on the “prohibition of production, importation, transportation, export, preservation, using, and destruction of anti-personnel mines.”[1] The regulation is published as Annex no. 1 of the Law on Firearms, Ammunitions, and Explosive Materials. Previously, the draft resolution had been prepared in 2013.[2]

Afghanistan submitted its annual Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report covering the calendar year in 2018.

In December 2017, Afghanistan was elected as President for the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties. During its presidency, Afghanistan pledged to actively promote the convention with States in Central and South Asia that had not yet joined.[3]

Over the past decade, Afghanistan has participated in every Meeting of States Parties. Afghanistan has also participated in all intersessional meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty, except in May 2016. It also attended the Mine Ban Treaty’s First Review Conference in Nairobi in 2004 and its Second Review Conference in Cartagena in 2009, however its delegation to the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014 was denied a transit visa en-route.

On 15 December 2018, Afghanistan voted in favor of United Nations General Assembly Resolution 73/61, the annual resolution promoting the universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.[4]

Use

Use of victim-activated improvised mines and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by anti-government armed groups continued in 2018 and 2019, resulting in further casualties.

Non-state armed groups

Use of victim-activated improvised mines continued in 2018 and 2019. This use has been attributed by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) to anti-government armed groups, primarily the Taliban and Daesh/Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP). In May 2019, Afghanistan informed States Parties that new use of pressure-plate improvised mines, was causing approximately 65 deaths a month., and that the scale of new contamination remains unknown.[5]

UNAMA continued to document pressure-plate improvised mines in the southern region where anti-government armed groups continued to use such devices to hold territory. At least 205 civilian casualties were recorded from pressure-plate improvised mines, more than half of which occurred in the southern region.[6] However, not all pressure-plate improvised mines can be detonated by a human being. An investigation into pressure-plate mine incidents in 2017 by the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) determined that roughly three-quarters of pressure plate-improvised mines were antipersonnel, and that a quarter were antivehicle.[7]

In 2018, UNAMA reported that use of pressure-plate IEDs, while ongoing, had decreased. UNAMA documented a 26% reduction in civilian casualties attributed to pressure-plate improvised mines when compared to the same period in 2017, causing 753 civilian casualties (269 deaths and 484 injured).[8] UNAMA shares the view of Mine Ban Treaty States Parties that victim-activated IEDs function as antipersonnel mines and are prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty, while command-detonated IEDs are not banned.[9] In July 2018, UNAMA reported that it had engaged in extensive advocacy efforts with anti-government elements on civilian casualties caused by pressure-plate improvised mines for some years.[10]

In September 2019, the Taliban stated to the Monitor that it only used command detonated mines and not mines banned under the Ottawa Convention, and requested the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) use its influence to get other groups to halt mine use in Afghanistan.[11] Previously, in October 2012, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan website, denied the use of victim-activated explosive devices and said it uses only command-detonated explosive devices.[12] In a written response to the UNAMA report on civilian casualties, the Taliban that its IEDs will only be used against military targets and further noted it had created a Department for Prevention of Civilian Casualties.[13] As in previous years, the Taliban have claimed responsibility for an extensive number of attacks against military personnel and vehicles using IEDs.[14]

At least 5 deminers were reported killed in May 2018.[15]

Disturbingly, UNAMA has reported that children continue to be recruited by anti-government groups to emplace IEDs and transport explosives. It is not known if these IEDs are victim-activated improvised landmines from available information.[16]

Production, transfer, stockpile destruction, and discoveries

Afghanistan is not known to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Throughout many years of armed conflict, large numbers of landmines from numerous sources were sent to various forces fighting in Afghanistan. In recent years, there were no confirmed reports of outside supply of antipersonnel mines to anti-government groups.

Afghanistan reported that it completed its stockpile destruction obligation in October 2007, eight months after its treaty-mandated deadline of 1 March 2007.[17] It reported the destruction of 525,504 stockpiled antipersonnel mines between 2003 and 2007.[18] It is unclear how many stockpiled mines Afghanistan had destroyed at the time it declared completion of the program. It reported that it had destroyed 486,226 stockpiled antipersonnel mines as of April 2007, and later reported that it destroyed 81,595 antipersonnel mines in calendar year 2007.[19]

Previously, there were regular reports of Afghan security forces seizing caches of landmines during military operations or surrendered to the authorities. Afghanistan reported that a total of 221 antipersonnel mines were discovered and destroyed during calendar year 2018 from stocks recovered during military operations, surrendered during disarmament programs, and discovered by civilians.[20] Since Afghanistan’s stockpile destruction deadline, it has reported discovery and destruction of 84,739 antipersonnel mines in previously unknown stockpiles.[21]

Mines retained for training and development

Afghanistan does not retain any live mines for training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques. It has reported that “mine bodies used in these programmes have had their fuzes removed and destroyed and are no longer capable of being used.”[22] In June 2011, the chief of operations of the Mine Action Coordination Center of Afghanistan (MACCA) confirmed to the Monitor that Afghanistan does not retain any live mines for training mine detection dogs or other purposes.[23]



[1] Annex no. 1 of the Law on Firearms, Ammunition and Explosive Materials, 5 September 2018. Previously, Afghanistan reported that the Ministry of Defense instructed all military forces “to respect the comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines and the prohibition on use in any situation by militaries or individuals.” Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form A. In April 2016, Afghanistan wrote that, “Afghanistan has [a] long time back drafted a law as an instrument for the implementation of Article 9 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and Convention on Cluster Munitions. This will supplement an existing law banning the use, acquisition, trading and stockpiling of weapons, ammunition and explosive items without the required legal license. This new law relates specifically to the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and Ottawa Treaty. The Ministry of Justice has already reviewed this draft and advised that it should be made available as an annex to the existing law than processing it as a new law. This is still in the ministry of justice. H.E. The President is aware of it through DMAC and has promised to put pressure on the Ministry of Justice to take it in the review plan of 1395 (April 2016–March 2017).” Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2016.

[3] Statement by Suraya Dalil, Permanent Representative of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to the United Nations in Geneva, Vienna, 21 December 2016.

[5] Statement of Afghanistan, Session on Clearance, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 22 May 2019.

[7] Email to the Monitor from Abdul Qudos Ziaee, UNOPS, Kabul, 13 June 2018. The analysis assumed that for incidents involving improvised mines with a pressure plate that produced more than two casualties as likely antivehicle improvised mines, and incidents with one to two casualties as likely antipersonnel improvised mines.

[11] Monitor meeting with Taliban representatives, Doha, Qatar, 7 September 2019.

[12] “We clearly want to state that our Mujahideen never place live landmines in any part of the country but each mine is controlled by a remote and detonated on military targets only.” “Reaction of Islamic Emirate regarding accusations of UNAMA about explosive devices,” 22 October 2012.

[15]Afghan official: Taliban kill 5 workers clearing land mines,” Associate Press News (Kabul), 21 May 2018.

[17] In April 2007, Afghanistan informed States Parties that while it had destroyed 486,226 stockpiled antipersonnel mines, two depots of antipersonnel mines still remained in Panjsheer province, about 150 kilometers north of Kabul. Provincial authorities did not make the mines available for destruction in a timely fashion. For details on the destruction program and reasons for not meeting the deadline, see, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 89–90; and Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 79–80.

[18] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2013), Form G. How many stockpiled mines Afghanistan had destroyed at the time it declared completion of the program lacked clarity. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2009, pp. 99–100.

[19] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2007), Form G, 13 May 2008.

[20] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), Form B states that 221 antipersonnel mines manufactured in China, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia were seized or recovered during 2018.

[21] The type and number of mines destroyed in each location as well as the dates of destruction have been recorded in detail. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), Form G.

[22] Reported in Afghanistan’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, each year since 2012.

[23] Email from MACCA, 4 June 2011; and an interview with MACCA, in Geneva, 24 June 2010.


Mine Action

Last updated: 23 September 2019

20-Year Summary

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s demining program is the world’s largest and oldest. The UN Mine Action Centre for Afghanistan was established in 1989 by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA). A Department of Mine Clearance with a coordination function over the Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan[1] was created in 1990 and in 1995 became the Department for Mine Action Coordination (DMAC), a department of the Afghan national Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA).[2]

In 2006–2007 the program underwent extensive operational reform and restructuring to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of the UN’s implementing partners, as well as to reflect the threat to mine clearance from growing insurgency. Since its establishment, DMAC claims to have cleared nearly 77% of known “legacy” contamination from the pre-2001 conflicts.[3] However the ongoing conflict continues to add to the contamination.

Afghanistan’s Article 5 clearance obligations have been significantly increased by improvised mines, which have also contributed to a sharp upturn in casualties in recent years. Afghanistan now identifies them as the greatest challenge for the mine action sector.[4]

 

Treaty status

Mine Ban Treaty

  • State Party: 1 March 2003
  • First Article 5 deadline: 1 March 2013
  • Extension Request March 2012—10 years until 1 March 2023

Not on track to meet deadline.[5]

Other Conventions

  • Convention on Cluster Munitions
  • Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on Landmines and Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War

Mine action management

Humanitarian Mine Action commenced

1989

National mine action management actors

The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA), led by DMAC, a department of the Afghan National Disaster Management Authority, since 1995.

Transition to national ownership was completed in 2018.

UN agencies

UNOCHA, from 1989–2001

United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), from 2001. Currently provides technical support and funding through the Voluntary Trust Fund.

Mine action legislation

2005 Law on Firearms, Ammunitions and Explosive Materials 2019 annex on landmines and cluster munitions

Mine action strategic and operational plans

  • Mine Action Strategic Plan 2016–2020[6]
  • MAPA Annual Operation Work Plan 1398 (2019)
  • Mine Ban Treaty Work Plan April 2013–March 2023

Mine action standards

Afghanistan Mine Action Standards (AMAS)

In March 2019 adopted a standard for clearance of improvised mines.

Current operators

National:

  • Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC) (since 1990)
  • Demining Agency for Afghanistan (DAFA) (since 1990, originally as the South-West Agency for Demining)
  • Mine Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA) (since 1990)
  • Mine Detection Centre (MDC) (since 1989)
  • The Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation (OMAR) (since 1990)
  • AREA (since 2016)

International:

  • Danish Demining Group (DDG) (since 1999)
  • The HALO Trust (since 1988)
  • The Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) (since 2001)
  • Janus Global Operations

Extent of contamination

Landmines

As of December 2018: 210.24km² (121.63km² CHA and 88.61km² SHA)[7]

This includes 177.8km² contaminated by antipersonnel mines and 32.43km² contaminated by AIM.[8]

Extent of contamination: Massive

Other contamination

As of December 2018:[9]

  • Antivehicle mines: 319.62km²
  • ERW: 156.50km²
  • Other identified initial hazardous areas (IHA): 465.59km² (AIM 228.26km²; antipersonnel mines 5.57km²; antivehicle 4,763km²; ERW 183.94km²)
  • Firing range area: 630km²

New landmine contamination

New victim-activated improvised mine contamination, extent unknown

Total contamination estimate (including mines and ERW)

Estimate as of December 2018: 1,763km²[10]

Land release 2014–2018

Landmines

For antipersonnel mines, abandoned improvised mines and antivehicle mines:[11] (including land cleared, reduced and cancelled)

  • 2014: 62.59km² (total cleared: 22.28km²)
  • 2015: 43.31km² (total cleared: 13.44km²)
  • 2016: 53.24km² (total cleared: 27.12km²)
  • 2017: 44.20km² (total cleared: 28.12km²)
  • 2018: 50.86km² (total cleared: 30.04km²)
  • Total land released: 254.20km²
  • Total land cleared: 121km²
  • Antipersonnel mines destroyed: 57,051
    • Antivehicle mines destroyed: 1,955
    • ERW destroyed: 193,717
    • AIM destroyed: 41

20-year total (1999–2018)[12]

Total land release estimate

  • Land with antipersonnel mine contamination: 591.90km²
  • Land with antivehicle mine contamination: 320.41km²
  • Land with abandoned improvised mine contamination: 9km²
  • Land with ERW contamination 745.09km²
  • Firing ranges: 548.18km²
  • Total land released: 2,214.58 km²
  • Antipersonnel mines destroyed: 318, 865
  • Antivehicle mines destroyed: 12,131
  • ERW destroyed: 6,959,406
  • Abandoned improvised mines destroyed: 756

Progress and 2023 target

Landmines

  • Mine clearance has been severely hampered by a lack of funding since 2012 and by ongoing insecurity.
  • Afghanistan’s Article 5 obligations need to be re-assessed to take account of the extensive contamination by improvised mines.
  • Continued insecurity has prevented access to some of the contaminated areas in recent years.

The targets for clearance in the Article 5 extension request:[13]

  • Land contaminated by antipersonnel mines: 189.8km²
  • Land contaminated by antivehicle mines: 297.1km²
  • Land contaminated by ERW: 26.9km²
  • Total: 513.8km²

Afghanistan reports that minefields with improvised mines are being surveyed as SHA or CHA and once entered into Information Management System for Mine action (IMSMA) are included within their Article 5 workplan.[14]

Note: ERW = explosive remnants of war; CHA = confirmed hazardous areas; SHA = suspected hazardous areas; AIM = abandoned improvised mines; IHA = initial hazardous areas.

Contamination and Impact

Afghanistan is one of the countries most affected by mines and ERW as a result of almost four decades of armed conflict, including the war of resistance following the Soviet invasion of 1979, internal armed conflicts between 1992 and 2001, and the United States-led coalition intervention in 2001. Ongoing conflict between the government, the Taliban and other armed groups is continuing to add to the contamination, particularly by improvised mines, which have overtaken legacy mined areas as the biggest humanitarian threat.[15]

Afghanistan is also one of the poorest countries in the world and the Afghan government remains heavily aid dependent. The Afghan economy is largely founded on agriculture and rural trade; around 85% of the population is entirely reliant on income from agriculture and livestock. The cultivation of opium remains significant. Afghanistan has some natural resources, and international investment in mineral extraction has begun. Economic development is heavily dependent on access to land that is safe from insecurity and from ERW including landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO).[16]

Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 Compliance

Afghanistan became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty on 1 March 2003. However, continued insecurity, fluctuating funding, and the density of mine/ERW contamination led to Afghanistan requesting a 10-year Article 5 deadline extension until 2023.[17] The request was prepared collaboratively, involving governmental, non-governmental, and UN agencies, and submitted in 2012. The request provided yearly clearance targets and a budget of US$618.6 million.[18] However, the extension request targets have not been met due to a drop in donor funding, which fell by more than half between 2011 and 2014, and by new, extensive contamination by improvised mines, expanding the extent of Afghanistan’s Article 5 obligations. DMAC reports that since 2013, some improvements in procedures and processes of land release have resulted in a considerable decrease in cost per square kilometer for almost all types of contamination.[19]

Mine Action Program

Management

UNMAS took over from OCHA in 2001, and since 2012 the MAPA has transitioned to national ownership, which was completed in 2018. UNMAS now provides technical support and funding.[20]

Strategic planning

Afghanistan’s five-year plan for 2016–2020 was adopted in January 2016 but did not amend the extension request clearance targets.[21] It sets out four strategic goals: facilitating development; integrating mine action into other sectors including health, education, and economy; reducing the impact of mines and ERW and mitigating the impact of mine incidents; and mainstreaming gender and diversity. The plan acknowledged that continued use of improvised mines could prevent Afghanistan from meeting its Article 5 clearance deadline.[22]

Legislation and standards

In September 2018 the regulation on the prohibition of production, importation, transportation, export, preservation, use, and destruction of antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions was published as annex 1 of the 2005 Law on Firearms, Ammunitions and Explosive Materials.[23]

An “Abandoned Improvised Mine (AIM) technical working group” was set up in November 2017 to draft terminology and a policy for tackling improvised mines.[24] In March 2019 Afghanistan became the first country to adopt a national standard for the clearance of improvised mines.[25]

Information management

IMSMA was introduced in Afghanistan in 2004 and the entire dataset was migrated from the original database system.[26] The IMSMA database at DMC is currently operating an IMSMA NG Version 6 database but has started preparations for an upgrade to IMSMA Core.

National and global goals

Afghanistan’s 2016–2020 plan included incorporating mine action into Afghanistan’s National Priority Programs and Sustainable Development Goals. The plan also aims to support the mainstreaming of mine action across other sectors including education, health, agriculture and rural rehabilitation, social protection, governance, infrastructure, security, and the private sector.[27]

Gender and diversity

The 2016–2020 plan also sets out the commitments to mainstreaming gender across the mine action program as one of the four goals of the plan. This included developing a gender and diversity policy; increasing the employment of women, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups; and to budget for gender-based activities.[28] The first all-women mine clearance team was established in 2018.[29]

Land Release

Survey

Afghanistan has conducted several surveys during the course of its mine action program in the attempt to better quantify the scale of contamination. A National Survey project was conducted in 1993,[30] followed by a general survey process from 1994–2002 to keep survey data updated. The Afghanistan Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) was conducted from 2003–2004 and identified 2,571 affected communities and a total contaminated area of 716km², of which 445.6km² (62.3% of the total) contained antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines, or a mixture of the two.[31] However, the LIS and all following re-survey efforts have not been able to cover the full extent of country contamination due to ongoing conflict, insecurity and a lack of access to certain areas.[32]

Planning and priority setting

Afghanistan employs a hazard ranking system to help prioritize clearance, called the Ottawa Ranking System. It assigns a rank of one to six for each hazard, with one designating the highest priority. This includes recent victims, blocking of vital infrastructure (agricultural land or a residential area).

Improvised mines

Afghanistan has to reassess its Article 5 obligations to take account of extensive contamination by improvised mines. DMAC reports that improvised mines are now being surveyed as SHA or CHA and when entered into IMSMA they are included as part of the Article 5 workplan.[33] The extent of this new contamination has yet to be determined by survey, but preliminary estimates in 17 of 22 affected provinces identified 152 hazards covering 228km2. Moreover, mitigating the threat is obstructed by insecurity which renders some areas inaccessible to deminers, and even where there is access, clearance teams will be limited to tackling only the hazardous areas where they have the consent of all relevant parties.

Deminer safety

Security and ongoing conflict in Afghanistan have affected clearance operations, slowing down and sometimes halting the progress of mine clearance.[34] In 2018, six deminers were killed and 18 injured as a result of security incidents.[35]



[1] A collective term for all the agencies involved in mine action in Afghanistan. Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 Extension Request, August 2012, p. 5.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, August 2012, p. 5.

[3] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), p. 1.

[4] Ibid., Background, p. 1.

[5] The Mine Action Review: Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants, 2019 notes that a shortfall in donor funding and deteriorating security will ensure that the deadline will not be achieved for mines. NPA, “The Mine Action Review: Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants,” 1 August 2019, p. 14

[6] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Quodos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Qriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[7] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), p. 6.

[8] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Quodos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Qriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[9] Figures provided by Abdul Quodos Ziaee, DMAC, 29 August 2019 from DMAC MIS Benchmark Table, December 2018. The figures from the Article 7 report are slightly different, as follows: antivehicle mines 303.94km²; ERW 149.74km²; other identified SHA 464.75km². Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), p. 6.

[10] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), p. 6. This includes 1,137km² post-2001 contamination and 626km² pre-2001 contamination. The pre-2001 contamination includes 575km² CHA and SHA and 51km² still requiring survey. The post-2001 contamination includes 630km² firing ranges, 412km² areas requiring survey, and 95km² of CHA and SHA.

[11] Figures from Landmine Monitor reporting 2015–2018; 2018 figure from Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), p. 11; and email from Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[12] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Qudos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[13] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, August 2012, p. 187. In an earlier extension request (29 March 2012) different figures were provided for each category of contamination. The explanation provided for this is that the total for the mixed antipersonnel and antivehicle contaminated areas were moved into the antivehicle estimate as operationally they would require the same clearance approach as areas with only antivehicle mines. The total sum of areas to be cleared remains the same.

[14] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Qudos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[15] See, for example, reports that armed opposition groups mined the highway linking Kabul and Ghazni during fighting in August 2018. “Intense fighting as Taliban presses to take Afghan city,” Reuters, 12 August 2018.

[16] DMAC, National Mine Action Strategic Plan, 1395–1399 (2016–2020), State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, undated but 2016, p. 9.

[18] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, August 2012, p. 10.

[19] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Qudos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[20] NPA, “Mine Action Review: Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2019,” 1 August 2019, p. 14.

[21] National Mine Action Strategic Plan, 1395–1399 (2016–2020), State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, undated but 2016, pp. 2–7.

[22] Ibid., p. 22.

[23] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), Form A, p. 3.

[24] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Qudos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil, DMAC, 18 April 2018; DMAC, “Policy on Abandoned Improvised Mines Demining in Afghanistan,” May 2018, pp. 2–4; and interview with Patrick Fruchet, Head of Office, UNMAS Kabul, in Geneva, 8 June 2018.

[25] NPA, “Mine Action Review: Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2019,” 1 August 2019, p. 15.

[26] Justyna Pieralik, April 2013, “Afghanistan’s Landmine Removal Extension Request,” in Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction, vol. 17, issue 1.

[27] National Mine Action Strategic Plan, 1395–1399 (2016–2020), State Ministry for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs, undated but 2016, pp. 3–4.

[28] Ibid., p. 6.

[29] NPA, “Mine Action Review: Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2019,” 1 August 2019, p.14.

[30] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 Extension Request, August 2012, p. 19.

[31] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 Extension Request, August 2012, pp. 21–22.

[32] Ibid., p. 23.

[33] Email from Mohammad Shafiq Yosufi, Abdul Qudos Ziaee, and Mohammad Akbar Oriakhil, DMAC, 29 August 2019.

[34] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, August 2012, p. 7.

[35] NPA, “Mine Action Review: Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2019,” 1 August 2019, p. 15.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 18 December 2019

In 2018, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan received nearly US$72 million from 15 donors, an increase of 70% compared to 2017 (almost $30 million more).[1]

The United Kingdom (UK) provided the largest contribution with $20.8 million to clearance and risk education activities, which represents 30% of the total international mine action assistance in Afghanistan for 2018.

Of the total contribution, nearly three-quarters ($51.6 million or 72%) went toward clearance and risk education activities, 8% ($5.8 million) was for victim assistance, and the remainder ($14.3 million or 20%) went to capacity-building other mine action activities that were not disaggregated

Funding to victim assistance more than doubled in 2018 (from $2.8 million in 2017 to $5.8 million in 2018). This is largely the result of higher contributions within the context of emergency/post-conflict operations. In 2018, victim assistance came from five donors: Germany ($4.1 million), Japan ($0.7 million), Italy ($0.6 million), the European Union (EU) ($0.2 million), and Norway ($0.2 million).

The Mine Action Programme of Afghanistan (MAPA) is largely funded through international assistance, although in the past, the government of Afghanistan has reported contributing to some specific projects. For instance, in 2015, the government of Afghanistan contributed $1.5 million for clearance operations in Logar province, while in 2013, Afghanistan contributed $2.6 million for clearance of the Aynak copper mine.[2] No information on any national contribution was available for 2018, 2017, 2016, or 2014.

International contributions: 2018[3]

Donor

Sector

Amount (national currency)

Amount (US$)

UK

Clearance and risk education

£15,578,603

20,817,687

United States (US)

Clearance and risk education

$20,000,000

20,000,000

Germany

Clearance and victim assistance

€7,000,000

8,271,900

Netherlands

Various

€5,101,413

6,028,340

OCHA

Various

$4,755,852

4,755,852

Japan

Various

¥379,700,045

3,439,312

Canada

Various

C$3,000,000

2,508,991

Sweden

Various

SEK15,295,000

1,759,158

Norway

Clearance, risk education and victim assistance

NOK11,366,000

1,397,723

Denmark

Clearance and risk education

DKK8,000,000

1,267,206

Italy

Victim assistance

€500,000

590,850

Ireland

Clearance and risk education

€300,000

354,510

Australia

Clearance

AU$410,000

306,721

EU

Victim assistance

€203,243

240,172

Slovenia

Capacity-building

€29,536

34,903

Total

   

71,773,325

 

Since 2014, Afghanistan has received more than $260 million in international assistance for mine action. Between 2010–2014, a downward trend had been apparent with a continuous decline in international assistance that dropped from $102 million in 2010 to less than $50 million in 2014.

Summary of contributions: 2014–2018[4]

Year

Amount (US$)

% change from previous year ($)

2018

71,773,325

+70

2017

42,320,790

-26

2016

57,257,467

+11

2015

51,689,045

+18

2014

43,973,822

-34

Total

267,014,449

 

 



[1] Australia, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, February 2019; Canada, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2019; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, April 2019. Response to Monitor questionnaire by Natascha Hassan Johns, Head of Section, Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1 October 2019; response to Monitor questionnaire by Frank Meeussen, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Arms Export Control, European External Action Service, 30 September 2019; Germany, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 4 April 2019; Ireland, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Annex, 2 April 2019; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, April 2019; Italy, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, March 2019; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, April 2019; ITF Enhancing Human Security, “Annual Report 2018,” March 2019, p. 23; Japan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2019; Netherlands, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, April 2019; Norway, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Annex, 30 April 2019; Sweden, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 25 April 2019; UNMAS, “Annual Report 2017,” March 2018, pp. 22–23; UK, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2019; US Department of State, “To walk the earth in safety 2019,” 3 April 2019.

[2] MACCA, “MAPA Annual Report 1394,” September 2016, pp. 40–41; and MACCA, “Fast Facts: Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan,” December 2013.

[3] Average exchange rate for 2018: A$1=US$0.7481; C$1.1957=US$1; DKK6.3131 =US$1; €1=US$1.1817; ¥110.4=US$1; NOK8.1318=US$1; £1=US$1.3363; SEK8.6945=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2019.

[4] See previous Monitor reports. The total for international support in 2017 has been rectified as a result of revised US funding totals.


Casulaties

Last updated: 11 October 2018

 

Casualties[1]

All known casualties (between 1978 and 2017)

30,980 mine/unexploded remnants of war (ERW) casualties: 7,456 killed and 23,524 injured

Casualties in 2017

Annual total

2,300

Increase from
1,985 in 2016[2]

Survival outcome

797 killed; 1,503 injured

Device type causing casualties

62 antipersonnel mine; 21 antivehicle mine; 1,093 improvised mine; 1,124 ERW

Civilian status

2,297 civilians; 3 deminers

Age and gender

1,030 adults:
160 women; 870 men

1,270 children:
1,082 boys; 188 girls

 

The mine ERW casualty total for 2017 for the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is based on Monitor analysis of data provided by the Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC). There has been a trend of increasing mine/ERW casualties in Afghanistan since 2013. In 2017, the increase was attributable to an increase in ERW casualties. Casualties caused by antipersonnel mines,antivehicle mines, and improvised mines decreased in 2017. Mine/ERW and improvised explosive device (IED) casualty data in Afghanistan is updated regularly and therefore discrepancies often occur in the total numbers of recorded casualties between update periods.

In 2017, the majority of mine/ERW casualties, 55%, were children (1,124 of 2,039 were the age was known). This represents a continuing increase in annual child casualties both in total numbers and as a proportion of the total compared to 2016 (42%, or 841 casualties) and 2015 (36%, or 577 casualties).

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has reported that improvised mines constructed aspressure-plate IEDs (PP-IEDs),“function as victim-activated devices, triggered by any person stepping on them—including children—or any vehicle driving over them.” These improvised mines, therefore, likely fit the Mine Ban Treaty definition of antipersonnel mines.[3] In 2018, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) replaced the term PP-IED with Abandoned Improvised Mine (AIM) in its data.[4] The term PP-IED continued to be used by UNAMA.[5] The number of PP-IED casualties recorded by DMAC decreased slightly to 1,093 in 2017 from the 1,185 recorded for 2016.[6] The annual number of improvised landmine casualties reported with disaggregated data by UNMAS and/or UNAMA for the years 2012–2017was far higher than those identified in the years prior to 2011: 2017 (1,041), 2016 (1,195), 2015 (1,101), 2014 (809),[7] 2013 (567), and 2012 (987).[8]

For 2017, UNAMA reported 1,019 PP-IED casualties.[9] Civilian casualties from improvised mines accounted for more than half of the 1,856 (624 killed; 1,232 injured) civilian casualties from IEDs reported by UNAMA for 2017 in its annual report. UNAMA uses a strict and exacting methodology for verification of civilian casualties, and acknowledges that this, together with limitations in the operating environment, creates the possibility of under-reporting. UNAMA describes its methodology and limitations on its data as follows: “For verification of each incident involving a civilian casualty, UNAMA requires at least three different and independent types of sources, i.e. victim, witness, medical practitioner, local authorities, confirmation by party to the conflict, community leader or other sources…Where UNAMA is not satisfied with information concerning an incident, it will not consider it as verified. Unverified incidents are not included in this report…UNAMA does not claim that the statistics presented in this report are complete and acknowledges possible under-reporting of civilian casualties given limitations inherent in the operating environment.”[10] Since 2015, UNAMA has reported a continued decrease in civilian deaths and injuries from command-detonated IEDs,[11] which are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.

Both DMAC of the government of Afghanistan (previously, MACCA) and UNAMA have expressed concerns about civilian casualties from ERW associated with the closure of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) bases and high-explosive firing ranges. Many of the ranges were not sufficiently cleared of ERW prior to closure.[12] Casualties from bases and ranges were recorded as follows: two in 2009, nine in 2010, 15 in 2011, 49 in 2012, 53 in 2013, 34 in 2014, eight in 2015, 22 in 2016, and 10 in 2017.[13]

Cluster munition casualties

Since 1980, 756 casualties of cluster munition remnants have been recorded. In addition, at least 26 casualties during cluster munition strikes have been recorded.[14] DMAC/MACCA data included 249 unexploded submunition casualties since 1981.[15] No unexploded submunition casualties were reported in 2016 and 2017; four were reported in 2015.



[1] Casualty data for 2017 is based on emails from Habib Khan Zazai, Head, Victim Assistance Department, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in support of Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC), 4 April and 21 June 2018.

[2] In 2018, DMAC revised the total of mine/ERW casualties for 2016 to 1,985 from the 1,943 reported in the Monitor in 2017. Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 4 April 2018.

[3] UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2016,” February 2017, pp. 7, 52, 56.

[4] Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 21 June 2018.

[5] UNAMA reported different figures for mine/ERW casualties and PP-IED (improvised mines) casualties in its annual Protection of Civilians report. UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2017,” February 20017, pp. 16–17, 31–32.

[6] In 2018, revised DMAC data put the number of improvised mine casualties for 2016 as 1,195 from the 1,180 previously reported in 2017.

[7] UNMAS reports 654 improvised mine casualties for 2014. Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 17 June 2017.

[8] Data analysis conducted by the Monitor.

[9] UNAMA uses a strict and exacting methodology for verification of civilian casualties and acknowledges that this, together with limitations in the operating environment, creates the possibility of under-reporting. UNAMA describes its methodology and limitations on its data as follows: “For verification of each incident involving a civilian casualty, UNAMA requires at least three different and independent types of sources, i.e. victim, witness, medical practitioner, local authorities, confirmation by party to the conflict, community leader or other sources…Where UNAMA is not satisfied with information concerning an incident, it will not consider it as verified. Unverified incidents are not included in this report…UNAMA does not claim that the statistics presented in this report are complete and acknowledges possible under-reporting of civilian casualties given limitations inherent in the operating environment.” See, UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2016,” February 2017, pp. 1–2.

[10] See, UNAMA “Protection of Civilians Annual Report 2016,” February 2017, pp. 1–2.

[11] Including remote-controlled, non-suicide vehicle-borne, and magnetic IEDs.

[12] UNAMA, “Protection of Civilians 2014 Mid-Year Report,” July 2014.

[13] Email from Habib Khan Zazai, UNMAS, 7 May 2017, and 4 April 2018.

[14] HI, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities (Brussels: HI, May 2007), p. 95. The ICRC recorded 707 casualties occurring during cluster munition use between 1980 and 31 December 2006, to which 47 casualties from 2007 to the end of 2015 recorded by MACCA were added. Due to under-reporting, it is likely that the numbers of casualties during use, as well as those caused by unexploded submunitions, were significantly higher.

[15] Casualty data provided by MACCA, 2 May 2016; and by UNMAS, 5 April 2017.


Victim Assistance

Last updated: 30 October 2017

Summary action points based on findings

  • Expand access to physical rehabilitation needs, particularly in provinces lacking services or where traveling to receive rehabilitation is difficult for survivors.
  • Develop, adopt, and implement a national disability plan that includes objectives that respond to the needs of survivors and recognizes its victim assistance obligations and commitments, together with a monitoring structure.
  • Ensure that meaningful participation of survivors is increased at all levels.
  • Prioritize physical accessibility, particularly for services and for government buildings.
  • Provide psychosocial and psychological support, including peer support in particular to new survivors as well as those who have been traumatized and live in isolation.

Victim assistance commitments

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is responsible for significant numbers of survivors and victims of landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). Afghanistan has made commitments to provide victim assistance through the Mine Ban Treaty and has victim assistance obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Afghanistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) on 18 September 2012.

Victim Assistance

The total number of survivors in Afghanistan is unknown, but in 2006 the number was estimated to be 52,000–60,000.[1]

Victim assistance since 2015

Despite improvements, geographic coverage of healthcare remained insufficient, particularly in terms of physical rehabilitation. Physical rehabilitation services were almost entirely operated by international NGOs and the ICRC under the coordination of the government. The government of Afghanistan was preparing for taking on the responsibility of managing physical rehabilitation services, starting within the local healthcare services level and providing for rehabilitation from the development budget.[2] The ICRC increased its support to medical care, physical rehabilitation, and social reintegration consistently throughout the period, while international NGOs continued to provide the remainder of physical rehabilitation services.[3]

Movement restrictions (due to conflict, lack of accessible roads, and the cost of transport) were persistent obstacles to victim assistance in some parts of the country, which continued through the reporting period.

Handicap International (HI) and the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) had to hand over physiotherapy services in health facilities according to a Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) policy requirement that physiotherapy services should be provided only as part of the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) through district hospitals and health clinics by end of 2015.[4]

Funding challenges continued to impede progress. In 2013, there was an overall decline in the number of projects being implemented and some organizations were unable to fulfill their planned projects and overall mandates due to a decrease in international financial support. Although resources were greatly reduced, there were still some donors who sustained their support for persons with disabilities in ways that included survivors. The Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) increased financial support to victim assistance and disability-related projects by registering national and international NGOs, which could then receive specific project funding. By 2017, the MACCA was renamed the Directorate of Mine Action Coordination (DMAC).

Afghanistan reported that, while there was tangible progress on the ground, the scale of victim assistance services was inadequate compared to the need.[5] Funding decreased and many NGOs providing victim assistance and other services for persons with disabilities faced critical financial shortages. Due to the shortage of financial resources some provincial branches of NGOs ceased their victim assistance activities.[6]

Victim assistance in 2016 (or Afghan year 1395)

Since 2014, funding had decreased significantly. As a result, many organizations that provide disability assistance were nearing the point of facing closure, such as the Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (ALSO), Community Center for Disabled People (CCD), Development and Ability Organization (DAO), and others. Yet the government did not have any plan to provide direct victim assistance, even as the number of survivors was increasing. The lack of funding had a significant negative impact on the probable survival of local NGOs and consequently, on the lives of survivors. The local organizations that had predominately provided service for survivors or persons with disabilities declined although there was not yet a state-led program to serve persons with disabilities that would replace that assistance. Local NGOs reported occasionally being granted small projects, but were unable to compete with the large international NGOs for more sustainable funding. Although the number of survivors continued to increase, disability was not among the priorities of most of donors.[7]

Afghanistan reported that victim assistance, as one of the main pillars of mine action, focused on advocacy, awareness, and prevention activities within the broader context of the disability sector as required by the Mine Ban Treaty.[8] It also stated that the victim assistance sector faced a “critical funding shortfall.” In this context, Afghanistan explained that disability rights and victim assistance agencies “received the least amount of financial support from the international community” and that the limited financial support “endangers” existing capacities and the potential for implementation.[9] Due to the decline in funding, only one prioritized victim assistance project received funding through the mine action center in 2016. The UNMAS/DMAC Victim Assistance Department did not have adequate funding to directly implement projects, but rather maintained a list of prioritized projects to which funds could be allocated.[10] Of the seven projects identified for implementation by UNMAS/DMAC in 2017, only the project for establishing physical rehabilitation centers in Khost and Farah provinces was funded. Six out of nine physical rehabilitation centres supported through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund—including four mobile orthopaedic workshops—faced insecure funding situations.[11]

In 2016, 90% of the population lived more than 100 kilometers from a rehabilitation center and some 20 provinces out of 34 do not have prostheses and orthoses facilities.[12] A lack of female health service providers remained a challenge in rural areas.[13]

Assessing the needs

No specific needs assessment surveys of survivors’ needs were reported in 2016, though many organizations kept their own records on beneficiaries’ needs.

In 2016, a disability survey consultant conducted an in-country assessment, stakeholder meetings, and completed the preliminary work to develop the implementation plan for the nationwide disability survey.[14] However, in accordance with instructions from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), in March 2017 the National Disability Survey of Afghanistan (NDSA) was put on hold. The survey was subsequently removed from the scope of the US-funded Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III).[15] The last national disability survey was carried out in 2005.[16]

A program evaluation by SCA among community-based rehabilitation (CBR) participants confirmed the high proportion of war and mine/ERW survivors among men with disabilities compared to other groups of persons with disabilities. Persons born with impairments had the same gender breakdown, while disease caused a higher proportion of disability among females.[17]

HI conducted small-scale surveys on needs, capacities, issues, and challenges in project sites (small areas) in order to understand the situations faced by mine/ERW survivors and persons with disabilities. A Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices (KAP) survey conducted by HI community mobilizers among 600 community members in Kandahar.[18]

The Afghans Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO) conducted a study and assessment titled Access of Persons with Disabilities to Education in Afghanistan in 2017. Findings of the study were shared with victim assistance and disability organizations in a conference conducted in Kabul and findings were published for wider distribution.[19]

Victim assistance coordination[20]

Government coordinating body/focal point

The Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and the Disabled (MoLSAMD), the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), and the Ministry of Education (MoE) with UNMAS/DMAC Victim Assistance Department technical support; as well as the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA)

Coordinating mechanisms

Victim Assistance Coordination Meetings, the Disability Stakeholder Coordination Group (DSCG); the Disability and Physical Rehabilitation Taskforce, and several other groups (see below)

Plan

None: The Afghanistan National Disability Action Plan (ANDAP) revision process was pending the adoption of a new disability policy

 

MoLSAMD is the government focal point for victim assistance and regulating the legislation of disability issues overall.[21] A new Deputy Minister for MoLSAMD was appointed, as the victim assistance focal point in 2015.[22] In 2016, an institutional capacity assessment and action plan was developed for MoLSAMD, by an international consultant supported by UNMAS, and shared with the ministry for implementation purposes.[23] Other national and international stakeholders support the government in developing or amending legislation. The MoPH, the MoE, and MoLSAMD are involved in disability services and advocacy activities. The work of these three key ministries is supported by the Victim Assistance Department of UNMAS/DMAC, which works closely with three ministries and which provides technical support to each for annual planning, priority setting, contract development, and quality assurance for UNMAS-funded activities.[24]

The Victim Assistance Department of DMAC/UNMAS supported a capacity-building need assessment for MoLSAMD that began in the first quarter of 2017. A desk-based assessment with the three key ministries found that there was a lack of reliable data and data collection process in the ministries. Based on the assessment, work with Martyrs and Disability Deputy Ministry of MoLSAMD to develop a new database started in March 2017 and 15 ministry personnel were trained on the database, which was planned to be officially launched later in 2017. New beneficiary data collection forms were also designed.[25]

From the beginning of 2016 through the end of the second quarter of 2017, three additional victim assistance/disability organizations were accredited by DMAC/UNMAS and received certification to conduct activities.[26]

The MoPH plan of action consists of the Basic Package of Health Services (BPHS) and the Essential Package of Hospital Services (EPHS); physiotherapy services are included in both, while prosthetic services were only included in the EPHS. The MoPH Strategic Framework 2011–2015 counted improving disability services among its priorities, and the ministry’s focal point for disability, the Disability and Physical Rehabilitation Department (DRD), had an implementation strategy for the framework. The MoPH included disability and physical rehabilitation in a new national health policy originally developed for 2015–2020. The national disability and physical rehabilitation strategic plan for the health sector 2016–2020 was drafted and in the approval stages.[27]

No progress was reported on the process of developing a national plan for persons with disabilities. The National Disability Action Plan remained unrevised since it expired in 2011. A new plan was not to be drafted until the finalization of a comprehensive national disability policy. The Afghanistan National Policy for Persons with Disabilities was in its third draft in 2016 and had been made available in local languages for wider consultation and feedback.[28]

The Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) adopted a five-year (2016–2021) strategic plan in 2015 addressing the so-called pillars of mine action. A sub-goal of the plan focuses on victim assistance, and related advocacy. Advocacy efforts are undertaken to ensure that disability and victim assistance are addressed in relevant government strategies, policies, and in departmental budgets.[29]

An action plan for implementation of the newly developed Inclusive and Child Friendly Education Policy, making the National Education Strategic Plan III (NESP III 2016–2020) was significantly more inclusive of victim assistance and disability rights than the previous two plans. With these changes, inclusive education was comprehensively addressed in the third strategic plan.[30] A number of policies in Afghanistan referred to services for persons with disabilities, and although relevant to mine/ERW survivors do not necessarily specifically mention victim assistance. Other than the former Inclusive Education Policy of the MoE, among these was the Health and Nutrition Strategy of the MoPH.[31]

In 2017, ACAP III (April 2015–February 2018), was being implemented by UNMAS to provide “immediate assistance packages including food and non-food items, psychosocial counseling, physical rehabilitation support and economic reintegration packages tailored to individual needs to restore lost livelihoods and assist with recovery.” Activities were anticipated to continue until 2018.[32]

ACAP III is a USAID-funded program through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action intended to provide targeted immediate assistance to victims of conflict, mines, and ERW; strengthen existing services; and contribute to the development of government authorities’ capabilities to provide assistance to civilian victims of conflict in Afghanistan. Long-term services are also provided in communities most affected by conflict. Other ACAP III objectives are to link beneficiaries with assistance programs and to improve knowledge of victim assistance services among communities, civil society, and government networks.[33] ACAP III marked a change from the first two ACAP programs, which provided humanitarian assistance only for assistance-eligible incidents to “innocent civilian casualties who have suffered losses resulting from operations between U.S. and coalition military forces and the Taliban or other insurgents.”[34]

Coordination and planning

The coordination group for victim assistance with the participation of key bi-monthly national and international victim assistance and disability organizations and representatives of the line ministries, including the MoPH, MoLSAMD, and the MoE (established by MACCA in 2013), held five meetings in 2016, as it had in 2015; discussion at these meetings focused on ACAP III, assistance to civilian victims of conflict, and mine/ERW and IED civilian victims specifically, as an added value of the victim assistance pillar of the mine action.[35] In 2017, through the end of July, three victim assistance coordination meetings were held to discuss issues of national ownership and the roles of ministries, coordination of activities, and funding raising.[36]

Several other coordination groups regularly held meetings relevant to victim assistance and disability rights, both nationally (from Kabul) and at the regional level. The various coordination group meetings included the following:

  • The Disability Stakeholders Coordination Group (DSCG) (Chaired by the deputy minter of MoLSAMD) conducted 10 meetings in 2016, compared to nine in 2015, with topics including the amending disability law, CRPD reporting, consideration of an independent directorate for disability issues, disability employment within government agencies, and annual events. Another three DSCG meetings through June 2017 focused on amendments to the national disability law.
  • The Disability and Physical Rehabilitation Taskforce (coordinated by the MoPH) held six working group meetings in 2016, compared to five in 2015, an accomplishment being the revision and continued updating of a new disability and physical rehabilitation strategy, disability certification guidelines, and training of physiotherapists and prosthetic technicians. In April 2017, the Physical Rehabilitation Taskforce meeting addressed the annual action plan for Afghan year 1396 (2017–2018).
  • The Advocacy Committee for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (ACPD) includes advocacy meetings and events on a wide range of issues held by diverse actors from the sector. In April 2017, ALSO hosted an ACPD meeting where committee members jointly finalized the committee’s three-year (2017–2020) strategic action and 2017 action plan. Three ACPD meetings were held in 2017 through June, with the focus on nationwide disability survey planning.
  • The Afghan CBR Network (coordinated by the MoPH-DRD) conducted three meetings in 2016, compared to two meetings in 2015, and discussed implementation of the CBR program carried out in 20 out of 34 provinces of Afghanistan.
  • The Inclusive Child Friendly Education-Coordination Working Group (ICFE-CWG); chaired by the MoE held 10 meetings in 2016, 11 meetings in 2015, and 10 in 2014, and discussed implementation of the Inclusive Education policy and other relevant issues.
  • The Inter-ministerial Committee on Disability; chaired by MoLSAMD also holds occasional meetings.[37] More generally national and regional meetings of the UNCHR-led Afghanistan Protection Cluster (APC) were conducted to avoid duplication and coordinate activities concerning protection of the civilians.

In October 2016, the MoLSAMD, with the support of Counterpart International and USAID, held a two-day national conference, the National Conference for Persons with Disabilities, in Kabul with 450 participants, including the representative of Executive of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the first lady, ministers and deputy ministers, representatives of the national and international institutions, and key stakeholders from provinces, including representation by persons with disabilities. The government affirmed its commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities, specifically capacity-building and vocational training. Problems and challenges, as well as probable future obstacles, were discussed.[38] In cooperation with MoLSAMD, the ACAP III technical advisor provided substantive support to MoLSAMD for the 2016 National Disability Conference.[39]

In follow-up to the National Conference for Persons with Disabilities in Afghanistan, in May 2017 a conference entitled the Afghan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming was held at the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington, DC, with 150 participants joining panel discussions and sharing of ideas. Mine/ERW survivors were mentioned together with other persons with disabilities and a mine survivor and persons with disabilities participated on panels.[40]

Reporting

Afghanistan provided information on progress in and challenges to victim assistance at the Mine Ban Treaty Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties in Chile and intersessional meetings in 2016. Afghanistan presented victim assistance developments at the Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties in September 2016.[41] Afghanistan continued to make extensive use of all sections of its Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 report for 2016. Afghanistan also included detailed reporting on victim assistance activities in its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reporting for 2016.[42]

Survivor inclusion and participation

Persons with disabilities and their representative organizations were included in decision-making and participated in the various coordination bodies. However, it was reported that their views were not fully taken into account. Survivors and other victims were involved in short-term decisions only, being invited to meetings was seen as a means of pacification.[43] It was reported that survivors involved in planning and coordination presented ideas and had expectations that they would be considered, but the implementing organizations, government, and donors were not able to respond to all the needs survivors presented.[44] With only a few organizations involved in implementation of victim assistance projects, survivors were not adequately included in service provision.[45]

The inclusion of persons with disabilities, survivors—and their representative organizations, if and where they existed—remained totally insufficient. Participation was generally not effectively included as an essential component of activities.[46]

Some NGOs had a proportion of employees who were persons with disabilities. The ICRC Afghan Physical Rehabilitation Program was managed by persons with disabilities. The rehabilitation program maintained a policy of “positive discrimination,” employing and training only persons with disabilities. Service provision was entirely managed by survivors and persons with disabilities, including technical and administrative positions. The ICRC continuously consulted with and involved survivors in the decision-making process as survivors were fully integrated into its operations. The positive discrimination policy also aimed to demonstrate that persons with disabilities are an asset to society, not a burden.[47] HI staff in Afghanistan included 14% of persons with disabilities.[48] At HI rehabilitation centers 19% physical rehabilitation center staff are persons with disabilities, most of them being mine survivors.

Service accessibility and effectiveness

Victim assistance activities

Name of organization

Type of organization

Type of activity

MoLSAMD

Government

Technical support, training, and coordination; providing pensions and allowances, organizing of service for survivors with disabilities and families of persons killed

MoPH

Emergency and continuing medical care, medication, surgery, awareness-raising, counseling (supported by the World Bank, UN, and donors), physical rehabilitation and psychosocial support

MoE

Inclusive education and assistance through education

Afghan Amputee Bicyclists for Rehabilitation and Recreation (AABRAR)

National NGO

Physiotherapy, education, and vocational training; sport and recreation; capacity-building for local civil society organizations (CSOs) and disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs)

Afghan Landmine Survivors Organization (ALSO)

Advocacy workshops and implementing services through local partners; referral of students to education centers from basic to advanced level; research and promoting access to education

Community Center for Disabled People (CCD)

Social and economic inclusion and advocacy; art training for war survivors and job placement

Development and Ability Organization (DAO)

Social inclusion, advocacy, rehabilitation, and income-generating projects

Kabul Orthopedic Organization (KOO)

Physical rehabilitation and vocational training

Rehabilitee Organization for Afghan War Victims (ROAWV)

Economic inclusion training and awareness raising

Empor Organization (EO)

For profit organization

Physical rehabilitation and prosthetics; technical support for advanced technology limbs for ACAP III beneficiaries

Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

National organization

Awareness-raising and rights advocacy program for DPOs; monitoring

EMERGENCY

International NGO

Operating surgical centers in Kabul, the Panjshir Valley, and Lashkar-gah and a network of first aid posts and health centers

Handicap International (HI)

Victim assistance, disability advocacy and awareness, capacity-building of disabled persons’ and survivors’ organizations; physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics, rehabilitation training

Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA-RAD)

Health care, CBR, physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support, economic inclusion through revolving loans, inclusive education, advocacy, and capacity-building

ICRC

International organization

Emergency medical care; physical rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, prosthetics, and other mobility devices; economic inclusion and social reintegration, including education, vocational training, micro-finance, and employment for persons with disabilities, including mine/ERW survivors and Ministry of Defense/military casualties; schools for orthopedic technicians and physiotherapists; sport and support to the Paralympic Committee

 

Emergency and continuing medical care

The health sector in Afghanistan was not reaching as many people as needed services and a more inclusive policy and implementation was required. Difficulty with human resources as well as conflict within the national government made the delivery of inclusive public health and affected all Afghans difficult, especially persons with disabilities.[49]

Conflict in Afghanistan resulted in the need for an increase in medical care, while there were fewer resources available. As was the case in recent years, many of the weapon-wounded patients treated at ICRC-supported hospitals were injured by mines or ERW: 679 out of 1,850 (or 37%) in 2016, and 1,065 of the 2,202 (or 48%) reported for 2015.[50] In 2016, more than 1,500 weapon-wounded people reached the hospitals by means of an ICRC-funded transport system of taxis and ICRC vehicles.[51] In 2015, some 2,100 weapon-wounded people reached the hospitals through the system, 1,600 people in 2014, and 1,000 in 2013.[52]

The number of newly registered amputees recorded in the ICRC orthopedic center data demonstrated that the number of survivors and amputees remained constant since 2013:

  • 2014: 1,318 amputees registered, including 538 mine survivors, 51 other war incidents, and 729 persons amputated for other reasons;
  • 2015: 1,261 amputees registered, including 521 mine survivors, 47 other war incidents, and 693 persons amputated for other reasons;
  • 2016: 1,317 amputees registered, including 525 mine survivors, 44 other war incidents, and 748 persons amputated for other reasons; and
  • January–June 2017: 560 amputees registered, including 238 mine survivors, 26 other war incidents, and 296 persons amputated for other reasons.[53]

During 2016 and through July 2017, ACAP III provided some 11,400 war victims with immediate assistance packages of food and non-food items.[54]

Physical rehabilitation, including prosthetics

Physical rehabilitation was not available in all provinces of Afghanistan.Rehabilitation centers were concentrated in 16 of the 34 Afghan provinces and patients were often forced to travel long distances to access services. Six rehabilitation centers faced funding shortages in 2016–2017.[55] DAO reported that the provision of physical rehabilitation was “tremendously reduced” in both its physical rehabilitation centers in Kunar and Uruzgan province due to a severe funding problem. As a result, persons with disabilities in these provinces remained without prosthetic limbs in 2016–2017.[56] Previously, in 2015–2016, DAO had managed to increase coverage and the number of people served by establishing a new fixed and mobile physical rehabilitation center for persons with disabilities, covering all districts of Uruzgan, and nearby districts from Zabul and Daikondi provinces.[57]

A lack of female health service providers especially in the field of physical rehabilitation was a challenge in rural areas, which resulted in women and girls with disabilities having less access to services.[58]

Through ACAP III an additional seven rehabilitation facilities (three static centers and four mobile centers) were established in Khost, Uruzgan, Faryab, Kunduz, Kabul, and Farah provinces. In 2016, UNMAS/DMAC established physical rehabilitation centers in Khost and Farah provinces. The project, implemented by AABRAR, started in September 2016 and was completed by the end of April 2017. The Khost and Farah centers delivered 176 prostheses among the 2,416 direct beneficiaries receiving rehabilitation services. Additionally, disability awareness and advocacy training was provided to 2,917 people at the centers.

Physiotherapists in Afghanistan are mostly employed by NGOs and international organizations. The goal for long-term sustainability of rehabilitation is to gradually shift services into government institutions, as the medical sector is improved and is able to take over the provision of rehabilitation services.[59]

Delivery of prostheses in the seven ICRC centers in 2016 totaled 4,321, 59% (or 2,553) of which were for mine/ERW survivors;[60] in 2015, 4,120 (2,474 of which were for mine/ERW survivors).[61] In the first six months of 2017, 2,072 prostheses were manufactured, 1,227 of them for mine/ERW survivors. Over several years to 2017, the ICRC program has been facing a worrying increase in the number of children affected by cerebral palsy (CP) or who are spinal cord injured (paraplegics and tetraplegics) as these two categories of disability were totally neglected by the health system. New units had to be created, training organized, and qualified staff increased. ICRC requests for an intervention of the MoPH, through its DRD, were not responded to and governmental hospitals were not providing assistance.[62]

In support of the national and local authorities HI began a project to harmonize training curricula for local physiotherapist and orthopedic technicians, opened training centers in seven provinces (in Kandahar, Herat, Nangarhar, Balkh, Takhar, Kapisa, and Kabul), and increased the capacity of the existing rehabilitation facilities. The EU-funded project, Toward Improved Access to Quality Physical Rehabilitation in Afghanistan (TIQRA), launched in December 2015, supports the government of Afghanistan to improve the of delivery of public health services with a special focus on contributing to the expansion of and improved access to quality physical rehabilitation in underserved areas. A consortium of three partners: HI (as lead organization), Norwegian Afghanistan Committee (NAC), and Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) were implementing the project.[63]

In Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, the planning for the construction of a new ICRC orthopedic center was in progress in 2017. The center was designed to provide Helmand with a permanent and well-equipped rehabilitation center to replace the existing functional but temporary facility.[64] State plans for 2017–2018 included establishing three physical rehabilitation centers in Khost, Farah, and Kunar provinces respectively, funded by Canada through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund.[65] The MoPH maintained a priority list of provinces for future expansion of rehabilitation and prosthetic services under the Essential Package of Hospital Services (EPHS). It was planned to have nine physical rehabilitation centers placed under the supervision of the MoPH over a period of 10 years.[66]

The ICRC reported that, as acknowledged by the MoPH authorities, it would be unrealistic to consider the government capable of ensuring the required rehabilitation services itself. It is anticipated that it will take years before the national authorities have the capacity to fully manage the long-term functioning of services.[67]

ACAP III provided home-based physiotherapy to civilian victims of conflict in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan. Physiotherapists also provided referrals to local facilities and travel assistance. In 2017, ACAP III was providing a limited number of amputees with high-tech electric upper limbs for the first time in Afghanistan, with technical support for UNMAS from the EMPOR Organization.[68]

Social and economic inclusion and psychological support

A lack of dedicated resources severely inhibited capacities to provide employment for persons with disabilities, including mine/ERW survivors.[69] The ICRC secured employment for persons with disabilities[70] and supported vocational training.[71] The ICRC also provided micro-credits for persons with disabilities and their families, distributed stationery kits to students, and supported home tuition for children.[72] From September 2015 through June 2016, the CCD implemented a project to support the war victims in Kunduz province.[73]

The ACAP III project supported 4,300 eligible war victims, including mine/ERW-affected victims, with tools based on their economic reintegration needs.[74]

A lack of psychosocial support, particularly peer support, has remained one of the largest gaps in the government-coordinated victim assistance and disability programs, although some national and international NGOs provided these services. Psychosocial counseling services were provided to civilian conflict victims nationwide through ACAP III.[75] During 2016 through July 2017, a total of 12,500 eligible war victims received psychological support and counseling through ACAP III.[76]

Overall there were very limited opportunities for sports for persons with disabilities throughout the country. The ICRC offered persons with disabilities social inclusion opportunities and also continued to promote a wide range of sporting activities.[77] The Afghanistan men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball national teams were sponsored to travel abroad to compete in international tournaments.[78]

In 2016, UNMAS could not financially support inclusive education training due to lack of funding. Other stakeholders, including SERVE, SCA, and AAR Japan, continued to provide financial and technical support for inclusive education training of MoE school teachers and enrolment of children with disabilities in general schools (at least 1,600 beneficiaries from 2016 through July 2017).[79] Through August 2017, UMMAS/DMAC only had enough resources available for its victim assistance department to provide technical support for inclusive education activities of the MoE. UNMAS/DMAC continued to seek funding to support inclusive education directly as had been the case until 2014.[80] ALSO held a conference on the results of its study on education needs in 2017. The main objective was to promote access of persons with disabilities to primary, secondary, and higher education.[81]

Gender

Many NGOs, both national and international, provided assistance to women with disabilities in major provinces. However, women with disabilities in remote provinces and districts required more support. The Mine Action Program of Afghanistan (MAPA) Gender Mainstreaming Strategy 2014–2016, including victim assistance, was addressed through coordination and gender mainstreaming officers in NGOs.[82] The Gender Mainstreaming Strategy 2014–2016 stated, “Existing discrimination and bias sometimes mean that women can be hard to reach when implementing surveys and as a result, this means that their priorities–frequently the priorities of their children and of basic community survival–can be excluded. In areas such as victim assistance…gender determines the access to and impact of activities and services, where females often face more restrictions compared to males.”[83] In mid-2016, a gender consultant completed in-country assessment of gender considerations in ACAP III and measures to improve gender awareness in MoLSAMD services.[84]

After it expired, the Gender Mainstreaming Strategy 2014–2016 was replaced with a UNMAS/DMAC gender and diversity policy; as well as being represented in the fourth goal (on gender) of the National Mine Action Strategic Plan. A new Gender Associate with UNMAS/DMAC was recruited in March 2017 to coordinate gender issues, including victim assistance and disability contexts.[85]

Services for women and also for children were not sufficient to reach those in need or to cover all disabled women or children in the country.[86]

Laws and policies

The Law on the Rights and Benefits of Person with Disabilities and the Law on the Rights and Benefits for Relatives of Martyrs and Disappeared Persons remained the key legislative provisions. The Law on the Rights and Benefits of Persons with Disabilities was amended[87] in March 2013. However, the law contained discriminatory provisions and was not in conformity with the principles of the CRPD. In 2015, a working committee for amending the disability law was established.[88] By the end of 2016, Afghanistan stated that “the complete amendment of the Law on the Rights and Benefits of Persons with Disabilities has been initiated to comply with the international human rights obligations, as well as to address problems on its practical implementation.”[89] The process of amending the legislation was completed by May 2017 and the draft submitted to Ministry of Justice. The revised law was subsequently returned to MoLSAMD to be sent to Ministry of Justice for approval and publication in official gazette as “The Law of Persons with Disabilities.” The law was pending approval by the national government in August 2017.[90]

According to legislation, persons with disabilities should comprise 3% of state employees. In 2015, the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee reported that many persons interviewed noted that numerous violations of the Law on the Rights and Privileges of Persons employment quota occurred due to bribery and nepotism that resulted in job opportunities being taken away from persons with disabilities.[91]

The constitution prohibits any kind of discrimination and requires the provision of assistance to persons with disabilities, which include healthcare and financial protection.[92] In 2017, it was reported that “in practice, the situation is quite different and many persons with disabilities are deprived of basic rights.”[93]

Except the monthly pension, no other resources were allocated for victims or survivors directly.[94] Pensions are reported to be “totally insufficient” and not all persons with disabilities were eligible to receive them.[95] Discrimination in the allocation and payment of pensions by which only war victims were entitled to benefits persisted.[96]

Although Afghan disability legislation mandates that ministries, government offices, transportation facilities, and all new public construction should include facilities for the persons with disabilities in their design, it was reported that it rarely occurs.[97] In 2016, MoLSAMD, with support of the World Bank, started renovation of the ministries premises in order to improve accessibility for persons with disabilities in line with accessibility guidelines and standards. The renovation was completed in the first quarter of 2017.[98]

It was reported that although Afghanistan had joined the relevant treaties and conventions, the provisions were not implemented.[99]

In 2015–2016, DAO trained some 500 medical practitioners in the application of the CRPD and its obligations to provide adequate medical care to persons with disabilities.[100] One hundred NGO employees in five provinces[101] were also trained in CRPD and disability rights awareness.[102]

In 2016, Afghan DPOs submitted a detailed parallel (alterative, or “shadow”) CRPD report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.[103]



[1] Handicap International (HI), “Understanding the challenge ahead: National disability survey in Afghanistan 2005,” Kabul, 2006.

[2] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[3] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[4] For example, HI reported that there are 15 district health clinics in Kandahar province, but none of them provide rehabilitation services. Response to Monitor questionnaire by Juliette Coatrieux, HI, 26 April 2015; and SCA, “SCA Initiates National Physical Rehabilitation Workshop,” 29 December 2014. See also SCA, “Commitment for Change: Strategic plan 2014–2017,” undated.

[5] Statement of Afghanistan, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 24 June 2014.

[6] Response to Monitor questionnaire by MACCA (consolidated questionnaire including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), April 2015.

[7] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Islam Mohammadi, Executive Director, ALSO, 30 July 2017.

[8] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J.

[9] Statement of Afghanistan, Mine Ban Treaty Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties, Santiago, 29 November 2016.

[10] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form H.

[11] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[12] “Financial Access to Rehabilitation Services in Afghanistan in 2016,” cited in response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[13] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[14] UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – July 2016 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” August 2016.

[15] UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – April 2017 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” May 2017; and UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – March 2017 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” April 2017.

[18] In Daman, Dand, and Arghandab districts.

[19] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[20] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2015), Form J; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2015), Form H.

[21] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J; and response to Monitor questionnaire by MACCA (consolidated questionnaire, including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), April 2015.

[22] Email from MACCA (consolidated questionnaire, including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), 7 April 2016.

[23] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J.

[24] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form H.

[25] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Email from MACCA (consolidated questionnaire, including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), 7 April 2016; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J.

[28] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form H.

[29] Email from MACCA (consolidated questionnaire, including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), 7 April 2016.

[30] Ibid.; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form H.

[31] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Juliette Coatrieux, HI, 26 April 2015.

[32] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[34] USAID, “Afghan Civilian Assistance Program II (ACAP II),” Fact sheet, 11 August 2014.

[35] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J; and email from MACCA (consolidated questionnaire, including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), 7 April 2016.

[36] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[37] Ibid.

[39] UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – October 2016 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” November 2016.

[40] The conference was held in partnership with the US International Council on Disabilities, the US-Afghan Women’s Council, Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development, Counterpart International, and Trivision. Embassy of Afghanistan, “Final Report Afghan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming May 23 and 24, 2017 Washington, DC,” undated, but 2017.

[41] Statements of Afghanistan, Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference, Maputo, 24 June 2014; Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, 9 April 2014; Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 4 September 2014; and Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 3 December 2013.

[42] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form J; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form H.

[43] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[44] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Islam Mohammadi, ALSO, 30 July 2017.

[45] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Mohammad Shafaq, CCD, 1 August 2017.

[46] Responses to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 14 April 2016, and 14 April 2015; and by Omara Khann Muneeb, Director, DAO, 5 April 2016.

[47] ICRC, “The ICRC's physical rehabilitation work in Afghanistan,” Fact sheet, June 2016.

[49] The conference was held in partnership with the US International Council on Disabilities, the US-Afghan Women’s Council, Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development, Counterpart International, and Trivision. Embassy of Afghanistan, “Final Report Afghan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming May 23 and 24, 2017 Washington, DC,” undated, but 2017.

[50] ICRC, “Annual Report 2015,” Geneva, 2016, p. 336. The hospitals treated 1,827 weapon-wounded patients in 2014 (a similar number of beneficiaries compared to 2,023 in 2013); 42% (861) were injured by mines/ERW (compared to 47%, 950 in 2014). ICRC, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, 2015, p. 282; and ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 282.

[51] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 317.

[52] ICRC, “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, 2015, p. 279; and ICRC, “Annual Report 2013,” Geneva, 2014, p. 281.

[53] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[54] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[55] Ibid.

[56] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Bismillah Safi, Admin/Finance Manager, DAO, 30 July 2017.

[57] Daichopan, Zabul and Kijran, Daikondi are closer to Uruzgan. Response to Monitor questionnaire by Omara Khann Muneeb, DAO, 5 April 2016.

[58] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[59] AAPT, “PT Services in Afghanistan,” undated.

[60] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 319.

[61] ICRC, “Annual Report 2015,” Geneva, 2016, p. 336.

[62] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[63] HI, “Federal Information – Country Card Afghanistan,” August 2016; and response to Monitor questionnaire by Taimur Ahmed, HI, 7 June 2016.

[64] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[65] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[66] These were Kunduz (regional center), Farah, Bamyan, Paktia, Badghis, Baghlan, and Zabul. Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[67] ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP), “Annual Report 2014,” Geneva, 2015; and response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[68] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[70] More than 40 people gained employment.

[71] Some 390 people attended vocational training.

[72] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 316.

[73] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Mohammad Shafaq, CCD, 1 August 2017.

[74] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[75] UNMAS, “Portfolio of Mine Action Projects: ACAP III,” undated; and UNMAS and USAID, “ACAP III Monthly Status Updates,” for 2016 and 2017.

[76] Email from ACAP III Data Monitoring Associate, to DMAC, 7 August 2017, cited in response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[77] ICRC, “Annual Report 2016,” Geneva, 2017, p. 319; and response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 14 April 2016.

[78] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[79] SCA provided training to 1,400 teachers, SERVE for 100 teachers, and AAR Japan trained 30 child protection officers in two school of Parwan province that resulted in the enrollment of 56 children with hearing, visual, and mental impairments. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form H; and response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[80] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[81] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Islam Mohammadi, ALSO, 30 July 2017.

[82] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Juliette Coatrieux, HI, 26 April 2015; and by Mohammad Naseem, ABRAAR, 22 April 2015.

[84] UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – July 2016 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” August 2016.

[85] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[86] Responses to Monitor questionnaire by Ali Mohabati, Coordinator for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, AIHRC, 9 April 2016.

[87] Articles 4,8, 19, and 24 of the law were amended.

[88] Email from MACCA (consolidated questionnaire, including information from MoE, MoLSAMD, and MoPH), 7 April 2016.

[89] Statement of Afghanistan, Mine Ban Treaty Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties, Santiago, 29 November 2016.

[90] Response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[91] Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee Vulnerability to Corruption, “Assessment of the Payment System for Martyrs and Persons Disabled by Conflict,” 3 June 2015, p. 5.

[92] US Department of State, “2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Afghanistan,” Washington, DC, 13 April 2017.

[93] The conference was held in partnership with the US International Council on Disabilities, the US-Afghan Women’s Council, Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development, Counterpart International, and Trivision. Embassy of Afghanistan, “Final Report Afghan Disability Rights Conference: From Policy to Programming May 23 and 24, 2017 Washington, DC,” undated, but 2017.

[94] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Islam Mohammadi, ALSO, 30 July 2017.

[95] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 29 July 2017.

[96] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Bismillah Safi, DAO, 30 July 2017.

[97] Farid Tanha, “Afghanistan: Fighting for Disability RightsDisabled people say they face social prejudice and government inaction,” The Institute for War & Peace Reporting, 6 April 2017.

[98] Statement of Afghanistan, Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties, Santiago, 29 November 2016; and response to Monitor questionnaire by UNMAS/DMAC, 8 August 2017.

[99] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Alberto Cairo, ICRC, 14 April 2016.

[100] The CRPD trainings were conducted in Laghman, Ghazni, Hirat, Kandahar, Takhar, Badakhsahn, Bamyan, Paktia, and Logar.

[101] The provinces were Ningarhar, Kabul, Hirat, Balkh, and Zabul.

[102] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Omara Khann Muneeb, DAO, 5 April 2016.